US shoots down rogue satellite over Pacific

February 21st, 2008 - 11:57 am ICT by admin  

Washington, Feb 21 (DPA) The US Navy has successfully hit a falling spy satellite with a missile fired by a warship in the Pacific Ocean, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed. The US targeted the satellite because it carries a toxic fuel that could be harmful if the spacecraft drifted back into Earth’s atmosphere and the fuel tank fell into a populated area.

The USS Lake Erie near Hawaii fired an unarmed missile at 10:26 p.m. Wednesday that collided at a speed of 27,000 km per hour with the satellite 247 km above the Pacific.

The successful hit will likely be viewed as a major success for the sea-based missile defence system, which was built to counter medium-range threats and in testing has been among the Pentagon’s most reliable missile defence programmes.

The Pentagon said it should be able to confirm within 24 hours whether the interceptor missile ruptured the fuel tank, holding 453 kg of hydrazine. Officials expect most of the debris to burn up while re-entering the atmosphere.

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