By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 21, 2008
The United States Navy launched a missile that destroyed a dangerous satellite last night, high over the Pacific Ocean.
One missile; one hit.
Pentagon sources told Peace and Freedom that China requested all data on the event “almost immediately; within a few hours.”
The satellite, USA 193, was passing over the Pacific Ocean at about 17,000 miles per hour and at an altitude of about 130 miles. It was hit by an SM-3 Missile launched by sailors aboard USS Lake Erie.
A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is launched from a guided-missile cruiser in an image courtesy of the U.S. Navy. A missile from a U.S. Navy warship hit a defunct U.S. spy satellite 133 nautical miles (247 km) above the Earth in an attempt to blow apart its tank of toxic fuel, the Pentagon said on Wednesday. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout
From missile launch to satellite destruction the mission time elapsed was only about three minutes.
The Navy announced that various sensors detected a “large explosion.” Sensor analysts believe the fuel tank of the satellite had been hit as intended because they witnessed that “large explosion” but the Navy said computer analysis to confirm those first impressions would take about 24 hours.
The satellite’s fuel tank contained about 1,000 pounds of toxic hydrazine rocket fuel.
The Bush Administration said the mission was solely to destroy that dangerous hydrazine fuel. President Bush made the decision to schedule the mission. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the launch decision based upon information provided to him by military advisors last night.
The mission was carried out, a spokesman said, because of the danger posed if some of that hydrazine survived reentry and landed on earth. The hydrazine could have harmed humans and animals on earth.
“Nearly all of the debris will burn up on re-entry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days,” a military spokesman said.
Military analyst John Pike said the satellite, immediately after the missile hit, would be mostly “gravel.”
“A network of land, air, sea and space-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a nonfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite, which was in its final orbits before entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” a Pentagon statement said.
Those same sensors will be used to monitor debris as it enters the earth’s atmosphere.
The SM-3 missile alone cost nearly $10 million, and officials estimated that the total cost of the project was at least $30 million. The satellite cost about one billion dollars but it failed in 2006 just after it was launched into space.
“But if you kill something dangerous heading for people on earth; what is the right amount to spend?” a military officer asked rhetorically.
From the Washington Post:
Navy Missile Hits Satellite
From Associated Press Military Writer Robert Burns:
Navy Missile Destroys Dying Satellite
Peace and Freedom Note: People that know me have seen me follow Navy missile evolution for about 30 years. In 1991, when Saddam Hussein launched SCUD ballistic missiles, we detected and tracked those from U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. Subsequently, we were involved in the initial concept development for Navy ballistic missile defense. Last night’s missile destruction of a dangerous satellite was one more step in the development of missile defense, first envisioned by President Ronald Reagan.
On March 23, 1983, President Reagan announced from the Oval Office, “I’ve reached a decision which offers a new hope for our children in the 21st century.” He explained his vision — and his defense budget’s inclusion — of the first funds to go toward this nation’s missile defense effort.
Liberals, and most of the media, derided the president’s project as “star wars.” Since 1983, America’s Missile Defense effort has become a multinational, multi-system effort: it has reached into space and it has come down to earth and the sea.