Friday, February 15, 2008

Targeting a satellite

The errant spysat U.S. 193 is going to be targeted by Navy SM-3 missiles designed for antimissile work in an effort to break it into thousands of small pieces (all of which should quickly reenter) and vaporize a tank of frozen hydrazine on board. This will mark the first time since 1978 the US has fired a missile at a satellite. That event was a test of an airlaunched ASAT missile which was never deployed: this is an attempt to remove the danger from an unintended reentry. The U.S. emphasizes this is a jury-rigged effort and does not mark the deployment of a new ASAT capability. "It should be understood by all, at home and abroad, that this is an exceptional circumstance and should not be perceived as the standard U.S. policy for dealing with errant satellites," is how House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton put it.

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