Thursday, February 21, 2008


Via the WSJ:
A Navy missile soaring 130 miles above the Pacific Ocean smashed a dying U.S. spy satellite late Wednesday night and appears to have destroyed a tank carrying 1,000 pounds of potentially lethal rocket fuel, bringing a dramatic end to a weeks-long controversy over the military's unusual decision to shoot down one of its own satellites.

Pentagon officials said they were optimistic that the missile had struck the satellite, which had stopped working almost immediately after entering earth orbit in December 2006. But they said that U.S. officials needed time to assess whether the strike had also destroyed the satellite's supply of hydrazine, a toxic fuel that causes lung damage and can be lethal if inhaled in large enough quantities.

"A network of land-, air-, sea- and spaced-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the earth's atmosphere," the Pentagon said in a written statement. "Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours."

The technology involved in this shootdown is really quite amazing. The “warhead” on this missile was a “kinetic interceptor” – a fancy term that just means that a small, heavy object rammed into the target at a very high relative speed. All the energy needed to destroy the target came from the impact of the kinetic interceptor – no explosives or shrapnel was invovled. To pull this off, the intercepting missile had to steer its warhead with astonishing accuracy directly into the refrigerator-sized target at a closing speed of many thousands of feet per second.

The Russians have accused the U.S. of using this event as a way to conduct a veiled test of the missile system. It would be absurd to think that we wasted a satellite worth hundreds of millions of dollars simply to provide a test target. But if the Russians are accusing us of taking advantage of an opportunity that presented itself, well, they're probably right. But so what? Do they expect us to believe that they would refrain from taking advantage of a similar opportunity? Hah!

The only thing going on here is that Putin's beligerent Russia is taking advantage of a propaganda opportunity, with the willing assistance of the despicable Western lamestream media...

1 comment:

  1. The former USSR (and now Russia) have always feared our space program. For example, they refer to our Space Shuttle as a "military weapon".

    I wonder how many of your readers know that the Space Shuttle program comes to an end in 2010. The US will then have zero manned space flights for ~five years as we prepare for the next leg of our journey into the final frontier, which includes a return to the moon.