THIS WILL BE THE COOLEST EVER! From AFP:
The Navy will shoot down a malfunctioning U.S. spy satellite
sometime after Feb. 20, government officials said during a Pentagon news
Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, assistant to the President
and deputy national security advisor, said President Bush decided to bring down
the satellite because of the likelihood that the satellite could release
hydrazine, a toxic chemical used as a maneuvering fuel...The Navy has modified
three SM-3 missiles aboard Aegis ships to strike the satellite... The Navy wants
to intercept the satellite at a point just above the atmosphere so there would
be a high likelihood of bringing it down in an unpopulated area. An intercept
also would rupture the hydrazine tank. The vice chairman would not say exactly
where the ships would fire from, only saying it will be from the northern
hemisphere and the Pacific Ocean.
Intercepting the satellite at about
130 nautical miles altitude will reduce the risk of debris in space. Once the
satellite is hit, officials hope 50 percent of the debris will come to Earth in
the first two orbits and the rest shortly thereafter...
We often give the USN hard time for its obsession over hi-tech, but there's no denying the power of precision weapons, and the fleet has been way ahead of the Air Force's own Ballistic Missile Defense program. Over at my Ultimate Warships group, we've been keeping track of the BMD at sea tests for years, and here are a few headlines:
Navy could upgrade all Aegis ships with BMD.
Navy Ships Key to Missile Test Success.
Dual Targets Destroyed in BMD Test.
Aegis Cruiser Makes Naval History.
More info via Strategypage:
So far, the Aegis system has knocked down 85 percent of the
missiles fired towards it. To do this, the navy modified its Standard
anti-aircraft missile system to knock down ballistic missiles. This system, the
RIM-161A, also known as the Standard Missile 3 [PHOTOS] (or SM-3), has a range of over 500
kilometers and max altitude of 160 kilometers [VIDEO]. But in this case, the satellite will be
hit at an altitude of 240 kilometers. This is a previously undisclosed
capability of the Aegis anti-missile system.
As I said, COOL!