I'm posting this here because of the implications for the future,sparked off first by the Chinese,who are now playing a two-faced game.Killing nemy sats during/before a crisis could very well give either side a crippling advantage over the other.We should not be found wanting in the future.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... ite321.xml
Rogue satellite shot down over the Pacific
By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles and Richard Spencer in Beijing
Last Updated: 12:28pm GMT 21/02/2008
A missile launched from a US Navy warship has struck a defunct and potentially deadly spy satellite orbiting more than 130 miles above the Earth, the Pentagon has said.
Watch: Pentagon confirms direct hit on satellite
Officials said it was too soon to tell if the satellite's tank of toxic fuel had been successfully shattered in the operation as planned but a senior military source said early indications suggested that goal had been achieved.
The SM-3 missile was fired from the USS Lake Erie in the Pacific Ocean at about 10:26 pm Eastern Standard Time (3.26am UK time), the Pentagon said in a statement. The specially-adapted missile's "kill vehicle" hit the dead satellite, which was about the size of a bus, about three minutes after launch.
"A network of land, air, sea and space-based sensors confirms that the US military intercepted a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the earth's atmosphere," the Pentagon said. "Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours."
"There's a good indication that the fuel tank was hit because there was an explosion," the military source told Reuters.
The announcement brought an immediate response from Beijing, where some suspect the action was intended as a warning respone to China's test shooting-down of an ageing weather satellite with a long-range missile in January 2007.
A foreign ministry spokesman demanded that the United States supply full data on the explosion, saying it was monitoring "possible harm to outer space security".
Washington said the operation was carried out to prevent the satellite's 1,000 pounds of hazardous hydrazine fuel from causing any damage on re-entry. The Bush administration deemed it a potential health hazard to humans if it landed intact.
advertisementAlthough the satellite was circling the Earth every 90 minutes analysts pinpointed a single point each day as the safest spot to launch the strike so any debris would fall over water or on to less-populated areas of land.
The Pentagon said that "due to the relatively low altitude of the satellite at the time of the engagement, debris will begin to re-enter the earth's atmosphere immediately. Nearly all of the debris will burn up on reentry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days."
The launch of the Navy missile marked the first such use of the Pentagon's missile defense system, which was designed to shoot down hostile ballistic missiles, not rogue satellites.
The operation was so unprecedented, politically charged and high profile, that US Defence Secretary Robert Gates personally took the decision to pull the trigger. He authorised the Navy to fire the missile during a flight from Washington to Hawaii.
The Pentagon described the stray spacecraft as a test satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, a US intelligence agency, that was launched in December 2006 and ceased communicating almost immediately on reaching orbit.
Some experts have questioned the Pentagon's justification for the mission, saying the chances of any part of the satellite causing harm were extremely remote.
But government officials have denied suggestions they wanted to destroy the satellite to prevent part of the classified spacecraft from falling into the hands of rival powers.
Russia and China have meanwhile expressed concern about the operation, with Moscow suggesting it could be used as cover to test a new space weapon.
China foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said: "China is continuing to closely follow the possible harm caused by the US action to outer space security and relevant countries.
A cruiser launches an SM-3. The technology was adapted to bring down satellites
"China further requests that the US fulfil its international obligations in earnest and promptly provide to the international community the necessary information and relevant data... so that relevant countries can take precautions."
People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, suggested in yesterday's edition, published before the missile was shot down, that the United States was being hypocritical, and asking why it had not accepted Chinese and Russian proposals for a ban on weapons in space.
Washington and other western powers criticised China's test, which it only admitted after it had already been revealed by the Pentagon.
"The United States, the world's top space power, has often accused other countries of vigorously developing military space technology, but faced with the Chinese-Russian proposal to restrict space armaments, it runs in fear from what it claimed to love," it said.
US officials reject the connection along with suggestions that the Pentagon was proving it had similar abilities to shoot down a satellite.
"This is about reducing the risk to human life on Earth, nothing more," Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, told the New York Times.
Admiral Timothy Keating, head of US Pacific Command, said there were similarities with the Chinese test but that Washington had given advance notice. "They just shot, they didn't tell anybody about it," he said.
Left alone, the satellite would have been expected to hit Earth during the first week of March. About half of the 5,000-pound (2,300-kilogram) spacecraft would have been expected to survive its blazing descent through the atmosphere and would have scattered debris over several hundred miles.
America 'to shoot down disabled spy satellite'
19 January 2007: Chinese missile destroys satellite in space
27 January 2008: Satellite 'the size of a bus' could crash to Earth
20 February 2008: Out-of-control satellite shooting faces delay