2008-02-17 - US Navy satellite shootdownUS Navy to shoot down malfunctioning satellite

Defekter US-Satellit soll abgeschossen werden<br /> The Navy will shoot down a malfunctioning U.S. spy satellite sometime after Feb. 20, government officials said during a Pentagon news conference Feb. 14. Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor, said President George W. 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 likelihood of the satellite falling in a populated area is small, and the extent and duration of toxic hydrazine in the atmosphere would be limited," Jeffrey said. "Nevertheless, if the satellite did fall in a populated area, there was the possibility of death or injury to human beings beyond that associated with the fall of satellites and other space debris."
The window for shooting down the satellite opens in the next three or four days and remains open for as many as seven or eight days, said Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Navy has modified three SM-3 missiles aboard Aegis ships to strike the satellite, Cartwright said. 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, Cartwright said.

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