Friday, February 22, 2008

Direct Hit Reported On U.S. Spy Satellite

A Navy missile successfully hit a broken U.S. spy satellite about 150 miles above Earth late Wednesday the Pentagon said yesterday. The government had been worried that the satellite's fuel tank could have harmed people had it fallen to Earth.

"We're very confident that we hit the satellite. We also have a high degree of confidence that we got the tank," said Marine General James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He said that a fireball seen in video images of the strike, a vapor cloud that formed, and signs of the satellite's fuel in the air all suggest that the missile (see artist's drawing at left) shattered the tank. But it could take another day or two to know for sure, he added.

Debris from the satellite has started to reenter the atmosphere over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Cartwright said, but nothing larger than a football has been detected so far.

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