Military Says Spy Satellite Was Destroyed By Missile - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Hardware & Infrastructure
03:57 PM

Military Says Spy Satellite Was Destroyed By Missile

Military officials are tracking fewer than 3,000 pieces of debris and all are smaller than a football.

The U.S. Department of Defense said its officials believe a missile hit a stray spy satellite and destroyed its hydrazine tank last week.

The Defense Department said that analysis of the debris shows that the satellite's tank was destroyed by a missile last week, reducing or eliminating the risk that hydrazine would pose a threat to humans. Defense decided to shoot down the satellite, which failed to function soon after its launch in December 2006. Experts believed the satellite would fall to Earth by early March if no action was taken.

Since the satellite's communications system failed, no one could control exactly where or when it would land. Though military leaders had first indicated that falling debris posed little threat to humans, they later determined that a 1,000 pound tank of hydrazine fuel could pose a threat if the fuel landed in populated areas.

A modified tactical Standard Missile-3 fired from the USS Lake Erie hit the satellite and it appears the tank exploded.

Military officials said observers at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., are tracking less than 3,000 pieces of debris, and that all pieces are smaller than a football.

"The vast majority of debris has already re-entered or will shortly re-enter the Earth's atmosphere in the coming days and weeks," the Pentagon said in a statement. "To date, there have been no reports of debris landing on Earth and it is unlikely any will remain intact to impact the ground."

U.S. Strategic Command continues to monitor the debris and will issue notifications if it creates any ground or orbital risk.

"By all accounts this was a successful mission. From the debris analysis, we have a high degree of confidence the satellite's fuel tank was destroyed and the hydrazine has been dissipated," Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a statement released Monday. "The successful satellite engagement was truly a collaborative effort from across the U.S. government, the armed forces, industry, and academia working together to reduce the risk to human life."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
10 Trends Accelerating Edge Computing
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/8/2020
Is Cloud Migration a Path to Carbon Footprint Reduction?
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  10/5/2020
IT Spending, Priorities, Projects: What's Ahead in 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/2/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
[Special Report] Edge Computing: An IT Platform for the New Enterprise
Edge computing is poised to make a major splash within the next generation of corporate IT architectures. Here's what you need to know!
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll