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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 5:53 a.m., Monday, February 25, 2008

Military data shows missile scored direct hit on satellite

Advertiser Staff

The Department of Defense said today that based on debris analysis, officials are confident the missile intercept and destruction of a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite, achieved the objective of destroying the hydrazine tank and reducing, if not eliminating, the risk to people on Earth from the hazardous chemical.

"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 released statement. "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."

A single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), fired from the Pearl Harbor-based USS Lake Erie was used to engage the satellite.

The remaining two modified missiles will be configured back to their original status as tactical missiles and the operational computer software programs aboard the Aegis ships will be re-installed.

The Joint Functional Component Command for Space Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., is tracking less than 3,000 pieces of debris, all smaller than a football.

The vast majority of debris has already reentered or will shortly reenter the Earth's atmosphere in the coming days and weeks.

To date, there have been no reports of debris landing on Earth and it is unlikely any will remain intact to impact the ground, the DOD news release said.