The United States military has been hitting moving missiles with moving missiles for nearly twenty years now. For the last five years they have had the ability to hit something that is moving at a high rate of speed in outer space with missiles. Raytheon Missile Systems makes the missile, the Standard Missile 3 (SM3) that shot down the spy satellite on February 20th, 2008. This technology has been compared to hitting a moving bullet with a moving bullet, which while difficult, is not impossible, considering the ever expanding technology.
The spy satellite, USA 193, launched in 2006, had never functioned correctly and it had been noted that from the very beginning it never reached the altitude in the atmosphere it needed to be at, nor did it respond to efforts to correct its orbit. That left a 5,000 pound hunk of junk traveling at 17,000 mph, with a tank holding 1,000 frozen pounds of hydrazine, wobbling out of orbit and headed for earth. Where is Superman when you need him? Luckily we don’t depend on a superhero and even better, the military had something that could stop the potentially lethal poison aboard the satellite from being atomized and spread into Earth’s fragile atmosphere. Hydrazine is nasty stuff, especially when inhaled. Essentially it burns your lungs up, making it impossible to breathe. It is not something most of us would want even a remote chance of coming in contact with.
The United States military had a few other missiles to choose from to take care of destroying the spy satellite. There is the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI); both part of the space defense program initiated by President Regan. The EKV and the KEI are designed to intercept nuclear warheads while in mid-air, even if they are in outer space. The SM3 was chosen to shoot down the satellite because, although all the missiles have become increasingly accurate, a 90% rate of accuracy, the SM3 cost significantly less and it is a kinetic weapon; it destroys things by just hitting them at a high velocity. The SM3 missile used on the satellite did cost more than the average SM3 due to the fact that extensive changes needed to be made in the missile’s software and the launch equipment onboard the U.S.S. Lake Erie, where it was launched from. It took thirty days of around the clock work to make the needed changes.
Many eyes were turned toward the sky, not only was the satellite being shot down but in some parts of the world a lunar eclipse was underway. This meant that any observatory within the range of viewing had their instruments pointed toward both celestial events if they were able. You can also be sure that those countries with space tracking stations, such as Germany, Japan, The Soviet Union, China, and The European Space Agency, were paying close attention to what the U.S. Navy was doing just west of Hawaii with their missile and where it was pointed. The media made it very clear what was going on and that the missile did not even have a warhead on it, but some nations have trust issues.
It is ludicrous to even suggest that the US Navy did not hit the satellite or that the satellite was anything but what it was; a costly piece of military equipment that never worked right. If the military could have gotten away with claiming it was something else they might have tried, but too many other nations already knew it was a spy satellite that flopped. So why would the military try to lie about hitting it when they knew a lot of people were watching them? They wouldn’t and couldn’t. They were already embarrassed enough to have to fess up to having launched the unsatisfactory satellite in the first place.
Even though it is being called a spy satellite, it never was much of secret that the USA 193 was up there from the day it was launched. The world is just not as big as it use to be. Everyone who is anyone has satellites, and at least a few of those satellites keep track of what is up there orbiting around earth. The satellite USA 193 was hit and there were plenty of witnesses to attest to the fact that it was hit and that it was, as stated, a non-functioning, out of control, spy satellite. This was confirmed by The Joint Space Operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. I am sure other countries tracking the missile will give you the same answer, but if you don’t trust the US military on this matter, nothing will give you peace of mind on this issue. The US military may spend too a lot of our tax dollars, but I do believe they would go to great lengths to protect all United States citizens from harm, even if it meant exposing a military failure, then shooting down their mistake, on the offhand chance it might hurt anyone, even someone who was not a US citizen.