Thursday, February 14, 2008


Got a problem with wayward spy satellites leaking hydrazine, revealing their own secrets, and leaving large parts of themselves all over the globe? The solution is simple: shoot down the suckers with the new improved Navy SM-3 missile, on board every Aegis cruiser involved in theatre missile defense! In advance of a Valentine's Day press conference at the Pentagon, the Associated Press reported that that the DoD already had decided to shoot down USA 193, an experimental satellite of the National Reconnaissance Office, before it falls to Earth in early March.

USA 193 was an experimental spy satellite, reportedly built by Lockheed-Martin and launched on a Delta-II rocket from Vandenberg AFB in December 2006. The New York Times cited specific problems with an imaging device on the satellite, but Jonathan's Space Report said that the satellite was meant to test several types of imagers, including radar, and that the satellite itself failed.

John Pike at assumes the most important reason to shoot the satellite down is the toxic hydrazine used as a propellant. Security specialists wonder, since the satellite was intended for experimental sensors, if the intelligence agencies want the satellite destroyed before curious eyes can examine what's left of the payload. And critics of missile defense wonder if the whole show is just a way to promote the handy-dandy Aegis cruiser and its resident missile.

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