A network of land-, air-, sea- and spaced-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the earth’s atmosphere.
At approximately 10:26 P.M. EST today, a U.S. Navy AEGIS warship, the USS Lake Erie (CG-70), fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) hitting the satellite approximately 133 nautical miles (247 kilometers) over the Pacific Ocean as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph. USS Decatur (DDG-73) and USS Russell (DDG-59) were also part of the task force.
The objective was to rupture the fuel tank to dissipate the approximately 1,000 pounds (453 kg) of hydrazine, a hazardous fuel which could pose a danger to people on earth, before it entered into earth’s atmosphere. Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours.
Due to the relatively low altitude of the satellite at the time of the engagement, debris will begin to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere immediately. Nearly all of the debris will burn up on reentry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days.