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The reason America,Or even Earth is in danger:::
IN A scenario reminiscent of Hollywood science fiction, the Pentagon
said it would try to shoot down a dying, bus-size US spy satellite
–loaded with toxic fuel – on a collision course with Earth.
The military hopes to smash the satellite as early as next week, just
before it enters Earth’s atmosphere, with a single missile fired
from a Navy cruiser in the northern Pacific Ocean.
The dramatic manoeuvre may well trigger international concerns, and US
officials have begun notifying other countries of the plan. They are
stressing that it does not signal the start of a new American
anti-satellite weapons programme.
Military and administration officials said the satellite was carrying
fuel called hydrazine that could injure or even kill people who are
near it when it hits the ground.
That reason alone, they said, persuaded President George W Bush to
order the shoot-down.
“That is the only thing that breaks it out, that is worthy of
taking extraordinary measures,” said General James Cartwright,
vice-chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a Pentagon
He predicted a chance as high as 80% that the satellite will be hit by
a shot fired when it is about 240 kilometres above the ground. The
window of opportunity for taking the satellite down, Cartwright said,
opens in three or four days and lasts for about seven or eight days.
“We’ll take one shot and assess,” he said. “This is the first
time we’ve used a tactical missile to engage a spacecraft.”
Deputy National Security Advisor James Jeffrey discounted comparisons
to an anti-satellite test conducted by the Chinese last year that
triggered criticism from the United States and other countries.
“This is all about trying to reduce the danger to human beings,”
“Specifically, there was enough of a risk for the president to be
quite concerned about human life.”
Similar spacecraft re-enter the atmosphere regularly and break up into
pieces, said Ivan Oelrich, vice president for strategic security
programmes at the Federation of American Scientists. He said, “One
could be forgiven for asking if this is just an excuse to test an
A key issue when China shot down its defunct weather satellite was
that it created an enormous amount of space debris.
“All of the debris from this encounter, as carefully designed as it
is, will be down at most within weeks, and most of it will be down
within the first couple of orbits afterwards,” said Jeffrey.
“There’s an enormous difference to spacefaring nations in ...
those two things.”
He and others dismissed suggestions that this was simply an attempt by
the United States to flex its muscles, and that officials were
overstating the toxic fuel threat.
The announcement last week that Moscow and Beijing were proposing a
new treaty banning the use of weapons in space was immediately
rejected by the White House. — Sapa-AFP
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