WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A missile from a U.S. Navy warship hit a defunct U.S. spy satellite 133 nautical miles (247 km) above the Earth in an attempt to blow apart its tank of toxic fuel, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
It was too soon to tell if the fuel tank had been shattered in the operation over the Pacific Ocean, the Pentagon said in a statement, but a senior military source said initial indications suggested that goal had been achieved.
Washington says its aim is to prevent harm to humans from the satellite’s tank of hazardous hydrazine fuel. Russia and China have expressed concern, with Moscow suggesting the operation could be used as cover to test a new space weapon.
The SM-3 missile was fired from the USS Lake Erie in the Pacific at about 10:26 p.m. EST (3:26 a.m. British time Thursday), the Pentagon said in a statement.
"A network of land, air, sea and space-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," it said