back to article US cruiser nails crippled spy-sat on first shot

Pentagon officials say that a malfunctioning US spy satellite targeted for destruction has been hit by a missile-defence interceptor. The dead spacecraft smashed into a kinetic kill vehicle, lobbed into the satellite's path 250km above the Pacific by a Standard missile from US cruiser Lake Erie. According to a Pentagon release …

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  1. Ian Rogers
    Coat

    User Friendly

    I think the "User Friendly" cartoon over the last 3 days has the definitive explanation - from: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20080219&mode=classic

    No coat, just the anti-sat hard hat...

  2. Matt

    CO2

    Well whatever the reason, they've spent more CO2 on this than Red, oops, Green Ken can hope to save even if he were to ban all cars from London.

  3. Geoff Mackenzie
    Joke

    You fools!

    That was the Hubble Telescope!

  4. Gingerbeard Man
    Black Helicopters

    it was a meteor - honest guv...

    bbc news has this story on the front page, but there's also a video story about a "meteor" observed over the US North West and caught on TV cameras...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I believe the Pentagon

    They just happened to have this modified missile handy, on a cruiser in a suitable position in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the trajectory software was knocked up in a week when this super secret satellite "GallileoTargetPractice#1" failed to respond.

    They then launched the missile trusting the new software wouldn't send it crashing into any populated area.

    All to protect the earth from a satellite that could come crashing to the ground, damaging someones roof. Like a mini skylab.

    Yeh, I'm totally sold on it.

  6. gautam

    Wheres the proof?

    After all hoopla and hype, its inconcievable that Russians and Chinese would have let this opportunity go without filming, tracking, monitoring this shootdown. If they can film the shuttle 400 miles above all the way down, why not this one?

    Any chance that it may have missed and the hype survived? Cmon YOUTUBE, where's the clip?? Any amateurs out there have a clip or two?

    Should be fun watching it all!

  7. Daniel Silver badge
    Coat

    New theory

    The 'sat' was definitely extraterrestrial in origin.

    I reckon ET was on his way home, but forgot his sandwiches and phoned the SecDef to ask if he could send them up to him. "Kinetic Kill Vehicle" my arse, it was a Buzz Lightyear lunchbox with two rounds of ham n cheese and a chocolate milk.

    ET's now gone on his way with a full tummy and will hopefully say nice things about us to his galactic overlord.

    Mine's the one with the bicycle/moon picture on the back, ta

  8. Peter Hawkins
    Coat

    Software part was easy

    They didn't have to do much, the software has been around for years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missile_Command

  9. The Douros
    Paris Hilton

    I am waiting impatiently...

    ... to hear what the Flat Earth Society people have to say about this (and how it fits with their conspiracy delusions^H^H^H^H^H^H^H theories).

    Paris, because someone's go to do it...

  10. Dave
    Coat

    a grudging 'well done' to the Yanquees

    would love to know if the hittile smacked dead centre on the Union Flag!

    mine's the Abercrombie cashmere, thanks

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I was on my way to work this morning...

    when this frickin' brick hit me on the head, 'ow!

    what the 'ell is this then? some SSD ram thingy?

    Oh my God... Misslegate.

    Do you know what? George Bush is not really ...

    Zomg... they're after me.... I'm uploading the contents now... If I don't make it publish it please...

  12. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    The cost of loyalty

    "The other effect of the interception is that the bits which did survive will mostly have come down along a track of the American government's choosing, mainly into the ocean or thinly-peopled nations closely allied to the US."

    Is that what you get for being closely allied to the US? A pile of junk falling on your head from the outer space?

  13. horrors of tesco
    Coat

    Stop your doubting!

    Of course the Americans hit the target, it was US made probably with US flags painted on it.

    As we've seen in the past the US military have no problem taking out US/Nato/UN troops, it's another matter when their target has an 'enemy' nation's insignia on it.

    Mine's the one made out of an Iranian flag.

  14. Adam Foxton
    Coat

    @Peter Hawkins

    You know what, I can actually imagine the US MilAtari using that sort of software... having a gunked-up rollerball based bomb-targetter explain their "fantastic" accuracy record.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Momentum?

    Maybe I'm being a bit dense here, but if the pieces of the broken satellite carried on the original trajectory, why would they lose orbit so quickly after being hit? Surely it couldn't have lost so much momentum for most of the pieces to lose orbit so quickly?

    On another note, I'm surprised they pulled this off considering they've manage to miss a target the size of Mars before.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shame

    ...I was hoping the Chinese or Russians would shoot it down before the Yanks, just for a laugh!

    This morning the BBC was toeing the party line, about how the USA did this out of the kindness of their hearts so that we didn't get bits of debris falling on our heads, Chicken Little style.

    And then they wonder why they're no longer taken seriously as a news source...

  17. FathomsDown
    Coat

    It was made in Britain....

    Think about it... it didn't work when deployed and was hit by the Yanks with unerring accuracy!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fireball?

    "He said that a "fireball" and a "vapour cloud" had been observed"

    Do you get fireballs in a near-vacuum?

  19. Tim
    Joke

    What they're really hiding...

    Is that the satellite is owned by Major League Baseball who are spying on the public.

  20. Gareth Morgan

    The real story

    It was a complete fake - the proof being that they turned off the Moon (Lunar eclipse - a likely story) - so that there wouldn't be enough light to see that nothing happened.

  21. Jouni Leppajarvi

    Nitpcik

    >... gaining domestic support for the troubled missile-defence programme - without

    >whose hardware and knowhow the sat-shoot would have been impossible.

    Didn't the Chinese do a similar thing with their (comparatively) low-tech gear ? (An adapted ICBM ?)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    re. The Cost of Loyalty

    Come now, the US has a well documented history of "friendly-fire"...

    Mine's the ACME guaranteed satellite-debris-proof overcoat.

  23. Sam

    Double take

    "The hydrazine story is just a diplomatic fiction, like the idea that Israel has no nuclear weapons"

    Ehwhat?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least we weren't dependent upon the Royal Navy

    http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30100-1302053,00.html

    Sorry old chap, can't do the satellite thingy, the damned fridge has had a bit of a prang.

  25. Tony Green

    But did they REALLY hit it?

    GIven the US military's record for accurately hitting the target they're aiming at, can we really take their word for it that they hit it?

    After all, this is the country that has trouble even hitting the right COUNTRY when they're dropping bombs (like the one that hit Sofia when they were trying to drop it on Belgrade.)

    Any third-party verification?

  26. David Harper

    Couldn't hit a barn door

    Given the U.S. military's dismal track record in hitting (or rather, missing by a hundred miles) fast-moving targets with its interceptor missiles, I am deeply skeptical about any claims that they hit the rogue spy satellite.

  27. Peter Leech Silver badge

    Re: Do you get fireballs in a near-vacuum

    > Do you get fireballs in a near-vacuum?

    Yes, you can do. Rocket fuel either uses two chemicals that explode on contact or contain enough oxygen to burn.

  28. Tom Chiverton

    one time

    'intercept mission was a "one time event'

    They've still for 2 'spare' converted missiles though...

  29. James

    RE: Momentum?

    "Maybe I'm being a bit dense here, but if the pieces of the broken satellite carried on the original trajectory, why would they lose orbit so quickly after being hit? Surely it couldn't have lost so much momentum for most of the pieces to lose orbit so quickly?"

    As far as I'm aware, the original satellite was losing speed / altitude due to atmospheric drag. The smaller sized remains of the satellite would have a higher surface-area:mass ratio, and would lose speed / altitude rather quicker.

  30. nagyeger

    @Momentum

    It's all to do with atmospheric drag. Assuming you manage to make everything roughly

    spherical, then the number of atoms you hit will goes up as r**2, whereas mass goes up

    with r**3, so drag (force) goes with m**(2/3), and deceleration goes as 1/m**(1/3). Unless I've made a mistake in that maths, then if the break it up into a thousand pieces, then

    they'll be decelerating 10 times faster at any given altitude. But, they're more likely to

    actually manage to turn the box-shaped spacecraft into lots of flat things (e.g circuit boards, solar cells, ribbon cables, lenses, "if found, please return to" stickers, etc) so they'll be doing even better than that (compare the drag on a sheet of paper compared

    to said paper in a ball).

    Presumably the SM-3 releases a cloud of ball-bearings, or something like that,

    to increase the hit-probability, rather than just being a well timed rock.. In which case it's more likely that there's going to be millions of pieces, not just thousands.

    I remember hearing that the space station (with it's heavy shielding) could (just) survive being hit by something 1cm across (I guess at 7km/s, that's an average orbital speed).

    I imagine a few hundred of those would turn the spy-sat into so much mangled mess even before reentry.

  31. Keith Williams
    Alien

    I believe the Pentagon

    "I believe the Pentagon

    By Anonymous Coward

    Posted Thursday 21st February 2008 10:37 GMT

    They just happened to have this modified missile handy, on a cruiser in a suitable position in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the trajectory software was knocked up in a week when this super secret satellite "GallileoTargetPractice#1" failed to respond"

    They've known this moment was coming since the satellite was launched and failed to respond in 2006. Lots of time to modify the missile and plan the shot(s). They just had to wait until it was beginning re-entry.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC- bbc towing the li(n)e

    "This morning the BBC was toeing the party line, about how the USA did this out of the kindness of their hearts so that we didn't get bits of debris falling on our heads, Chicken Little style.

    And then they wonder why they're no longer taken seriously as a news source..."

    yes sadly the BBC aren't allowed to report the conspiricy theories or the imaginations that run rife on the internet...

    the just retell what someone else has said before usually... sadly they gave up reporting the conspiricy therories after getting into that trouble that forced Greg Dyke to resign... (David Kelly stories)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feeling left out?

    How long before the Russians decide they need to show they're still one of the Big Boys then?

  34. Seán

    It's the Chinese

    The Chinese shot down a satellite so the pinheads, I mean Americans, had to close the "satellite gap". Why they couldn't just say what they were doing is down to the American way, of being dishonest at all times.

  35. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Video.

    Hi folks - I've just had to reject a comment with a link in it as it was insanely lengthy. If you've got a long link to post it's more likely to be posted if you tinyURL it first. Cheers!

  36. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Good day for Chinese missile scientists

    The Americans have shown their seaborne anti-missile missile works perfectly given enough space to play with. So any Chinese military scientists looking for a cool billion or ten to build a submarine-launched solid-fuelled MIRVed missile will be to buy that Porsche after all.

  37. Steve
    Black Helicopters

    Take that Great Leader!

    This shoot down was done to poke a hole in any further dreams North Korea might have about bullying it's neighbors with its alleged nuclear weapons and spotty missiles.

    It was also to buck up the US allies in northeast Asia (e.g., Japan) that they have no need to fear the North Koreans.

  38. Luther Blissett

    Procession of the symbolic orders

    When the official story bears no scrutiny whatever on a purely material level, one has to look at the symbolic angle. Especially as we find the BBC and Reg giving it such undue prominence.

    Now, the US Navy already established its preeminence among the military services of the USA for hosting future military technologies a while back, so this little exercise could not have furthered that purpose. We can also dismiss the notion of a symbolic me-too - after all, if you are the USA you don't exactly need to ape China (you just inflate the $ a bit more).

    This morning there was a total eclipse of the Moon. In fact 0326 was the moment of greatest eclipse, to within 1 minute. Coincidence? Hardly. When the Capi di Tutti want advice, in the absence of a convenient Alien Grey, they will ask an astrologer. And for an astrologer, there is no more significant moment than an eclipse. It does not matter a jot that astrology is mumbo-jumbo, as we are confident the USN's missiles are not powered or guided by voodoo. We decode the moment to understand its relevance - its meaning to the players.

    I am advised there was a configuration called "mystic rectangle", involving the robust significators, organised auspiciously, focussed on resilience, but without the implied malevolence of for example 911. (As well, as I don't want the black helicopters crawling all over my roof). Overall connotations are of a military in control, rather than a social governance out of control. So, the possibility exists that this was a very special type of psy-op - one for the initiated, where the message is hidden in plain view.

    A counter-psy-op, with the CIA as the target, seems plausible (if you've followed so far). But if the CIA exists as a physical entity, again we need to ask - who (or what) was the symbolic target?

    I could of course be completely barking, and the invasion started 23 hrs 40 mins ago...

  39. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    While we are at it

    The satelite was a fake one from the start, designed to fail to produce this opportunity to shoot it down.

  40. Dennis Price Silver badge
    Alien

    All of you are dead wrong

    And you should be thanking ole President Bush.....

    That was *not* a satellite - it was L. Ron coming back from Xenu.

    Take that CoS!

    In your FACE, Tom Cruise!

    <giggles hysterically>

  41. Ishkandar

    comments on various comments

    @Jouni Leppajarvi - Nope. They used a left over Chinese New Year firework with a Beta-test version of Windows Vista as the destructive element. They scored a direct hit and proved two theories at the same time !!

    1) The Chinese can do it cheaply !!

    2) Windows Vista can destroy anything on contact !!

    @Peter Leech - the chances of any rocket fuel, with oxygen in it, burning are slim to none. It's the ones WITHOUT oxygen that burns IN oxygen !!

    @Steve - by the time the Americans got their anti-missile ready, the N. Korean missile will have hit Tokyo already !! Those places are NOT a million miles apart, you know, as the Russian Imperial Baltic Fleet discovered in 1905 !! So that theory is shot down like that in the main story !!

  42. Chaz

    Missile Gaps

    Let me see.

    In about 1985 the Americans took out one of their own sats with a missile air launched from an F15 and maybe 300km up.

    In about 2007 the Chinese out one of their own sats with a ground launched system and maybe 600km up

    Now the Americans have 'proven' they can ground launch to 250km .

    As for teh Royal Navy , their computer would have shown the sat as "friendly" so the missile would not have launched . The American computers have no such 'scruples' :)

  43. John Cobb
    Paris Hilton

    @ Sean - Bite My Shiny Metal Ass

    So, we have to tell you in particular every reason we do everything?

    Not everything we do is dishonest. I suppose you also feel we deserved 9/11.

    Personally, I would have rather an F-15 shot it down with a missile that had to be significantly cheaper than $35-$40 million.

    PH - because she is the only one who is sorry that you weren't fully informed. Also because the single digit salute isn't available; the equivalent of nick off.

  44. John A Blackley

    I'd like to sell you a bridge

    So-o. We're talking about a satellite here, yes? Now how was that satellite funded? The US government won't say. What does the satellite carry? Similarly, schtum.

    But they will tell you some things. They'll tell you that the satellite's never worked. Interesting. We don't know what it's for but it's never worked. They'll tell you that they're shooting it down "due to the danger from the hydrazine fuel". What great humanitarians. The odds of the thing landing near humans are minsicule and even if it did, it would have to land on top of someone - or close by - for the hydrazine to do harm. And, lastly, they'll tell you - as AC already noted, that they just happened to have all of this kit and calculation ready when they decided to obliterate the thing.

    So, do I believe that they actually shot it down? About as much as I believe their preparation to do so was, "a one time event ... not a capability that will be coming into service."

  45. J
    Black Helicopters

    Yeah

    "one time event ... not a capability that will be coming into service."

    Which, in human language, reads as: "we'll shoot down anything we want, anytime we want, got a problem with that?".

  46. Mark

    Ah well, no news

    So, back to my satellite TV.

    Hang on, where's the picture gone???

  47. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    Lake Erie!

    Ah, in the USN mode of naming warships after battles. (Cf. Lexington, Saratoga, Coral Sea) We have zapped the satellite, but it was ours!

  48. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Alien

    MadHatter Project ....."Now, I am become Life, the Creator of Wwworlds"

    "Overall connotations are of a military in control, rather than a social governance out of control. So, the possibility exists that this was a very special type of psy-op - one for the initiated, where the message is hidden in plain view."

    Hmmmm. :-) A Virtual Production, Luther? Now that would be Real Sweet and a Quantum Leap ahead into ITs Fields.

    And Spookily enough, if you can Think IT, you can do IT.

  49. Guy Fawkes
    Flame

    @ AC

    "Do you get fireballs in a near-vacuum?"

    Yes, when you have both fuel and an oxidizer released in close proximity. Did you suppose the hyrdazine was onboard alone, as ballast perhaps? And there was most likely a self-destruct explosive charge on board, too (which couldn't be fired off because the satellite simply never responded to ground commands).

    And for those of you smarmy bastards going on about US friendly fire incidents, let me remind you again that UK-inflicted friendly fire has been documented since at least Agincourt (although technically, I suppose that was pre-UK; it's still British, however). The fact that the US military's fire is much more effective than your "modern" Enfields has just made you envious and caused all your bitchy remarks.Why don't you lot have any man-rated oribital launch vehicles, hmm? Is it because British fire control officers can't hit something as big as outer space?

    Not so funny when the shoe's on the other foot, is it, Bruce?

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    well it worked

    and the anti-US media is all p*ssed off that they can't report a failure. Instead, they add the whole "arms race" crap. If America does it first, we're "evil" and it's "natural" and acceptable for the Chinese/Russians to do it just to prove they can. If the Communists do it first, well, that's okay too and America is "evil" for thrying to "close the gap".

    Your bias is showing again, LP. You were doing so good for the last few weeks!

    Now all you luddites, try this on for size. What is better...NK, Iran or others thinking they can get away with a first strike nuclear attack, and attempting it, only to have 80-90% of its warheads defeated by a ballistic missile defense (spewing plutonium all over the biosphere)...or a single effective demonstration that gets aggressors to go "back to the drawing board" to come up with better plans? Planning doesn't kill or poison anything.

    But if you're part of the Anti-Western Propaganda Army then it doesn't matter-logic and reality fall by the wayside-everything and anything done by UK/America/Western Europe is "bad". The same acts done by African nations/China/Russia are "good". (Flying alert-readiness, loaded nuclear bombers over foreign nations-causing intercept scrambles, anyone? Or did you Former Soviet apologists forget all about that?)

    Cmon, LP. You've shown you can do it. Informative and fair articles without w@nked-out conspiracy BS are better for everyone.

  51. Morten Ranulf Clausen
    Thumb Up

    The Truth Shall Make You Fret

    "I could of course be completely barking"

    Luther my man, you're dead on target... ;-)

  52. This post has been deleted by its author

  53. gizmo
    Black Helicopters

    Who's yer daddy

    Do you really think that the US would show their *true* capabilities. This was just a little public show so that everybody would think that the US tech is not nearly as advanced as it is. In reality, they could have used one of the many satellite based death rays to vaporize this space junk but that would have tipped their hand...

  54. ian

    A salute to the Great Leader??

    It seems that the US have sold the Japanese several Aegis cruisers with anti-missile missiles for defense against the N. Koreans. This latest has several implications on that front:

    1. The Japanese now know that their nice shiny anti-missile's software can be hacked to turn them into space weapons. Given that the Japanese public is not in favor of extending the battle space into ... erm, space, this should not go over well.

    2. The US Navy had to make this shoot-down work. Otherwise the Japanese would feel that they had been sold a dud.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    @Blackley: Is a tinfoil hat included with your bridge?

    So you don't believe the satellite was shot down, and you don't believe

    that it's "not a capability that will be coming into service".

    So, to summarize:

    Americans are stupid, the exercise was not successful

    Americans are evil, they plan to fail to shoot down satellites in the future

    To quote Britney: "huh?"

  56. George
    Stop

    @ Guy Fawkes

    Boot other foot? You show me a fatal incident in the last 5 years involving friendly fire from British troops against US troops.

    I am guessing you are American and therefore find it difficult to take critisism from a country whose army are used to train armies all over the world, admired and respected for their resilience, control and effectiveness despite limited size and equipment.

    We mostly all respect the US on some level but you should never mistake this for blind respect ignoring all previous incidents.

    Nobody is perfect.

  57. heystoopid
    Coat

    @ian

    @ian surely you jest since the bulk of the US military electronics is heavily dependent on Japanese Microelectronics to function at the best of times !

    As for the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force they always build their own and are actually based on a heavily modified Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer

    the second link gives the break down and disposition of the the Japanese Maritime Force current largest class in use is in fact Destroyers with displacements less the 12,000 tonnes.

    Further they only have six commissioned aegis class destroyers in their entire fleet .

    link 1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kong%C5%8D_class_destroyer

    link 2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Maritime_Self-Defense_Force

    (I'll get my coat)

  58. Thomas Allen
    Coat

    You say 'vapour' I say 'vapor'

    It is highly unlikely that US marine general James Cartwright - vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said anything about a "vapour cloud". To quote a US General properly, you must know he would say "vapor cloud".

    Further, when British missiles hit a British satellite, you may call the resultant dispersed gases a "vapuor cloud" but so long as American missiles hit American satellites, I must tell you, scientifically, that only vapor clouds are released. American satellites emit only vapor clouds, and never vapour clouds.

    The frayed jeans-jacket, please.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    British friendly fire on allied troops

    You asked for it, you got it!

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3070875.ece

  60. George

    @ Anonymous Coward

    Fair enough, I'm wrong.

    My point about respect still stands

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @AC and other defensive types

    Yeah, but they're Danish...will anyone notice???

    Of course I'm kidding before anyone jumps on the pedestal.

    We don't dislike the americans (well i think i speak for most Brits), it's just in our nature to poke fun at you, cos you all take yourselves far too seriously.

    Also the, John McCain, Yippe ky yay, approach to warfare that seems to be the stereotype of the US soldier, induced by a combination of films and documentaries talking to rednecks who are just happy to be able to hold a gun, makes the friendly-fire joke the easiest one to go for. Plus the fact that 1/5 of British Casualties in Afghanistan were inflicted by friendly fire.

    So sit back, and have a laugh at yourselves, after all. At least you're nation is not responsible for producing every bad guy in a movie (almost always English or European, until the middle east recently took over).

    Furthermore, at least you all have perfectly formed teeth.

  62. storng.bare.durid
    Paris Hilton

    It's official..

    The yanks shot down the last remnants of their sense of humour.

    God almighty, poke fun at Uncle Sam and you get all these yanks annoyed :)

    Anyway after decades of turgid comedies like friends and rip-offs of Basil Fawlty (yes, there was a yank Fawlty Towers), I can't say it's any great loss.

    May you rust in pieces.

    I'll stick with my reruns of Bottom, thank you very much.

    :P

    And yes, paris hilton. just because.

  63. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    FlowurPower2

    John McCain,... Vietnam war hero.

    Hmmm. ...... Did he not sit it out and miss all the action in his own private Guantanamo..... to prevent him inflicting suffering on ......well, foreigners to him but natives to the Land he was in.

    Yeah, Right On....Peace, Man.

    Do you think he is made of the Right Stuff .... Top Gun Presidential material?

    cc Barack Obama ..... the Great White Hope?

  64. Seán

    @Johnny Cobb

    Look at you with your brain all sweaty. I just watched Idiocracy so I'm well amused at you. You realise when it says "enemies foreign and domestic" domestic doesn't mean beer, or immigrant labour. 911 is a joke, is one of my favourite Public Enemy songs.

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