US Navy To Shoot Down Satellite Weather Permitting Tonight
High seas in the north Pacific may force the Navy to wait another day before launching a heat-seeking missile on a mission to shoot down a wayward U.S. spy satellite, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
Weather conditions are one of many factors that U.S. military officers are taking into account as they decide whether to proceed with the mission Wednesday or to put it off, according to a senior military officer who briefed reporters at the Pentagon on condition that he not be identified.
The officer said the assumption had been that the mission would go forward Wednesday night, unless conditions are determined to be unfavorable. Earlier in the day, bad weather in the north Pacific was causing high seas, which may be a problem for the USS Lake Erie, a cruiser armed with two SM-3 missiles.
"We don't anticipate the weather being good enough today," the officer said, adding that conditions could improve enough in the hours ahead to permit it to go forward. A final decision would be made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The Pentagon had been waiting until the space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth before launching the missile.
"We're now into the window," the senior military officer said minutes after the shuttle landed at 9:07 a.m. EST.
He said the mission could go forward on any day until Feb. 29, when the satellite is projected to have re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, making it infeasible to attempt to hit it with the Navy missile.
How Satellite Shoot-Down Will Work
Oh Boy! This is getting me nervous. I hope they show this on TV
US declares 1400-mile Pacific sat-shoot exclusion zone
Airspace bar from surface to 'unlimited' altitude
The US military has issued a warning notice barring flights above a large area of the northern Pacific for two and a half hours early on Thursday morning. The stricken spy satellite marked for destruction by US warships will pass over the taped-off area just at this time, indicating that the first shot will take place then.
The NOTAM (NOTice To AirMen) warning reads:
02/062 (A0038/08) - AIRSPACE CARF NR. 90 ON EVELYN STATIONARY RESERVATION WITHIN AN AREA BNDD BY 3145N 17012W 2824N 16642W 2352N 16317W 1909N 16129W 1241N 16129W 1239N 16532W 1842N 17057W 2031N 17230W 2703N 17206W SFC-UNL. 21 FEB 02:30 2008 UNTIL 21 FEB 05:00 2008. CREATED: 18 FEB 12:51 2008
More Info Here
Sometime between 9:25 and 9:35PM CST First Shot At Satelitte Orbitting Out Of Control