Thursday, February 21, 2008
US blasts out-of-control toxic satellite with £5m heat-seeking missile
The U.S. Navy has blasted a disabled spy satellite carrying a tank of toxic fuel out of the sky over the Pacific with a heat-seeking missile.
A senior defence official said that the specially-designed missile launched at the satellite, which experts feared would crash to the Earth, had destroyed the satellite's main fuel tank, full of toxic hydrazine fuel - making the mission a complete success.
The 5,000lb USA 193 satellite, which is about the size of a small bus, was equipped with rocket thrusters loaded with toxic hydrazine fuel.
Orbiting 130 miles above the Earth, scientists feared the satellite would crash with the fuel tank intact, causing contamination.
The missile alone cost nearly US$10 million (£5 million), and officials estimated that the total cost of the project was at least US$30 million (£15 million).