A Satellite Shoot-Up

One of biggest stories in the news over the past week or so has been how to deal with a satellite on a collision couse with Earth. The final decision was to try and blast it right out of the sky. But, how does one go about shooting a 5000lb satellite that's miles above the surface of the earth?

Original Launch: Failed after only a few minutesOriginal Launch: Failed after only a few minutesThe US has been developing ballistic missile defense systems technology for quite some time and the Bush administration made it a top priority. Using that same technology, NASA and the Navy plan to fire at the inbound craft. The first window is tonight between 9:30pm and midnight East Coast Time.

"We have to make the notification, but it's possible the conditions won't be ideal, or that everything won't be ready," said one Pentagon official. Which makes perfect sense considering this is the most extreme form of long range shooting ever seen.

USS Shiloh: SM-3 Missile TestUSS Shiloh: SM-3 Missile Test

The weapon of choice is the SM-3 long range missile. It uses 3 stages of propulsion to travel up to 310 when launched straight upwards. The shot will be taken from one of the Navy's Aegis Cruisers, most likely the USS Shiloh. The plan is to hit the failed satellite soon after it enters the atmosphere so any debris burns up during re-entry.

If the first shot misses, they should still have time to plan another attempt within a day or 2 depending on circumstances. Let's see what our Navy can do.

From : CNN

George Delozier
Automotive Innovations