Navy to fire missile at doomed spy satellite
WASHINGTON » Taking a page from Hollywood science fiction, the Pentagon said yesterday it will try to shoot down a dying, bus-size U.S. spy satellite loaded with toxic fuel and on a collision course with Earth.
The military hopes to smash the satellite as soon as next week -- just before it enters Earth's atmosphere -- with a single missile fired from a Navy cruiser in the northern Pacific Ocean.
The Pearl Harbor-based cruiser Lake Erie is a top candidate for the mission due to its experience with anti-ballistic missile tests off Barking Sands, Kauai.
The dramatic maneuver might well trigger international concerns, and U.S. officials have begun notifying other countries of the plan -- stressing that it does not signal the start of a new American anti-satellite weapons program.
Military and administration officials said the satellite is carrying fuel called hydrazine that could injure or even kill people who are near it when it hits the ground. That reason alone, they said, persuaded President Bush to order it shot down.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.