Navy succeeded in shooting satellite
The Navy has succeeded in shooting down a U.S. spy satellite to keep it from crashing into Earth and spewing toxic fumes.
THE Navy succeeded in shooting down a lame U.S. satellite
, protecting people from the possibility of breathing toxic fumes from its fuel. Whether that story line was the real purpose or the exercise was in response to China's test of its own anti-satellite weapon last year, mission accomplished.
Skeptics say that people really would not have been in danger if the school-bus-size satellite would have returned from orbit to the atmosphere on its own, breaking apart as it tumbled to the Earth. The government maintained that a half-ton of a toxic fuel would have been released, causing the danger.
Two tons of debris from satellites fall from outer space to the Earth of their own volition every three weeks or so, says Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard University astronomer who operates an online report that tracks space launches and satellites.
During the past four decades, 12 million pounds of debris have fallen to the Earth, and only once did any of it hit someone, and the victim -- Lottie Williams of Tulsa, Okla. -- reportedly was not hurt by the small piece. McDowell figured that the satellite shot down last week would have had a 1-in-10,000 or less chance of hitting someone.
Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., figures the "geopolitical fallout" will be greater than any harm that would have been caused by the satellite's fall from the sky. The safety justification "poses a great danger of signaling an 'open season' for other nations to test weapons for use against our satellites," he said.
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