Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Star Wars Defence Initiative

Missile Hit Dying Satellite, Official Says - Orlando News Story - WKMG Orlando
In case you were wondering, the ship-launched SM3 missile DID hit the satellite, according to "one official" (of the two interviewed). He said it was to early to determine whether it hit the specific fuel tank, the contents of which constituted a 'toxic substance' (hydrazine) which, it was hoped, would vent into empty space rather than to be carried back to the surface of the earth.

Maybe tomorrow we'll know about that.

Sure hope that it lands in the sea, as opposed to on land where people are vulnerable to impact.

For those who haven't been keeping track of the SWDI project, this is Ronald Reagan's continental defense system against ICBMs. It has taken over 20 years to develop to the point where defenders were able to destroy 12 of the 14 test missiles ... which were rated at about 3' long, which is much smaller than the satellite whose orbit had decayed to the point where it was destined to fall from the sky. The SM3 missiles had been planned to hit the satellite at an altitude of about 150 miles above the earth, outside the atmosphere, and as such constituted a much more difficult than the guided missiles which it had been designed to target.

Why was this a more difficult target?

The missile was essentially 'heat homing', as would be the case in relatively short-flight ground-launched ground-to-ground missiles with a flight time of mere hours, if not missiles -- thus retaining much of the heat of the engine firing.

The satellite had been orbiting in space long enough for the heat-energy to have been radiated away, so the only hope of the project designers was that the satellite might have absorbed sufficient heat from the sun to be detected against the background of cold space.

According to McClatchey Newspapers (via World Net Daily), the closing velocity between missile and target was around 22,000mph. Much of the preceding comments were based on information available from this website during the past few days.

(See also the article at Defenslink)

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