The Pentagon said its analysis of spy satellite debris shows that last week's shootdown was successful in hitting the spacecraft's fuel tank and destroying the hazardous chemical.The dead satellite was shot out of orbit last Wednesday night following the space shuttle Atlantis' return to Earth."By all accounts this was a successful mission. From the debris analysis, we have a high degree of confidence the satellite's fuel tank was destroyed and the hydrazine has been dissipated," said Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "The successful satellite engagement was truly a collaborative effort from across the U.S. government, the armed forces, industry and academia working together to reduce the risk to human life."
Pentagon officials said Wednesday night that the USS Lake Erie fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3, hitting the satellite approximately 133 nautical miles over the Pacific Ocean as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph.The fuel tank contained about 1,000 pounds of hydrazine, a hazardous fuel that could pose a danger to people if it landed in a populated area, U.S. officials said. Although the odds of that were small even if the Pentagon had chosen not to try to shoot down the satellite, it was determined that it was worth trying to eliminate even that small chance.The satellite was falling back to Earth after becoming faulty shortly after it was launched in 2006.