Congratulations to the U.S. Navy for it's spectacular success in shooting down the dying spy satellite.
The USS Lake Erie, armed with an SM-3 missile designed to knock down incoming missiles — not orbiting satellites — launched the attack at 10:26 p.m. EST, according to the Pentagon. It hit the satellite about three minutes later as the spacecraft traveled in polar orbit at more than 17,000 mph.
Because the satellite was orbiting at a relatively low altitude at the time it was hit by the missile, debris will begin to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere immediately, the Pentagon statement said.
"Nearly all of the debris will burn up on re-entry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days," it said.
The use of the Navy missile amounted to an unprecedented use of components of the Pentagon's missile defense system, designed to shoot down hostile ballistic missiles in flight — not kill satellites.
Of course, the motivations for shooting down the satellite went beyond protection of life and property, as it no doubt contained information we'd rather not fall into enemy hands. But there is nothing wrong with a little motivated self-interest, and our fighting men and women deserve a big salute for a job well done on this one.