WASHINGTON (CNN) -- China last week successfully used a missile to destroy an orbiting satellite, U.S. government officials told CNN on Thursday, in a test that could undermine relations with the West and pose a threat to satellites important to the U.S. military.
According to a spokesman for the National Security Council, the ground-based, medium-range ballistic missile knocked an old Chinese weather satellite from its orbit about 537 miles above Earth. The missile carried a "kill vehicle" and destroyed the satellite by ramming it.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Taking a page from Hollywood science fiction, the Pentagon said Thursday it will try to shoot down a dying, bus-sized U.S. spy satellite loaded with toxic fuel on a collision course with the 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 dramatic maneuver may 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, convinced President Bush to order the shoot-down.
"That is the only thing that breaks it out, that is worthy of taking extraordinary measures," said Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a Pentagon briefing.
He predicted a fairly high chance - as much as 80 percent - of hitting the satellite, which will be about 150 miles up when the shot is fired. The window of opportunity for taking the satellite down, Cartwright said, opens in three or four days and lasts for about seven or eight days....