U.S. will try to shoot down spy satellite gone bad

The U.S. Government said it's going to try to shoot down that errant spy satellite out of the sky when its orbit decays to about 120 miles above Earth. It contains 1,000 pounds of hydrazine fuel, which "could turn into a toxic gas capable of causing deaths and injuries if it crashed in a populated area." They hope that by destroying the tank, the poison gas will disperse in the atmosphere without causing harm to living things.

In cases of controlled descents, the fuel can be burned off before reentry. But in the case of the errant spy satellite, ground controllers lost all communications shortly after it was launched in 2006, and the fuel tank remains full. U.S. officials were concerned that the fuel tank could survive reentry and that a crash landing in a populated area could disperse the hydrazine, which causes deadly effects similar to ammonia or chlorine.


Last year, China used a missile to shoot down one of its failing weather satellites and was harshly criticized by U.S. officials and others.

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