Pentagon: Missile hit satellite's fuel tank, destroyed toxic chemicals

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon said Monday it has a "high degree of confidence" that the missile fired at a dead U.S. spy satellite in space destroyed the satellite's fuel tank as planned.

In its most definitive statement yet on the outcome of last Wednesday's shootdown over the Pacific, the Pentagon said based on debris analysis it is clear the Navy missile destroyed the fuel tank, "reducing, if not eliminating, the risk to people on Earth from the hazardous chemical."

The tank had 1,000 pounds of hydrazine, a toxic substance that U.S. government officials believed posed a potential health hazard to humans if the satellite had descended to Earth on its own.

Pentagon officials had said almost immediately after the shootdown by a missile fired from the USS Lake Erie that it appeared the tank had been hit squarely, but they conducted further analysis before reaching a final conclusion.

As of Monday there had been no reports of debris landing on Earth, and it is unlikely any will remain intact to impact the ground, the Pentagon statement said.

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