Experts Scoff at Sat Shoot-Down Rationale
The Pentagon says it has to shoot down a malfunctioning spy satellite because of the threat of a toxic gas cloud. Space security experts are calling the rationale highly unlikely. "Having the US government spend millions of dollars to destroy a billion-dollar failure to save zero lives is comedic gold," one tells DANGER ROOM.So why would they do it? They might be afraid that top secret equipment and information might be compromised - that would be legitimate. More likely I think is that they want to show the world they can. Of course judging from the performance Missile Defense Agency I would think the odds are better than 50-50 that they will show the world they can't. The Missile Defense System (Star Wars) was never meant to be anything but pork for defense contractors.
Yesterday, Deputy National Security Advisor James Jeffrey said the satellite's tank full of hydrazine rocket propellant was the main reason the military was planning to blast the orbiter. There's a small but real risk that the hydrazine tank could rupture, releasing a "toxic gas" over a "populated area," causing a "risk to human life."
But, as we noted yesterday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright cast the threat from the satellite in much less dire terms. Even if the hydrazine were released, he noted, the effects would likely be mild -- akin to chlorine gas poisoning, which can cause burning in the lungs, and elsewhere. The area affected would be "roughly the size of two football fields [where you might] incur something that would make you go to the doctor."
And that doesn't sound like much of a risk at all.