On Wednesday, Feb. 20, the U.S. military fired a missile at a crippled spy satellite whose fuel tank was carrying 1,000 pounds of toxic hydrazine rocket fuel.
It was a real life test of the American missile defense system that had a spotty record of intercepting missiles at lower altitudes. it was no sure thing. The missiles had to be reprogrammed to strike a satellite. Planners also had to wait until the satellite had been warmed by the sun so that the missile's heat seeking sensor would have an easier time finding it.
But the missile struck its target deadon at 22,000 mph. A video released by the military showed a fireball and vapor cloud erupting as the missile struck the satellite. Tens of thousands of McClatchy readers watched the video shown here.
Two other missiles that had been programmed in case the first one missed weren't needed.