Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The sky is falling
Tonight the Navy is going to attempt to blast an errant spy satellite from the sky with a missile shot from an Aegis cruiser (CG-70 Lake Erie) stationed in the north Pacific. From the initial reports it looks like they're gonna pull the 40lbs. warhead from the vehicle and just go for a kinetic skin kill, which should be no problem for the Standard missile (a SM-3, block 1B) being used for this intercept. The initial guidance is done via updates from the Aegis's AN/SPY-1B four megawatt phased array radar and the close in final guidance is handled by the SM-3's onboard infrared seeker. The issue that could mess with the intercept is the satellite's thermal signature - its not exactly the type of target that the SM-3 seeker is looking for and even though its not a ballistic missile, its orbital velocity has it moving almost 1/3rd FASTER than the typical inbound target the missile was designed to hit.
The Lake Erie (CG-70) has been the main testbed for the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system and is uniquely capable of the mission that it has been tasked for.
I've been a longtime fan of the Aegis platform and its cool to see the system in action.
The Shuttle Atlantis landed this morning - I'll be those guys are pleased to be on the ground while the Navy goes for the shot. ;-)
Also on tap for tonight is the last full lunar eclipse of the decade (for North America) and its gonna be a really good one. Here's more info on it.
So, get out your lawn chairs, bundle up and enjoy the show! (no, you are NOT going to see anything related to the satellite shoot down, but still....)