Attempted Shootdown Of Dead Satellite Could Happen As Soon As Wednesday

WASHINGTON D.C. (AP) — The Pentagon says the military’s attempt to shot down a wayward U.S. spy satellite as it falls toward Earth could happen as early as Wednesday night, but no final decision on timing has been made.

Press secretary Geoff Morrell said Tuesday that senior military officers, including the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, are evaluating the situation and will advise Defense Secretary Robert Gates when is the best time to carry it out.

The plan is to fire a missile that would release a “kenetic kill vehicle,” – a non-explosive device – on a path that would enable it to collide with the satellite, destroying the spacecraft and its components by force of impact alone.

The satellite is orbiting about 130 miles above Earth’s surface. It is carrying an almost-full tank of rocket fuel whose toxicity would pose a threat to human health in the event the satellite crashed in a populated area.