Satellite Shot Down

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The Pentagon says the U.S. Navy has successfully shot down a defunct satellite that was headed toward earth.

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

(Soundbite of music)


Live from the NPR studios at Bryant Park in mid-town Manhattan, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. We have news, information and we are keeping it snappy. I'm Alison Stewart.


Hey, I'm Rachel Martin.

It's Thursday, February 21st, 2008. Alison, you're going to check in with Jill Homer.

STEWART: Yes, Jill Homer. We've been following her on our blog for the past three or four months. She's taking place in that human Iditarod. I can't believe it's actually here. It's happening this weekend.


STEWART: She's ready to go except for one thing - her bike went missing. She's biking this Iditarod and she specially made a bike that she had fitted and fixed - missing in action. You'll get the details from Jim.

MARTIN: That's horrible. Also, we're going to tell you about the results from something called the Greener Gadgets Competition. We had the organizer and one of the judges come in. they showed me all these cool alternative kind of environmentally friendly gadgets that are suppose to make our lives easier and greener. So we'll check in with that.

STEWART: Our extreme hobby series continues with the art of pen spinning. Maybe even the skill, perhaps the sport.

MARTIN: The lifestyle.

STEWART: The lifestyle that is pen spinning. That is straight ahead. All of those stories on the way as well as today's headlines in just a minute. But first, let's get to the BPP's big story.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: The Pentagon says the U.S. Navy has successfully shot down a debunked satellite that was headed towards earth.

(Soundbite of movie, "Armageddon")

Unidentified Man #1: The two halves are going to miss us by 400 miles and most of the small particles have been vaporized.

Unidentified Man #2: Huston, we're coming home.

Unidentified Man #3: We copy that Commander.

STEWART: All right, that was actually from the movie "Armageddon," because there's no actual audio of the satellite being shot down. But the Pentagon says it happened last night at about 10:29 PM Eastern time. Three minutes after the missile was launched from the USS lake Eerie. Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave the go ahead order earlier in the day.

MARTIN: The main objective was to explode the satellite's tank of toxic hydrazine fuel 130 miles above the Pacific Ocean, and defense official say that they won't be able to confirm success for about 24 hours, some senior military official say observers saw an explosion.

STEWART: After the strike, Admiral Tim Keating talked to the media at Hickam Airbase in Hawaii.

Admiral TIM KEATING (Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii): This is a big deal. It's an expensive proposition. The president has made a decision to execute this maneuver so as to reduce, if not eliminate, the chance for damage to anyone on the face of the earth.

MARTIN: The pentagon says that most debris from the explosion will burn up upon reentry with 24-48 hours and the rest should reenter within 40 day. Admiral Keating says that while the debris doesn't pose much of a danger, the Navy will be ready.

Adm. KEATING: We have teams positioned - you may or may not know - to attend to the management of consequences. Some of them in the Pacific, some of them in other parts of the country to lend assistance should parts of the satellite survive the missile impact and hit. We don't think the hydrazine container is going to hit, that's why we're shooting at it.

STEWART: While the Pentagon is pleased, some other countries - not so happy. Russian officials accused the U.S. of testing a new weapon and attempting to, quote, "move the arms race into space." And China said it was on the alert for possible harmful fallout from the shoot down.

MARTIN: Officials estimate that the mission could cost at least 430 million.

STEWART: That is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT's big story. Now let's get some more of today's headlines.

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