Satellite Shootdown May Cost $60M

Navy likely to take aim next week, after shuttle Atlantis returns
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2008 11:51 AM CST
A successful hit on the spy satellite will spread space debris, so the US Navy won't try anything until after the space shuttle Atlantis has safely returned to Earth next week. (AP Photo/NASA)   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – The Navy's attempt to shoot down a malfunctioning spy satellite will cost up to $60 million, CNN reports. Three Navy ships are preparing for the mission, which could take place next week, but only after the space shuttle Atlantis returns. The Navy hopes to destroy the satellite, which has half a ton of toxic fuel aboard, before it crashes to Earth in the next few weeks.

The Navy's been working on the plan since January, modifying the ships' missile-defense systems to hit the satellite in low orbit. "It's a bit of an imprecise science at this point," admitted one. One scientist put the odds of a successful hit at 50/50. Six emergency teams have been placed around the US ready to act if the satellite crashes, the AP reports.