Navy Hits Sat, Probably Fuel Tank:

The Pentagon believes the Navy Standard Missile-3 fired from the USS Lake Erie at a decaying satellite likely struck the loaded, and toxic, fuel tank as intended. After an early delay because of rough seas, the Erie fired the SM-3 Wednesday night about 10:26 p.m. EST at the non-functioning intelligence satellite as it traveled in space about 133 nautical miles above the Pacific Ocean, according to a DOD statement. President Bush elected to attempt a shootdown because the satellite still had a full load of fuel. The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., confirmed that the SM-3 had intercepted the satellite, which broke into pieces. Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Thursday told reporters that the Pentagon has “a high degree of confidence that we got the tank.” A definite answer won’t come for another day or two as analysts review the data, but Cartwright did say initial views of the debris field show nothing larger than a football. (American Forces Press Service report by Gerry Gilmore)