Successful intercept of ballistic missile target by Aegis SM-3 missile
The U.S. government issued a formal notice warning ships and planes to stay clear of a large area of the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii.
The notice says the two- and-a-half hour window begins 2:30 a.m. Thursday Greenwich Mean Time, which is 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on the East Coast, and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in Hawaii.
The timing is also after the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to be safely on the ground.
Pentagon officials caution that the notice reflects the first opportunity to take a shot at the satellite, but it’s possible the attempt could be delayed until later.
A near miss or a direct “kill” of the satellite would mean that dangerous and toxic hydrazine fuel would burn up in the earth’s atmosphere and not be a threat to any inhabited areas below. The satellite is in a decaying orbit and if otherwise not touched would descend to earth sometime in early March.