U.S. Navy Shoots Down Target Missile in Space
During exercise Stellar Avenger, the Aegis-class destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) launches a standard missile (SM) 3 Blk IA, successfully intercepting a sub-scale short range ballistic missile, launched from the Kauai Test Facility, Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sans, Kauai, on July 30, 2009.
Credit: U.S. Navy Photo.

The U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully shot down a short-range ballistic missile in space in a July 30 test, agency officials announced Friday.

The Navy?s USS Hopper and USS O'Kane destroyers detected and tracked a missile fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauai in Hawaii during the test, which was latest demonstration of the U.S. military?s Aegis Missile Defense system.

The USS Hopper fired one Standard Missile-3 block 1A missile and destroyed the target 100 miles (160 km) above the Pacific Ocean about two minutes after launch, MDA officials said in a statement.

The test marked the Aegis system's 19th successful intercept in 23 attempts, including an operational mission in 2008 that destroyed a malfunctioning satellite as it re-entered the atmosphere, MDA officials said.

The next evolution for the missile defense system will be an upgrade to a more capable interceptor, the Standard Missile-3 block 1B. A critical design review for that missile was completed in May and will first be tested in late 2010, MDA officials said.

Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors of Moorestown, N.J. is the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System prime contractor, and Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz., builds the family of Standard Missiles used in the tests. 

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