Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Talks about Successful Satellite Destruction

Robert Gates
Robert Gates

PEARL HARBOR (KHNL) -- United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits the islands to talk with military leaders about the successful destruction of a spy satellite traveling 17,000 miles per hour.

"The question of whether this capability works has been settled. The question is against what kind of a threat, how large a threat how sophisticated a threat," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said.

His arm in a sling from slipping on ice, Gates said the United States will share with China some information about this unprecedented mission.

"Our whole approach to this was one of complete transparency, prior notifications, and letting everybody know what was going on and the purpose of the activity," Gates said.

A three-stage missle fired late Wednesday from the Pearl Harbor based USS Lake Erie made a bull's-eye hit on the dysfunctional spy satellite.

The USS Russell is the second alternate ballistic defense ship to the Lake Erie.

Thursday, Secretary Gates took a tour of the ship and then thanked the people of Hawaii and its military families for a successful operation Wednesday.

"Same exact system that the Lake Erie has on board, same one that the Decatur has, really no difference in the system whatsoever," said U.S. Navy Lt. Jason Garfield.

The $70 million missle hit the satellite's fuel tank, which contained 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel. That could have been disasterous if it struck a populated area.

"I think the issue of whether it will work is behind us and we just need to keep improving its capabilities," Gates said.

He will now travel to Australia to attend security talks.