U.S. News & World Report (8/26, Whitelaw) reported on new evidence that the official reason for shooting down a spy satellite, namely to prevent hazardous rocket fuel from being released on reentry, last February was false. "At the time, critics charged that the Bush administration was using the toxic fuel as an excuse to demonstrate missile-defense and antisatellite capabilities" but with "new evidence...the critics were very likely right." Yousaf Butt of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics "obtained U.S. government documents showing that NASA's own analysis concluded that the satellite's fuel tank was expected to burn up completely during re-entry -- even though NASA probably overestimated the tank's chances of survival." Butt, who said that the calculations had "optimistic oversimplifications," stated that "the newly released documents clearly contradict the official explanation for the shoot-down."
The UPI (8/26) noted that Butts "described government modeling as oversimplified and biased against likelihoods that the tank would have burned when re-entering the atmosphere."