BELOW IS THE ORIGINAL LAYOUT FOR THE TWO MSN ARTICLES WHICH PLACED THE ASTEROID NEAR MISS REPORT ADJACENT TO THE REPORT ABOUT RE-NAMING THE MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY. MEDIA IS PROHIBITD FROM REPORTING THAT THE MISSILE DEFENSE PROGRAM IS IN REALITY AN "ASTEROID DEFENSE" EFFORT:

Jan. 8 — An asteroid large enough to wipe out France hurtled past Earth at a distance of a half-million miles just days after scientists spotted it. The asteroid, dubbed 2001 YB5, came within 520,000 miles of Earth on Monday, approximately twice the distance of the moon.

DOZENS OF ASTEROIDS pass close by the Earth each year, though 2001 YB5 was closer than most. On Friday, for instance, an asteroid known as 2001 UU92 will pass within 11 million miles of Earth.
       Asteroid 2001 YB5, estimated to be 1,000 feet (300 meters) across, was traveling about 68,000 mph (108,000 kilometers per hour) relative to the Earth when it zipped past.
       “It’s a fairly substantial rock. If it had hit us at that sort of speed, you would be taking out a medium-size country, France, I suppose, or Texas, or something of that order,” said Jay Tate, director of the Spaceguard Center in Wales.
       Astronomers with the NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking program discovered 2001 YB5 on Dec. 26. Soon after, astronomers calculated the asteroid’s orbit and determined there was no danger it would strike Earth.
       Had it been on a collision course, it would have created “one of the worst disasters in human history,” said Steven Pravdo, the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
       “What could we have done about it? The answer is, not much,” Pravdo said.
       As astronomers discover more and more near-Earth asteroids, they seek a standardized way of alerting the public to the hazard they might pose. Among programs already in place is the Spaceguard Center’s Comet and Asteroid Information Network, which began work Jan. 1.



NEW NAME FOR MISSILE DEFENSE EFFORT
       The Pentagon says the organization in charge of developing a national missile defense system has been given a new name befitting its higher status: the Missile Defense Agency. The agency was previously known as the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
        The BMDO’s director, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kalish, will continue in the same role at the renamed agency and report to the same undersecretary of defense, Pete Aldridge, the Defense Department said. The agency will require “expanded responsibility and authority” in order to develop a workable missile defense system, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a memo dated Wednesday.
       In the memo, Rumsfeld outlined steps for streamlining the Pentagon’s management procedures as they would apply to the Missile Defense Agency. The agency is in charge of developing a multilayered shield to protect the United States and its allies from ballistic missile attacks — a shield that could involve ground-, sea- and space-based interceptors as well as laser weapons.

       The Bush administration has elevated the priority for developing such a system, saying that the United States faces a growing threat from missile-equipped rogue nations. However, skeptics worry that the effort could touch off a new arms race, with rivals developing capabilities that could overwhelm the antimissile system.

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