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Opening Arguments

Space race

Boy, Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in his grave:

The White House reacted with alarm and anger last night after China successfully destroyed a satellite with a ballistic missile, the first space test of such offensive military technology by any nation in over 20 years.

Using a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile, the test knocked out an ageing Chinese weather satellite 537 miles above the earth on January 11 through “kinetic impact,” or by slamming into it, Gordon Johndroe, President Bush's national security spokesman, said.

The test comes amid increasing fears within the Bush Administration over the ambition of potentially hostile nations and terrorist groups to acquire technology to destroy crucial US space systems on which the country — and particularly its military — heavily depends. It will inevitably stoke fears in Washington of a potentially new and dangerous era of space war.

Maybe China will -- tee hee -- share the technology with us so that we may all live in peace and harmony.

Posted in: Current Affairs


brian stouder
Fri, 01/19/2007 - 6:56am

A consequential story, indeed.

One recalls that a few weeks ago a Chinese sub popped up, within torpedo range of an American aircraft carrier battlegroup. Back in the day, the Soviets could occasionally pull off such a feat, owing to ocean surveillance techniques including stationary sensors in the ocean, search aircraft flying pickett lines, and satellites.

The Chinese may have pulled off the feat simply by luck - or they may have chosen to display that their national technical surveillance capability has advanced to that point.

Showing us that they can shoot down satellites (and degrade America's surveillance capabilities - not to mention our command/control/communications/computer networlks) is certainly a critical piece of the puzzle.

Steve Towsley
Fri, 01/19/2007 - 9:08pm

Given how many times our intelligence agencies have been blindsided in the last decade or so, as by a couple of unexpected military advances that turned up in the latest Russian show, I'd say the odds are 50/50 whether our agencies knew about this technology in advance or not.

The impact of this particular system is significant I think, maybe even shocking depending upon our agencies' degree of ignorance beforehand -- even though this is exactly the type of thing that has evolved weapons systems throughout history.

Given that satellites fall around the planet in very predictable orbits at predictable speeds, we should not be surprised that they would become any enemy's duck shoot if we applied these electronic dead weights to anything other than routine and benign purposes.

No doubt we're already working on satellites with automatic evasive propulsion capabilities, to detect, anticipate, map, and avoid a weapon strike -- we may even have quietly put some with the capability up there already....At least, I'd like to think our people can see that far ahead.