Friday, January 19, 2007

Antisatellite Weapon Tested

The recent Chinese testing of an anti-satellite weapon will make the world even more dangerous. The US is dependent on satellites for surveillance and electronic intercepts, command, control and communications, and much more. Attacks on these systems could render us blind, deaf and dumb. Because we rely on these systems, we're limited to how we can counter-attack since "blowing up" an enemy satellite creates space debris which could damage our own spacecraft.

Defense Tech: China Space Attack: Unstoppable:

"The Chinese test, now confirmed by the National Security Council, would be the first successful anti-satellite weapons trial since 1985, when the United States used an F-15 and a kill vehicle to destroy the Solwind research satellite. And that trial was dangerous -- not just for its target, but for nearly everything orbiting in space, Hitchens notes. Even small pieces of space debris can be lethal to spacecraft. The '85 test 'resulted in more than 250 pieces of debris, the last of which deorbited in 2002.'

The Chinese trial could 'lead to nearly 800 debris fragments of size 10 cm or larger, nearly 40,000 debris fragments with size between 1 and 10 cm, and roughly 2 million fragments of size 1 mm or larger,' the Union of Concerned Scientists' David Wright notes on the Arms Control Wonk blog. 'Roughly half of the debris fragments with size 1 cm or larger would stay in orbit for more than a decade.'

'This raises an interesting public policy question because we are so much more dependent on commercial and military satellites that the ASAT [anti-satellite] options available to us are much more complicated than those available to the Chinese,' adds Jeffrey Lewis. 'This is a race that favors them, unfortunately.'"

No comments: