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Edited by Christian Lowe | Contact

Satellite Killer's Big Impact

There's been immediate fallout -- both physical and political -- from China's satellite killer test.

Debris from the orbital collision has already been spotted, the M-T Milcom blog notes. "As of this writing NORAD has officially cataloged 32 objects... that now pollute a vital area of space (sun-synchronous polar orbit)." The picture to the right is of a few of 'em.

sat_orbits005.jpg"There are over 125 satellites that operate in this portion of space," the M-T blog observes. Those include reconnaissance satellites, like the Lacrosse and Advanced Keyhole orbiters, as well as weather-monitors, like the Defense Meteorological Satellites Program series. In other words, this test directly affects the American military's ability look for terrorist hideouts, and survey a potential battlefield. These are not small matters. "Our space assets are the first asset on the scene,"'s John Pike tells the AP. "They are absolutely central to why we are a superpower - a signature component to America's style of warfare."

Frequent Defense Tech commenter Robot Economist, now with his own blog, warns that "this situation has the potential of becoming the next Katyusha rocket or IED problem for the United States." Even the International Space Station could be at risk. That said, RE reminds us that "it is unlikely that [China's] success... translates into any sort of immediately fieldable capability."

If the spotty record of our ground-based missile interceptors demonstrate anything, it is the difficulty of intercepting even predictable space targets... [And] the Chinese had a pretty good handicap on this test.

Robert Farley sees the anti-satellite trial as "first and foremost... a deterrent move aimed at the United States."

The US military isn't completely dependent on spy satellites (in case of war, the Taiwan Straits would be overflown by enough spy and communications aircraft to make the satellites redundant), but destroying them is a way of chipping away at US capability, and thus indicating that China can inflict real costs in case of a US intervention in a militarized China-Taiwan dispute. The public way in which the Chinese have carried out this test, as well as earlier "blinding" tests, and the recent submarine-stalks-carrier debacle indicates to me that they're as serious as possible about showing the US their capabilities, which is key to a deterrent strategy. Also, Chinese anti-satellite capabilities don't have to be targeted against US military satellites; the Chinese may threaten commercial satellites as well, which would help to metastasize the costs of any US intervention.

No wonder, then, that governments around the world are protesting the move. With one exception, apparently: Russia. Arms Control Wonk notes...

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov commented to reporters that he has heard reports of the Chinese test, but thinks that the rumors are quite abstract and are exaggerated.

In an interview, vice-preseident of the Russian Academy of geopolitcal affairs, General Leonid Ivashov, said that he thinks the Chinese used Russian developments for making their antisatellite missiles.

How do you think this is going to play out? Speak up!

* China Tests Satellite Killer?
* China Space Attack: Unstoppable
* Beijing's Next-Gen Sat Strike
* Why Did China Smack the Sat?
* China Sat-Killer Not Yet Weapons Grade?
* Who Ordered the Satellite Strike?


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Posted by: wa485625 at December 25, 2007 06:38 PM

This is all very ridiculous. I enjoy browsing through news and reading the various sleght of hand delusions that we are fed through the media, but if any decently rational human being considers either China or America or their material wealth(ie satellites, weapons) our primary concern is sadly "disillusioned".

On the first note, American military technology renders our government the ability to manipulate and control any satellite in the sky. If China knocks out ours, we can simply take over theirs or any other for that matter. In fact, some of our most valuable "extraterrestrial" assets belong to other nations.

Secondly, as described in the article, while our current active systems rely on satellites, our secondary systems are well designed to function in the absense of our current satellite system.

Thirdly, our militry and even "nonmilitary" satellites possess active weapon systems to target and eliminate any stray debris that might threaten other satellites in orbit. The very fact that CHinas missils hit anything at all is evidence that the US Government allowed it to happen. Don't forget that we excersise dominate power in almost every potential theatre of modern warfare. Nothing enters or leaves space without out our expressed permission or our "looking the other way." IF the destroyed satellite DOES BY CHANCE bring down an AMerican satellite, then it will be a direct result of American acceptibilty.

Fourth. Our entire global infrastructure is set up entirely contrary to what we are allowed to see. Our relationships with China, Russia, N. Korea, Europe, Iraq/middleeast, etc. have absolutely nothing to do with communism, Islamic fascism, or national factions fighting for global supremecy. This is strictly the conclusin of 100 years of regulated propaganda...a fact that can be proven thousands of times over in a thousand different arenas. Wake up world. The facts are crystal clear and written upon every aspect of our modern existence. Quit believing what they tell you and start believing what actually makes sense!!!

Please feel free to email me or to either compare opinions or to further seek out the truth. I don't have all the answers, but I damn sure don't waste my time with all of the Lies.

Remember the numbers 13, 12, 10,9, 11, 32, 33, 96, 666 and 18. You will see alot more of them in the future

Posted by: Luckynumber13 at January 24, 2007 02:42 PM

Hi Men, calm down. Nothing will happen and it is just a test---still at the low level. We, America, did much more than that.......

Posted by: Sam's Club at January 22, 2007 03:05 PM

Our system is nothing after this test of China.
The best thing we can do is work with China and don't involve in the issue related with TainWan.

Posted by: lh9 at January 21, 2007 02:28 PM

You know a simple way to take down all most all of the high tec. stuff in low earth orbit would be to fire a number of simple cheap medium range solid fuel rockets into low orbit.

No completated guidence, or pay loads. instead large war head each Filled with thousands of two inch ball bearings.

a number of these loaded rockets shooting their grude pay loads into low orbit, smashing into sat. Damaged sat adding their parts into the cload of junk orbiting the planet ever increasing the field of broken sat. bearings and other junk.

In a month or two their would not be many low earth sat. in orbit at least working any more in orbit!

Posted by: davids at January 21, 2007 01:29 PM

See, full of Jealeous and Prejudice and selfish

"say if some of this commie space trash damages or even kills something or someone American (Sat, Shuttle, Astronaut,) we places some real sanctions on them"
"How many more 'tests' do they have to conduct to successfully block an orbit?"------Why don't you ask the US government 20 years ago when they first carry out the satellite killing scheme.

"Wait a minute, I thought we (the USA) were the only ones in the world allowed to do stuff like this??!! I thought space belonged to us?"---------American think they are superior, and others only Apes.

"I unfortunately believe that these are small steps that will one day eventually lead us to go to war with china and also be a set up for the next world war"------What makes you think China will start war? In the past, the European start WWI, Germen Italy and Japan Start WWII, now only US Start War. China, NEVER.

....... etc

Please THINK!!

Posted by: S1to7 at January 21, 2007 08:27 AM

I do not think there will be any more tests from China. A successful one is enough to bring the Us back to the negiotiation table for "restrictions" on "weaponizing space" (Bush has been refusing to cooperate with the world on this matter). In addition, I do think that China is a future strategic partner of the US, not an enemy.

Posted by: dumb and dumber at January 20, 2007 10:20 PM

I'm not scientifically astute enough to comment on the technological or military ramifications of this. I do know however, that this threatening technology was funded by the billions of dollars worth of "trinkets" the American consumer "junkies" buy from this very scary nation.So Americans, keep buying this unneccessary bric-a-brac and someday you'll be digging through the rubble that was once your home looking for it.

Posted by: bob D. at January 20, 2007 10:51 AM

JEFF: You are absolutely correct. I think Klinton should be tried as a traitor, but he will not get a conviction in the press like he would have if he had been a Conservative Republican. The Klintons are left over dope smoking flower children from the 60's who think sharing sensitive info with our enemies levels the playing field, keeping our enemies from being insecure and thus more trigger happy. Sadly, this is the way many liberals think. They don't understand the concept of peace through superior fire power. Klinton is a traitor egged on by his wild-eyed co-conspirator wife.

Posted by: Ken at January 20, 2007 02:40 AM

well everybody that has a gps and any other gadgets, better start remmebering how the oldfashion way.

Posted by: frank at January 19, 2007 11:40 PM

for more:

Posted by: no one in particular at January 19, 2007 11:35 PM

China's multiple public statements about "weaponizing space", and the lack of UN or international controls restricting the use of military force in space makes this episode even more intriguing. What if, for instance, the Chinese are seeking to prompt international attention and gain international support for restrictions to be placed against the use of military force against objects in orbit?

Posted by: no one in particular at January 19, 2007 11:31 PM

The best defensive move is an offensive move. Knock out all their works they've put up, and tell the coniving theives to shut up..or put up.
I've read official works from people in charge in China, what they plan to do with us within 5

Posted by: Lee Terry at January 19, 2007 10:12 PM

Eric - In response to your question, I don't think this test will make huge waves in low earth orbit.

SPACETRACK has logged only 40 >10cm pieces so far, but the space geeks over at ACW have calculated there could be up to 800 >10cm pieces. Given that there already is an estimate 10,000 pieces of debris that size already out there in LEO, even this worst case scenario only represents an 8% increase in an already crowded sky.

As for specific sat systems, FY-1C was in a pretty popular orbit, but it was too low to have a significant impact on the U.S.'s GPS or Lacrosse constellations. I'm not really sure where most of our keyhole and optical imagery satellites are nowadays though.

Posted by: Robot Economist at January 19, 2007 08:02 PM

What if the real purpose of the weapon turns out to be filling a much needed orbit with "test" debris, thus denying the U.S. unobstructed usage for the near future. Showering American spy satellites with "accidental" test debris could be very hard to pinpoint as an act of war.

Posted by: Spaceman Spiff at January 19, 2007 06:49 PM

All our enemies are now steppong forward. First it was North Korea followed by Iran with their nuclear programs and now China. They consider the U.S. to be so bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan that we will be unable to stop them. This war against terrorism is fixing to expand into a world war.

Posted by: Sean Collins at January 19, 2007 06:20 PM

Hey, just a high-tech warfare! Just watch which side got a better research lab and brain!! I would not bid any money on China in the long run.

Posted by: Yeong at January 19, 2007 05:23 PM

I unfortunately believe that these are small steps that will one day eventually lead us to go to war with china and also be a set up for the next world war.

Posted by: Stephen at January 19, 2007 05:22 PM

Wait a minute, I thought we (the USA) were the only ones in the world allowed to do stuff like this??!! I thought space belonged to us?

Posted by: MinorRipper at January 19, 2007 04:33 PM

It nice to see the legacy of the Clintons being brought to the fore front. Let us not forget that "Slick Willy" also let the Panamains turn over operation of the Canal to the Chinese, so in time of war they could close down the Canal. Back to the subject at hand, Clinton gave Ron Brown the OK to let Hughes Space & Comm. division fix all the problems the Chinese were having with their launching and placeing in orbit satelites and other things. In return Clinton was payed several million dollars for his re-election bid. When it finally came out that all this was taking place (oh and let us not forget the Chinese spy that stole all the current designs for our atonic warheads fron White Sands)Ron Brown was killed so he did not have to testify, and tow Chinese "businessmen" where sent to jail.
God help us if Hilary gets elected, she is even worse than Bill. She will just give everthing away for free, or just sureeder to the Chinese.
have a nice day.

Posted by: Jeff at January 19, 2007 04:22 PM

I say if some of this commie space trash damages or even kills something or someone American (Sat, Shuttle, Astronaut,) we places some real sanctions on them.

Posted by: JH at January 19, 2007 03:23 PM

Are any readers competent to evaluate how much a new clump of debris ups the likelihood of a collision with existing satellites? I'd guess the likelihood is still pretty low, but I am no expert.

Posted by: Eric Hundman at January 19, 2007 12:35 PM

How many more 'tests' do they have to conduct to successfully block an orbit?

Posted by: Rob at January 19, 2007 12:30 PM

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