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Does anyone believe that this was the only anti-satellite trick up Uncle Sam's heavily armored sleeve?

By Andrew Pollack on 02/21/2008 at 11:27 AM EST

If you haven't seen the news yet, the U.S. Navy used a "standard" missile launched off a navy cruiser with a special 3rd stage which is effectively a self-guided hunk of mass (a big rock) designed to home in on the target in an airless environment and simply slam into it using the differential in speeds between an orbiting body and the missile itself as the kinetic energy to cause the destruction.

Does anyone believe that plans for this sort of thing haven't been in place for quite a while, and that the bigger difficulty here wasn't taking out the satellite but rather taking it out without showing off too much technology in the process? We know China has developed anti-satellite technology, as they tested it recently out in the open. Nothing upsets the U.S. armed forces so much as a destructive capability that someone else has and they don't. So, why no "crash program" to catch up with the Chinese? Simple. It wasn't needed. The capability has likely been in place using not just this method but probably a few more impressive ones for some time. You don't just "throw together" some stuff and "hook it on" to a missile in place of its warheard with a couple of months notice for the special purpose of taking out a broken satellite so that it doesn't have a 1% chance of hurting a few dozen people when it crashes. If you have the stuff on the shelf, that's another matter.

I say bravo to the U.S. Navy for hitting the target. I also say bravo to the U.S. Government for not pretending they had no way to do this, and just crossing its fingers and hoping the thing didn't land on someone's head. Let's just not pretend there is a miracle at work here.


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: Does anyone believe that this was the only anti-satellite trick up Uncle Sam's heavily armored sleeve?By Chris Toohey on 02/21/2008 at 01:30 PM EST
Of course you don't go public with ALL of your tricks.

And I can remember a buddy of mine telling me a story that involved the branch
of the armed forces securing a one-door silo with "BFRs".

When he asked, he was told that "Well, see that earth-mover of there? We simply
'strategically place' a BFR in front of the door...".

Figured as long as we were talking about rocks.... ;-)
re: Does anyone believe that this was the only anti-satellite trick up Uncle Sam's heavily armored sleeve?By Joerg Michael on 02/21/2008 at 01:33 PM EST
Well ... I don't think they were really too concerned with hitting somebody in
the head with that thing. That probability is probably negligible. I think they
were worried that too much of the thing might actually survive re-entry.

Remember, this was a spy-in-the-sky, so there might be some interesting
technology on board.
re: Does anyone believe that this was the only anti-satellite trick up Uncle Sam's heavily armored sleeve?By Danny Lawrence on 02/21/2008 at 01:45 PM EST
The stated reason was that they were worried that the Hydrazine tank to survive
re-entry, hydrazine is nasty stuff (although I personally doubt that the tank
or its contents would have survived)

And come on, you know that the military never admits anything until they have
to, I don't think they admitted the existed U2 until Gary Powers was shot down,
and I know they didn't admit to the Stealth fighter until the first Gulf War.
re: Does anyone believe that this was the only anti-satellite trick up Uncle Sam's heavily armored sleeve?By mdmadph on 02/21/2008 at 02:09 PM EST
...not to mention that we've had this capability since about 1985, I'm pretty
sure. (where we destroyed a satellite with a missile launched from a fighter
jet. feel free to google it.)
re: Does anyone believe that this was the only anti-satellite trick up Uncle Sam's heavily armored sleeve?By Paul Gagnon on 02/22/2008 at 06:13 PM EST
yep indeed. they didn't call it "Star Wars" for nothing back in the Reagan
years. that stuff is real.
re: Does anyone believe that this was the only anti-satellite trick up Uncle Sam's heavily armored sleeve?By MOM on 02/22/2008 at 09:14 PM EST
What I heard originally was the secret tehnology of the spy system itself was
too valuable to allow to land just anywhere. Then all of sudden the story
changed and it was all about the dangerous chemicals.


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