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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.
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