Featuring the works and commentary of Andrew Bruss

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chinese/American feud in Space

Although Ronald Reagan abandoned the Star Wars program in the 1980’s, technology has caught up, and according to Wikileaks, the U.S. and China are already beefing over alleged tests of space weapons.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the United States shot down an aging spy satellite as a show of strength, not because of a fear of its reentry into the atmosphere. In January of 2007, China shot down one of its own weather satellites 530 miles above the earth, and this freaked the U.S. out.

According to the leaked diplomatic cables, the American missile launch against our satellite was not about keeping it out of the atmosphere, but to show the Chinese that two can play the Star Wars game.

The Telegraph reports: “In secret dispatches, US officials indicated that the strike was, in fact, military in nature. Immediately after the US Navy missile destroyed the satellite, the American Embassy in China received ‘direct confirmation of the results of the anti-satellite test’ from the US military command in the Pacific, according to a secret memo. The strike marked the high point of tensions between Washington and Beijing over the issue of ballistic missile defense. The cables show that China was deeply concerned about America’s plans to place missile defense radars in Japan. Another document discloses that the US was allegedly developing an ‘airborne laser system’ to counter the threat from “Chinese military build up.”

In response to the report, the Pentagon released a statement Wednesday night saying: “The President's June 2010 National Space Policy requires the Dept. of Defense (DoD) to have a range of options and capabilities. Our overriding objective is to promote the peaceful use of space. The United States did not engage our own satellite to test or demonstrate an anti-satellite (ASAT) capability. The purpose was to prevent the satellite's hydrazine fuel from causing potential harm to life on the ground. To conduct this engagement, we had to make modifications to three sea-based missile defense interceptors, three ships, and the system's command and control software. We have not made these modifications to any other missile defense system, nor do we plan to. Our missile defense systems are not intended or designed to engage satellites.”

Oppenheimer tells us that science cannot be stopped, and given the heavy commercialization of space in the near-future, this technology is only going to evolve and proliferate. It’s doubtful that the Star Wars of our future will feature warp-drives or Wookie-sidekicks, but as the weaponization of our orbit moves forward, the idea of future conflicts playing out in the heavens will be far from science fiction.

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