China Destroys Satellite
Looks like we may be in for a renewed arms race in space. China has successfully destroyed one of it's own satellite in a test to see if it could hit and destroy similar types of objects. The NY Times has this:
China successfully carried out its first test of an antisatellite weapon last week, signaling its resolve to play a major role in military space activities and bringing expressions of concern from Washington and other capitals, the Bush administration said yesterday.
Only two nations - the Soviet Union and the United States - have previously destroyed spacecraft in antisatellite tests, most recently the United States in the mid-1980s.
Arms control experts called the test, in which the weapon destroyed an aging Chinese weather satellite, a troubling development that could foreshadow an antisatellite arms race. Alternatively, however, some experts speculated that it could precede a diplomatic effort by China to prod the Bush administration into negotiations on a weapons ban.
Ed Morrisey, of Captain's Quarters, has this to say:
Does China intend on striking our sensitive military satellites? Perhaps not. This seems more like a pressure tactic by Beijing to get the US to change policy on space weapons. Last October, the Bush administration reiterated its stance on the issue, claiming that America needed a free hand in space for research and development, and specifically refused to eschew the kind of test the Chinese conducted yesterday. Now that China has demonstrated its capability to successfully launch the same kind of mission, the Chinese probably hope that the US will reconsider its position.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is a tactic to pressure the United States to give up a space based missile defense program. When SDI, or "Star Wars," was first put forth during the Reagan Administration, it was considered by those on the Left as provocative and could lead to hostilities with the Soviet Union. It did pressure the Soviets to the table, and, as the arms race escalated, brought about the downfall of the Soviet Empire.
Now, China, having successfully destroyed a satellite, is attempting to bring the U.S. to the table in an attempt to keep the U.S. from continuing to develop space-based missile defense.
As Morrissey points out in is blog article that the Chinese used a "blunt instrument" to destroy the satellite, resulting in a debris field that can, and probably will, interfere with other satellites currently in operation. There is no telling how long this debris field will pose a hazard to other satellites, and there is no doubt that any other satellites damaged or destroyed as a result of this test will not be compensated for by the Communists.
Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers in response to Soviet pressure on the Eisenhower administration to stop U.S. Development of nuclear weapons. At that time, the Soviets promised that they, too, would cease further development. It was not long before the Soviet lie was proven, and that particular treaty was not worth the paper it was written on.
Kim Jong Il was promised nuclear technology with the promise that North Korea would not use what they are given to develop nuclear weapons, and to cease any and all nuclear weapons programs. Their deceit on that bargain has also been proven.
Can anyone seriously believe that Communist China would cease developing space-based weaponry, or the tools to counter space-based weaponry because they said they would?
It is plainly obvious to me that they would not honor any such agreement made, but would claim it did not apply or otherwise ignore any such agreement, thus leaving the U.S. at a disadvantage.
Just because China has shown some capability to successfully destroy a satellite does not mean we should abandon development of space-based missile defense. It does mean we need to take that potential into account as development continues, and work out counter-measures to such threats.
The question is, whose word do you trust more: that of the United States, or that of Communist dictators? I think my choice is obvious.