China Attempted To Blind U.S. Satellites With Laser
By VAGO MURADIAN
China has fired high-power lasers at U.S. spy satellites flying over its territory in what experts see as a test of Chinese ability to blind the spacecraft, according to sources.
It remains unclear how many times the ground-based laser was tested against U.S. spacecraft or whether it was successful.
But the combination of China’s efforts and advances in Russian satellite jamming capabilities illustrate vulnerabilities to the U.S. space network are at the core of U.S. Air Force plans to develop new space architectures and highly classified systems, according to sources.
According to experts, lasers — depending on their power level — could blind electro-optical satellites like the giant Keyhole spacecraft or even interfere with radar satellites like the Lacrosse. Blinding, one source said, is different than disabling given the enormous power required to shoot a laser through the dense lower atmosphere and reach a fast-moving satellite in space. The hardware on the spacecraft can’t be changed given they’re in orbit, but software changes can help them weather disruptive attacks.
Russian jamming systems are publicly known — the Air Force destroyed such a system deployed to Iraq to keep American GPS guided bombs from finding their targets during the 2003. The site was destroyed by GPS guided bombs.
Pentagon officials, however, have kept quiet regarding China’s efforts as part of a Bush administration policy to keep from angering Beijing, which is a leading U.S. trading partner and seen as key to dealing with onerous states like North Korea and Iran.