“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Satellite Killer. Here's Hoping We Hit It.

We are shooting down the satellite to prove  we can.

There are many good reasons for doing so. The Chinese are making remarkable progress in the military use of space. They are also developing technology to neutralize US space based communications and combat control.

Surface to surface missile technology is becoming more lethal, less expensive and more widely available. GPS is no longer an American monopoly.

All this makes US carrier fleets more vulnerable than at any time since the Battle of Midway. Surface ships are vulnerable to anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, unmanned aircraft systems and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Russians, Chinese, and the Indians all have the technology that can sink our carriers.

Putin is becoming more and more paranoid about US intentions towards Russia. India and China are merchants to the world and it is only a matter of time before countries such as Iran will get carrier killing weapons systems. All of these systems are satellite dependent.

The US deterrence of exchanging a carrier for an enemies' satellite system is exchanging a queen for a king.

Good shooting.

USA to shoot down rogue satellite


In a scenario reminiscent of Hollywood science fiction, the Pentagon says it will try to shoot down a dying, bus-size U.S. spy satellite loaded with toxic fuel on a collision course with Earth.

The military hopes to smash the satellite as early as next week, just before it enters Earth's atmosphere, with a single missile fired from a Navy cruiser in the northern Pacific Ocean.

The dramatic manoeuvre may well trigger international concerns, and U.S. officials have begun notifying other countries of the plan. They are stressing that it does not signal the start of a new American anti-satellite weapons programme.

Military and administration officials said the satellite is carrying fuel called hydrazine that could injure or even kill people who are near it when it hits the ground. That reason alone, they said, persuaded President George W. Bush to order the shoot-down.

An official predicted a chance as high as 80 per cent that the satellite will be hit by a shot fired when the satellite is about 240 kilometres above the ground. The window of opportunity for taking the satellite down, he said, opens in three or four days and lasts for about seven or eight days. Left alone, the satellite would be expected to hit Earth during the first week of March. About half the 2,270-kilogram spacecraft would be expected to survive its blazing descent through the atmosphere and would scatter debris over several hundred miles.

A Navy missile known as Standard Missile 3 would be fired at the spy satellite in an attempt to intercept it just before it re-enters Earth's atmosphere. It would be “next to impossible” to hit the satellite after that because of atmospheric disturbances, the official said.


  1. The spy is falling. The spy is falling. 80% Chance of downing the big bird on the first shot. Speaking of birds, what type is that on the wire?

  2. Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Chordata

    Class: Aves

    Order: Charadriiformes

    Family: Scolopacidae

    aka: snipe

  3. My aunt was a lover of all things winged, therefore she didn't like the Italians, as she had the idea they would shoot even small birds, even the songbirds, a major crime in her view. It's true too, I think. I've read some articles to that point. Practically denuded the country of birds. There was a scene I think in the godfather movies, they had shot small birds. Pissed her off. "Bob, they even shoot the songbirds!"

  4. Missile Defense Future May Turn on Success of Mission to Destroy Satellite
    WASHINGTON — The order by President Bush for the Navy to launch an antimissile interceptor to destroy a disabled satellite before it falls from orbit carries opportunity, but also potential embarrassment, for the administration and advocates of its missile defense program.

    The decision was described by senior officials as designed solely to protect populated areas from space debris, and not to showcase how the emerging missile defense arsenal could be reprogrammed to counter an unexpected threat: in this case hazardous rocket fuel aboard the dead satellite.

    Even so, the attempt, expected within the next two weeks, will again throw into sharp relief the administration’s antipathy to treaties limiting antisatellite weapons, which puts the United States opposite China and Russia, which just this week proposed a new pact banning space weapons.

    Often compared to hitting a bullet with a bullet, the shooting down of ballistic missiles with an interceptor rocket is difficult, as an adversary’s warheads would be launched unexpectedly on relatively short arcs — and most likely more than one at a time.

    So it should be easier for the Standard Missile 3, a Navy weapon launched from an Aegis cruiser in the northern Pacific, to find and strike a satellite almost the size of a school bus making orbits almost as regular as bus routes around the globe, 16 times a day.

    Should it succeed, the accomplishment would embolden those who champion even more spending on top of the $57.8 billion appropriated by Congress for missile defenses since the Bush administration’s first budget in the 2002 fiscal year.

    It might even revive a dormant effort to focus the military on antisatellite operations, as well. Failure, on the other hand, would be cited as hard and fresh evidence for those who point to the futility of space-warfare programs.

    Beyond arguments over whether antimissile weapons also provide thinly cloaked antisatellite capabilities, and Russia’s caustic opposition to building American missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, the highly unusual mission to destroy an American spy satellite has highlighted what historically was a sideshow of superpower nuclear arms control negotiations, the question of whether to ban space weapons altogether.

    The United States is perhaps the nation most dependent on satellites, both for commerce and for military communications, reconnaissance and targeting. And, to be sure, the Bush administration was harshly critical when the Chinese launched an antisatellite missile last year, the first time any nation had blasted an object in space in the 22 years since the United States last conducted such a test.

    At the same time, however, the United States has resisted suggestions that a new arms-control regime be negotiated to govern space weapons, and has asserted its sovereign right to defend its own access to space and to deny it to others in future wars.

    “The administration places a higher priority on military flexibility and does not want to constrain military options,” said Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center, an arms-control advocacy organization.

    That assessment is not refuted by White House officials.

    “The United States is committed to preserving equal access to space for peaceful purposes,” a White House spokesman, Scott M. Stanzel, said Friday. “At the same time, we oppose the creation of legal regimes or other international agreements that seek to limit or prohibit our use of space.”

    Mr. Stanzel noted that previous administrations opposed similar treaties, in part, he said, because they are hard to verify and police, since any object in space, even debris from a destroyed satellite, can act as a weapon.

    During the cold war, the United States and the Soviet Union conducted about 50 antisatellite tests: a significant number, but small compared with the 2,000 nuclear weapons tests carried out in that same grim period of superpower arms races.

    Efforts to ban space weapons, like the treaty proposed by China and Russia, are generally favored by arms-control analysts, even though they view the latest such initiative as deeply flawed.

    During a session of the Conference on Disarmament earlier this week in Geneva, China and Russia proposed a pact that would go beyond the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which bans orbiting weapons of mass destruction, and would prohibit all weapons in space.

    Mr. Krepon of the Stimson Center said the problem with the new proposal, a hindrance that has bedeviled previous efforts, was how to define a weapon.

    For example, lasers can be used harmlessly for determining distances in space and gathering information on objects in space, as well as for beaming communications back to earth, but also can be used as weapons. Similarly, debris from a decaying object in space, a satellite for example, can be as dangerous to other platforms in space as a missile fired from Earth.

    The new proposal, by focusing on weapons in space, also “does not cover ground- and sea-based means that could be used to harm satellites, such as the Chinese ground-based antisatellite weapon tested a year go,” Mr. Krepon said.

    Despite renewed interest in antisatellite weaponry sparked by Thursday’s announcement in Washington, the reaction from Beijing and Moscow thus far has been muted.

  5. Cost of shooting down a spy satellite: $60m. Look on Alien's face when the missile hits: priceless. :D