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US Claims Satellite Shoot-Down Success

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the hope-your-foil-hat-was-on-snug dept.

The Military 616

Readers of Slashdot last valentines day will remember discussing US Plans to Shoot down a damaged spy satellite. An anonymous reader noted that the US is reporting success last night, thus saving us from hydrazine exposure. Of course this makes me wonder- if it's this easy, wouldn't an international super power war pretty much immediately mean the downing of every satellite in orbit?

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616 comments

Wasn't that the whole point (1, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501368)

Its been pretty much confirmed by everyone, the hazards of the fuel where nil. This was all a dickwaving scheme by the military who not too long ago was up in arms over China doing the EXACT same thing but being upfront about it being a test and not using a falling sat as a scheme to show off.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501420)

And you didn't complain then pinko, so why complain now?

Maybe the military doesn't want to create the public image of an arms race? An image that could make the actual arms race even greater.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (2, Informative)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501472)

Except thats EXACTLY what they did... made the entire world think the US was in a arms race with China now. Even Conservative members of our government think this was a stupid move since it basically created a pissing match with China who now know our capabilities instead of having to guess at them.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (4, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501524)

We've been able to shoot down satellites since the 80's. I'm not sure what we gave away here.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (1)

atommota (1024887) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501534)

Except thats EXACTLY what they did... made the entire world think the US was in a arms race with China now. Even Conservative members of our government think this was a stupid move since it basically created a pissing match with China who now know our capabilities instead of having to guess at them.
Except the entire world has known we could do this since 1985.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501556)

They picked one in a fairly high orbit and we hit one in very low orbit. In terms of who-has-the-bigger-rocket we lost by about 50%.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501712)

Hey Tardwad!!!

If it was in high orbit they wouldn't have had to shoot it down!!!!

Dumbass!!!

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501776)

fail

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501504)

Hey dickwad, didn't you get the memo? All right thinking people now hate
the Chinese & muslims because they hate our freedom. Anticommunist
sentiment is sooo 1950s.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501434)

Looks like the principles of Propaganda are still going strong at the Pentagon.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (3, Interesting)

PaulK (85154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501444)

There was no need to show off, we had already shot down a satellite in 1985. The big difference here is that we did this one from the ground. Good job!

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501456)

High orbit and low orbit are not even close to the same thing in regards to space junk causing trouble. China's mess will stay up there for decades or even centuries.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (3, Informative)

Macgruder (127971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501484)

EXACT same thing? I beg to differ.

This was a known, failed satellite that was coming down in an unknown, possibly populated area. It still had a full load of hydrazine, which is poisonous. The satellite was already in a low orbit, and any debris from the missile impact would deorbit in a short period of time.

The Chinese shot a shut-down satellite that was in a stable orbit approx 528 miles up. They created over 4000 pieces of debris in the same orbit, half of them over 4 inches in size.

The only dick that's waving around here is you.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (2, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501628)

It still had a full load of hydrazine, which is poisonous.

Just need to reiterate: the danger from the hydrazine was essentially ZERO. Hydrazine is remarkably unstable. It would have been the first thing to be destroyed upon reentry, just as soon as the tank ruptured or a hose broke loose.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501716)

Which was the whole point of this exercise. The US thought the tank would survive reentry and they fired the missile with the purpose of rupturing the hydrazine tank. People need to easy on the cool-aid conspiracies, the anti-missile missile they used isn't even capable of reaching high-orbit so this isn't a anti-satellite weapons test.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501878)

You're a little naive

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (1, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501896)

The US didnt at all think it. Not one scientist involved said it would survive. The US military use the Space Shuttle as their example of it surviving without pointing out the facts that

1) The Shuttle didnt break up till much further along re-entry.

2) Prior to breakup the Shuttle was in a much more stable de-orbit.

3) That the shuttle has a ton more shielding between it and its hydrazine to prevent it from even coming close to the hydrazine boiling point than the Sat which was never made to re-enter the atmosphere had.

Everyone involved who has no connection to the military has been very vocal about the fact its a government coverup and there was little to no danger at all.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (1)

oni (41625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501848)

Columbia's hydrazine tanks survived and were recovered intact on the ground.

The danger is therefore non zero.

On the other hand, is there any downside to attempting to destroy the satellite? If there is a potential advantage, but no disadvantage, the logical thing is to shoot it down.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (4, Informative)

Binestar (28861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501652)

This was a known, failed satellite that was coming down in an unknown, possibly populated area. It still had a full load of hydrazine, which is poisonous. The satellite was already in a low orbit, and any debris from the missile impact would deorbit in a short period of time.

This is a cover story and nothing more. The hydrazine has a low boiling point (114C). The high temperatures from the satellite rentry would have boiled the hydrazine and caused fuel tank rupture LONG before the satellite hit the ground.

The reasons the military shot this down are simple:

#1: To remind China we can do it, and we're so sure we can do it we have no problems being put on the spot about doing it.
#2: This was a spy satellite, as such it has a lot of very secret very advanced tech, which since it *IS* a spy satellite often flies over land we don't control. The military did not want anything to be recovered by another country. The US has recovered satellites from the former Soviet Union, so we know how much can survive.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (5, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501832)

Some problems with your argument:

The high temperatures from the satellite rentry would have boiled the hydrazine and caused fuel tank rupture LONG before the satellite hit the ground.
I am not a rocket scientist and neither are you, but I have been told by a satellite guy that the hydrazine has to last for the entire duration of the satellite's mission, and so the tank is extremely well insulated. It may survive re-entry with at least some content. If you want to dig up another satellite guy with a contrary opinion, go right ahead. It's a moot point, though, since neither of us is going to find a guy willing to talk about this particular classified satellite.

To remind China we can do it, and we're so sure we can do it we have no problems being put on the spot about doing it.
The system that they used is not an anti-satellite system... it is an anti-ballistic missile system that was quickly modified to handle this particular satellite. The missile does not have enough range to reach a stable orbit like the Chinese test. So while this was an impressive show of technology, it did not demonstrate any sort of anti-satellite system.

I contend that this was a 3-for: the US got to test it's anti-ballistic missile system, got to protect its secrets, AND got to reduce the risk to people. And for what? No risk whatsoever. If it missed - no change in situation. It hit, though, and so now everything will just burn up.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501686)

Nice.

Of course, when all the moron college students start waking up around ten and clear their hangovers, you will get modded down to troll.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (2, Funny)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501722)

You couldn't be more wrong. This is obviously an effort by the U.S. military to cover-up the fact that they used Iron Man to shoot down the satellite....

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (5, Informative)

Urban Garlic (447282) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501494)

I agree about the military posturing, but it's important to point out that China did not in fact do exactly the same thing -- the Chinese satellite was in a fairly stable polar orbit, so the debris cloud from that exercise will be an orbital hazard for hundreds of years. The American military at least had the decency to toast a decaying satellite, so the debris will re-enter sooner rather than later.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501758)

The American military at least had the decency to toast a decaying satellite, so the debris will re-enter sooner rather than later.

Yay?

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (5, Informative)

atommota (1024887) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501496)

This was all a dickwaving scheme by the military who not too long ago was up in arms over China doing the EXACT same thing but being upfront about it being a test and not using a falling sat as a scheme to show off.
People were pissed at China for shooting it in high orbit where the debris would cause problems. Most of usa193 will re-enter in 48 hours, with the remainder in 40 days. Big difference there. A satellite is falling, we may as well test a missile system on it. We already proved we could do it over two decades ago anyways. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solwind_P78-1 [wikipedia.org]

They can wave that dick all they want. (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501566)

Because frankly given a choice between China running over the world or the US I would much prefer the latter. The way the world bends over backward for China; forced abortions, daily Taiwan threat, incredible number of deaths in mines, world leader in executions; makes me wonder just what the hell is everyone so bent out of shape about the US doing this?

At least the US didn't dump hundreds of objects into space because of some idiocy guided test as did China. Hell you could claim the threat is about nil for any space object falling from the sky, the problem is that nil becomes a really big number when it lands in your backyard.

Go and keep waving that dick, it just lets the loonies of the world know that they really aren't in a position to ignore the US or Europe (because I count Europe in a lot of these things - don't for a momnet believe they didn't want it to work). Dick waving is a helluva lot better than throwing actual bombs with little Mr. Mushrooms around

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501568)

Sounds like you would enjoy a move to China - of course your talk isn't cheap.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501582)

I just want to clear something up. Your post can be read as if the US military planned this from the start as proof of their capabilities.

They didn't. They really are incompetent enough to send a broken satellite into orbit.

The follow-up dickwaving was an attempt to "turn lemons into lemonade," so to speak. It was completely unnecessary. The satellite would have burned up harmlessly on reentry anyway.

But it does offer proof that the US has the capability to destroy low-orbit satellites - although it doesn't manage to demonstrate parity with the Chinese. The Chinese are capable of taking out satellites in useful orbits.

The US? Maybe, although we all know how "successful" other US "anti-missile" technology is...

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501594)

China has been pressing for a treaty in this area for a long time and it is widely believed that their own test was an attempt to force the issue. Recently China and Russia again pressed for the US to sign a joint treaty, but the US government were not interested.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (3, Informative)

HawkinsD (267367) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501682)

I don't trust the government any more than you do, I suspect. But your assertion that the "hazards of the fuel where nil" seems incorrect.

Here's a material safety data sheet for hydrazine: http://www.sciencelab.com/xMSDS-Hydrazine-9924279 [sciencelab.com] (pdf). It is extremely nasty stuff. Note in particular the full-suit requirements, and the teensy-sized lethal exposure levels.

Hydrazine is one of those substances where if you can smell it, you're already dead.

So maybe this is just a little drama. Maybe there was a secret self-destruct device in the (totally secret) satellite, and they pushed the button just as the missile approached, thus guaranteeing a success.

But do NOT disrespect the hydrazine.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (2, Informative)

Binestar (28861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501750)

As I said in an earlier post, Hydrazine may be dangerous, but it's also highly reactive and has a low boiling point (114C). During reentry the temperature would get so high that the hydrazine would boil, and rupture the hoses and piping system, not to mention rupture the tank it's stored in. Once that happens, since it's so reactive, it would burn up in a matter of seconds.

No Hydrazine would make it to the surface of the earth in that form.

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (1)

quibbs0 (803278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501858)

I like how every single bullet point is followed by "Seek immediate medical attention".

From the Wiki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501694)

From Wiki on safety of Hydrazine (Its found at the bottom of the page)-

(Hydrazine is highly toxic and dangerously unstable, especially in the anhydrous form. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

Symptoms of acute (short-term) exposure to high levels of hydrazine may include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, headache, nausea, pulmonary edema, seizures, coma in humans. Acute exposure can also damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. The liquid is corrosive and may produce dermatitis from skin contact in humans and animals. Effects to the lungs, liver, spleen, and thyroid have been reported in animals chronically exposed to hydrazine via inhalation. Increased incidences of lung, nasal cavity, and liver tumors have been observed in rodents exposed to hydrazine.[17]

Only one human is known to have died from exposure to hydrazine hydrate.[18])

I was curious - Maybe you are :)

After all... (2, Funny)

tunabomber (259585) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501724)

If it was just about the hydrazine exposure risk, why didn't we just outsource the job to China and get it done for bottom dollar? Hell, under certain circumstances they'd probably have done it for free!

Re:Wasn't that the whole point (5, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501740)

Really? Considering that the US shot down a satellite over two decades ago [svengrahn.pp.se], from a missile fired from an F15 of all things, I don't think the USA had a whole lot to prove. In fact, I think the military people are smart enough to not give any inkling of just what they are capable of (like the amazing fact the F-117A stealth fighter was kept secret for so long, until its unveiling during Desert Storm).

What irked me the most was China's whiny statements about the test, which was extremely benign in every regard, while China themselves produced a huge band of debris in a very useful polar orbit for no legitimate reason whatsoever.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501370)

The US has previously said it would do this.

in other news (4, Interesting)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501372)

The US government has now tested it's anti satellite missiles without looking like complete hypocrites for criticizing China for the exact same thing.

Re:in other news (5, Insightful)

sh00z (206503) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501502)

It wasn't an anti-satellite missile. It was an anti-missile missile [wikipedia.org], and it only worked because of the decayed orbit of the satellite. This missile would not be able to touch a "working" satellite.

Re:in other news (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501830)

Exactly. Everybody's focusing on the 'shooting down a satellite' part, but what we're seeing is a fairly realistic test of a ballistic missile defence system.

Re:in other news (1)

Vicarius (1093097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501816)

It's all politics. They criticized China, because they do not want China to get ahead of US in the new space war race. On the other hand, they did it themselves to show Russia and other countries that US stands by its decision to continue the development and deployment of weapons in space.

Re:in other news (0, Troll)

phayes (202222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501856)

Ah, so the UAS has now created a strewn thousands of hazards into orbit that will last for over a millenium, just like the Chinese did? Or perhaps the debris from the US intercept will be gone within weeks & you're just a ignorant little troll...

They need to be more careful. (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501380)

I took a look at the sky late last night, and it seems they took a chunk out of the Moon as well.

Re:They need to be more careful. (1, Redundant)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501400)

THATS NO MOOOOONNNNNNNN!

Re:They need to be more careful. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501470)

I find your lack of originality ... disturbing.

Re:They need to be more careful. (0, Offtopic)

Garrick68 (1165999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501518)

man I wish I had mod points for you... Gotta love xkcd!

Re:They need to be more careful. (3, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501610)

Do not try to use the mod point -- that's impossible. Instead, try to realize the truth: There is no mod point.

Re:They need to be more careful. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501626)

ur a dumb piece of shit slashbot. plz die in a fire.

Re:They need to be more careful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501844)

America can and _must_ destroy the moon.

And we're gonna do it at night so we get all of it.

priorities? (5, Informative)

Twisted Willie (1035374) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501382)

if it's this easy, wouldn't an international super power war pretty much immediately mean the downing of every satellite in orbit?
If this super power war were to actually happen, somehow I don't think satellites dropping out of the sky would be my first concern.

Re:priorities? (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501416)

If this super power war were to actually happen, somehow I don't think satellites dropping out of the sky would be my first concern.

It's not actually compulsory for super-powers to go straight to the nuclear option on day 1.

TWW

Re:priorities? (1)

Twisted Willie (1035374) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501526)

It's not actually compulsory for super-powers to go straight to the nuclear option on day 1

I'm sure it isn't, but I can think of a few options that fit somewhere in the middle on the scale of 'satellites being shot down' to 'global nuclear war'.
Also, I like to think ahead.

Re:priorities? (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501588)

That is true, but I think that if two relatively evenly matched nuclear capable nations went to war, each reserving going nuclear as an option to avoid surrender, they would go nuclear within a matter of weeks. The lethality and high maintenance needs of modern weapon systems wouldn't allow an all out conflict to be protracted over years or quite possible even months.

Re:priorities? (1)

pryoplasm (809342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501824)

Really?

The same weapons systems need to be maintained at a constant state of readiness regardless of peace or war. Would it see an increase in costs for the maintaince of modern weapon systems? Of course.

Perhaps this could factor in later on, but surely not in a matter of weeks.

Re:priorities? (5, Funny)

KnightNavro (585943) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501614)

It's not actually compulsory for super-powers to go straight to the nuclear option on day 1.
The nukes are typically reserved for the last day of war.

Re:priorities? (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501698)

General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don't think I do, sir, no.
General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

--Dr Strangelove

Video (5, Informative)

groovelator (994174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501426)

A video [ksdk.com]... A great success! Huzzah!

Use your keyboard! (1)

drewmoney (1133487) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501432)

On Thursday, China called on the US to provide more information about the mission.

Silly commies! Just go to MOREINFOABOUTSHOOTINGDOWNSPYSATELLITES.US.GOV

"Pull!" [ratchet] [BANG] [ping!]... "Pull!" ... (0, Flamebait)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501436)

Of course this makes me wonder- if it's this easy, wouldn't an international super power war pretty much immediately mean the downing of every satellite in orbit?

The downing of every non-US allied satellite, you mean.

Re:"Pull!" [ratchet] [BANG] [ping!]... "Pull!" ... (3, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501478)

The downing of every non-US allied satellite, you mean.

When everyone can destroy satellites, why should the US allied sats survive ?

Re:"Pull!" [ratchet] [BANG] [ping!]... "Pull!" ... (5, Informative)

danskal (878841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501736)

It's much worse than that....

If you start blowing up sattelites in stable orbits, you are playing a kind of russian roulette that could start a chain reaction, destroying all satellites in a given orbit zone. The fragments of broken sattelites don't slow down, like on earth, nor is the chance that they come down to earth and burn up in the atmosphere particularly high (especially with high-altitude orbits). They will mostly start zinging around the earth in various orbits until they make contact with another satellite, causing more debris. Here, I use the word satellite in it's loosest sense: meaning a conventional communications satellite, or a space shuttle, or a space station, an astronaut on a spacewalk or even the moon itself.

This kind of event would make the orbits unusable for the foreseeable future - it is a real risk even without people blowing things up - and we don't yet have a good solution. Research is focussing on using things like aerogel to trap this kind of debris and bring it out of orbit. As long as you can take more debris out of orbit than is being created, you should be able to prevent a chain reaction. But for the moment there is no solution.

Re:"Pull!" [ratchet] [BANG] [ping!]... "Pull!" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501490)

I think the US is prepared for the fact that most larger industrialised nations would be able to toast a large number of sattelites quite easily - if nothing else, then with a giant laser mounted on the presidential palace. Just the ones directly over their nation, however.

So as a result they are looking heavily into:
1. Quick deployment of sattelites (ref. reusable space vehicle, cheap launch methods)
2. Destruction of sattelies
3. Use of other systems than sattelites to substitute for them (long flying time gliders, balloons, AWACS)
4. Integrated and 'smart' warfare systems that can adapt to survive on the assets in 3 rather than everything turning black the moment GPS is off the air

Re:"Pull!" [ratchet] [BANG] [ping!]... "Pull!" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501540)

The downing of every non-US allied satellite, you mean.

You obviously do not grasp the perpensity of how inept the US government is.

It is completely within the realm of probability that the wrong satellite be ordered shot down.

Re:"Pull!" [ratchet] [BANG] [ping!]... "Pull!" ... (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501656)

>The downing of every non-US allied satellite, you mean.

Two points:
a)since China has this capability, it's probably safe to assume the Russians do too. Each warring nation would try to blind the other.
b)low orbit satellites like spy and GPS would be affected easily, but I believe the geostationary satellites (weather, communication) are at least 22,500 miles "up". Perhaps harder to down those birds; I can't speak to electronically blinding them, which has the safe effect.

Someone with knowledge is invited to illuminate us...

Re:"Pull!" [ratchet] [BANG] [ping!]... "Pull!" ... (2, Informative)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501666)

b)low orbit satellites like spy and GPS would be affected easily,

GPS sats are 12600 km up, that's not exactly "low orbit".

we know that they know that we know that ... (4, Funny)

mbaGeek (1219224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501466)

the BBC talking heads (on the BBS world news this morning) were being generous when they said that there is "some discussion" about the United States' motives for the missile strike

three possibilities were given:

  1. the US was showing that we have the ability to shoot down satellites (they described it as "shooting through the eye of a needle to hit the eye of a needle"),
  2. we wanted to keep sensitive information out of the hands of our "opponents" (James Bond plot alert!), or
  3. there might have actually been a health risk to letting the satellite reenter orbit (it should burn up now)

I'm going to choose all of the above! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Re:we know that they know that we know that ... (1)

SMD137 (1243548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501812)

"we wanted to keep sensitive information out of the hands of our "opponents" (James Bond plot alert!)" You mean like how to build a piece of crap for $10 billion, shoot it into space, and have it fail on the first day? Perhaps the technology isn't really worth keeping secret.....

Re:we know that they know that we know that ... (2, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501868)

I'm going for option 4:

Some general woke up a couple of weeks ago and thought 'you know, we haven't shot at anything really fun for ages. I wonder if there are any satellites we could use for target practice.'

Nothing is safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501492)

I pretty much always assumed this was possible and that satellites were not safe in orbit from attack by advanced world governments.

That being said you can also cut the Internet wires under the water, or simply nuke cities. Nothing is safe from disruption, we must simply hope for peace.

Dmitry
http://blog.lyalin.com/ [lyalin.com]

NASA Eclipse Time for Hawaii Missing (2, Funny)

shophreak (1119823) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501522)

I went to the NASA site yesterday to see the times for the full lunar eclipse and I noticed that the Hawaii time zone page was down. Coincidence?

Re:NASA Eclipse Time for Hawaii Missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501826)

Could be, but have you checked the more simple answer?

That Hawaii no longer exists?

Yes they expect them to fall out of the sky... (4, Informative)

nexuspal (720736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501570)

All of our weapons, bombs in particular, are guided primarily by inertial guidance systems. They rely on GPS simply to increase accuracy, though the GPS updates take a significant amount of time relative to the distance the bomb has dropped. The weapon relies on the inertial guidance for most of it's trip, using the GPS to correct for errors that occure over time because of physical constraints inherent in the inertial guidance systems. With or without GPS they will still be deadly accurate.

In other conspiracy-related news... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501574)

Has anyone else noticed that an alarming number of our fighter jets are simply 'falling from the sky' these days? I also note the Chinese sub that surfaced well within attack range of one of our carrier groups, which had previously been undetected. Oh, and then there was that whole 'no you cannot harbor here' thing that happened a couple of times. This smells like a new Cold War to me...

The only question I have is, why keep it secret from the people? Isn't FEAR one of the government's favorite tools? They're trying to get us to fear shoe-bombers from Iran an awful lot. Why not Chinese super-weapons?

Probably because then we'd stop buying from WalMart and the economy would completely tank.

Re:In other conspiracy-related news... (2, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501702)

Nothing simply falls from the sky. The rate isn't alarming, you are just probably paying more attention. Military aviation is dangerous and has always been so. I can't think of a single cruise I did back in my time with the military that we didn't lose an aircraft and/or crew on board the ship. It's the nature of the job.

Re:In other conspiracy-related news... (3, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501746)

Probably because then we'd stop buying from WalMart and the economy would completely tank.
Indeed, that massive trade deficit is really helping our economy.

Re:In other conspiracy-related news... (2, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501814)

Or maybe because the Chinese would stop their lending programs, stop the cash flow and take their assets back, completely tanking our governments military fund. The people of the US don't necessarily have to be in trouble, a lot of produce can still be obtained without the Chinese, so we won't go hungry and a lot of the Chinese industry can be replaced with eastern-european or local industry. Sure the prices would go up (although the prices and wages would stabilize to support a self-sustaining economy) and the standards of living would go down a bit but we can survive without the Chinese, the government as it is run today can not.

Walmart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501834)

Stop talking the crazy talk, man....America and China are destiny to be allies. . . Didn't you watch Firefly :)

Good cop,bad cop (0, Flamebait)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501592)

It's obviously pretty irresponsible to put satellites up in the first place if you can't dispose of them if they go wrong. Given the constraints on satellite design, it's also obvious that they are going to contain potentially toxic substances. Given the benefits of satellites, which are enormous, equally nobody is going to stop launching them.

So good cop USA can shoot down malfunctioning satellites
and bad cop USA actually does it? Not the lesson I draw.

It seems to my simple mind here that the problem is NOT shooting down the satellite. It is George Bush's approval in 2005 of the militarisation of space. Let us just hope that the front runners in the election understand that, as Churchill said, jaw-jaw is better than war-war, and try a bit of negotiation. At least none of the current front runners appear to need to hide their inadequacies by swinging their dicks, so provided we get through 2008 OK the future looks somewhat brighter.

What's the big deal? (4, Insightful)

Garrick68 (1165999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501608)

I mean when looked at from a geeky stand point shooting down a high fast moving object from a ship based platform is rather cool.

WW3 (1)

draevil (598113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501618)

Of course this makes me wonder- if it's this easy, wouldn't an international super power war pretty much immediately mean the downing of every satellite in orbit?

Oh, I think that in the event of such a war I'd probably be dwelling more on the hoards of ICBMs that are passing by one another in space. Or at least I'd think about it for the next, and final, few minutes of my life.

I saw this with my own eyes during the eclipse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501684)

I must have been looking at just the right time. I got out a pair of binoculars, and I could just make out the words "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" in the dust field.

Did it say 300 PTS or 800 PTS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501860)

Inquiring minds want to know. I had trouble deciphering with the cloud cover here.

pic of success? (2, Interesting)

amigabill (146897) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501714)

OK, the articles I've seen show some sort of rocket taking off. How about a picture of an explosion at the other end? Surely with such a highly publicized thing as this there were telescopes pointed in that direction, perhaps some photographic satellites as well?

Can I get a tax rebate for this? (1)

narramissic (997261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501734)

Taxpayer money to launch failed spy satellite, more taxpayer money to shoot it down, plus toxic cargo to boot. Priceless.

It's not about hydrazine- and it's not new. (5, Informative)

thermowax (179226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501742)

1. The US has shot down satellites before- in the 1980s. We've had this technology for a long time and everyone knows it. While there may be an element of dick-waving in this action, any nation with a developed intelligence infrastructure (or not, as it was in the press) has known for a long time that the US is capable of this.

2. The likelihood of the propellant tank making it to Earth in a populated area while still sufficiently intact to release hydrazine on impact is infinitesimal. The satellite was launched in 12/06, and represents the pinnacle (well, a year ago) of US spy satellite technology. There's plenty of good coverage in The Washington Post that supports both of these points.

Make no mistake about it, this is all about preventing the tech from falling into the wrong hands.

How'd they hit the exhaust vent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501744)

I'm wondering how they must've got the missile into the 2 metre exhaust vent. I can only assume that Bush used to shoot wombats in his T-216 back home in Texas!

rumors (1)

quibbs0 (803278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501766)

Ok I'll officially start a rumor I heard...Supposedly we weren't supposed to hear about this shootdown at all but apparently it got leaked? Yeah I know I'm like a 6th grade girl starting talk like this but who knows...

Yes (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501798)

All US military systems use satellite-provided technology (communications, navigation) as supplementary, not critical. We're set up to do everything as planned just fine without access to any satellites, because satellites are such an easy target.

Cold War News (IE, Old Hat) (5, Informative)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501810)

Back in the 70's and 80's both sides had ASAT weapons available, or were in testing. The Soviet Union had their orbital satellite killer. Fired atop a Proton booster, it would make orbit and line up with it's target, close and detonate it's warhead, turning it into swiss cheese. The USAF had a more flexible ASAT missile that looked alot like a supersized Phoenix air to air missile. It was tested on one target with a spectacular skin-skin kill as a result before the politicals kicked in and put a moratorium in place to keep the peace. One upshot of the ASAT weapon is that it could hit targets on a moment's notice. The USSR killsat you could dodge, as long as you had the fuel to do it. Neither of these could hit the geosynchronous birds, they were tailored to go after recon and commsat snoopers.

USN's Standard SM-3 missiles are their new Black and Decker tools of fleet defense. They pulled a preproduction bird off the table, loaded a ASAT seeker on it and sent it on it's way.

A little bit more on the new theater missile interceptor;
http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/sm3.htm [globalsecurity.org]

no one here knows really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501850)

"Of course this makes me wonder- if it's this easy, wouldn't an international super power war pretty much immediately mean the downing of every satellite in orbit? "

You can be real sure that is what they want you to think. Whether or not it is true or not is a different story. More importantly, whether or not it is true is mostly irrelevant. The fear factor alone to an enemy population is more important.
 
But on the other hand, there is more than one super power. The US just griped about china doing something similar. So in my mind it was not so much a show of 'superiority', as it was a show of 'caught up'.
 
One thing to keep in mind is that at the level of super power international politics, there are many many things done just for symbolic reasons - we the common people try to read too much into them - the Alaskan pipeline, invasion of Iraq etc. These were all big things done with probably a much different intention than what seems obvious. Some were successful in their symbolic gestures, some were not.
 
Let me also remind you that this was a highly classified satellite. Forget what you have been told about it. For all we know it was 100% successful in its mission and this was all part of the original plan - I have no idea; I am just saying none of us do.

So of course... (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501874)

... this is irrefutable proof that our missile defense system is totally awesome, flawless, and deserving of billions of dollars of tax investment, right?

speed (1)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501882)

The sat was moving ~17,000 MPH and the missile was moving ~5,000 MPH.

I still hate calculus...... (especially calc2!)
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