There's been immediate fallout -- both physical and political -- from China's satellite killer test.Debris from the orbital collision has already been spotted, the M-T Milcom blog notes. "As of this writing NORAD has officially cataloged 32 objects... that now pollute a vital area of space (sun-synchronous polar orbit)." The picture to the right is of a few of 'em."There are over 125 satellites that operate in this portion of space," the M-T blog observes. Those include reconnaissance satellites, like the Lacrosse and Advanced Keyhole orbiters, as well as weather-monitors, like the Defense Meteorological Satellites Program series. In other words, this test directly affects the American military's ability look for terrorist hideouts, and survey a potential battlefield. These are not small matters. "Our space assets are the first asset on the scene," GlobalSecurity.org's John Pike tells the AP. "They are absolutely central to why we are a superpower - a signature component to America's style of warfare."Frequent Defense Tech commenter Robot Economist, now with his own blog, warns that "this situation has the potential of becoming the next Katyusha rocket or IED problem for the United States." Even the International Space Station could be at risk. That said, RE reminds us that "it is unlikely that [China's] success... translates into any sort of immediately fieldable capability."
If the spotty record of our ground-based missile interceptors demonstrate anything, it is the difficulty of intercepting even predictable space targets... [And] the Chinese had a pretty good handicap on this test.Robert Farley sees the anti-satellite trial as "first and foremost... a deterrent move aimed at the United States."
The US military isn't completely dependent on spy satellites (in case of war, the Taiwan Straits would be overflown by enough spy and communications aircraft to make the satellites redundant), but destroying them is a way of chipping away at US capability, and thus indicating that China can inflict real costs in case of a US intervention in a militarized China-Taiwan dispute. The public way in which the Chinese have carried out this test, as well as earlier "blinding" tests, and the recent submarine-stalks-carrier debacle indicates to me that they're as serious as possible about showing the US their capabilities, which is key to a deterrent strategy. Also, Chinese anti-satellite capabilities don't have to be targeted against US military satellites; the Chinese may threaten commercial satellites as well, which would help to metastasize the costs of any US intervention.No wonder, then, that governments around the world are protesting the move. With one exception, apparently: Russia. Arms Control Wonk notes...
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov commented to reporters that he has heard reports of the Chinese test, but thinks that the rumors are quite abstract and are exaggerated.In an interview, vice-preseident of the Russian Academy of geopolitcal affairs, General Leonid Ivashov, said that he thinks the Chinese used Russian developments for making their antisatellite missiles.How do you think this is going to play out? Speak up!ALSO:* China Tests Satellite Killer?* China Space Attack: Unstoppable* Beijing's Next-Gen Sat Strike* Why Did China Smack the Sat?* China Sat-Killer Not Yet Weapons Grade?* Who Ordered the Satellite Strike?