At 5:28 PM EST on Jan. 11, 2007, a satellite arced over southern China. It was small -- just 6 ft. long -- a tiny object in the heavens, steadily bleeping its location to ground stations below, just as it had every day for the past seven years. And then it was gone, transformed into a cloud of debris hurtling at nearly 16,000 mph along the main thoroughfare used by orbiting spacecraft.
It was not the start of the world's first war in space, but it could have been. It was just a test: The satellite was a defunct Chinese weather spacecraft. And the country that destroyed it was China. According to reports, a mobile launcher at the Songlin test facility near Xichang, in Sichuan province, lofted a multistage solid-fuel missile topped with a kinetic kill vehicle. Traveling nearly 18,000 mph, the kill vehicle intercepted the sat and -- boom -- obliterated it. "It was almost just a dead-reckoning flight with little control over the intercept path," says Phillip S. Clark, an independent British authority who has written widely on the Chinese and Russian space programs.
For China, a nation that has already sent humans into space and developed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the technology involved in the test was hardly remarkable. But as a demonstration of a rising military posture, it was a surprisingly aggressive act, especially since China has long pushed for an international treaty banning space weapons.Read the full story from Popular Mechanics posted HERE on Military.com...