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Ear to the Ground

Pentagon Plans Satellite Shoot-Down

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Posted on Feb 15, 2008

Attention, China: The U.S. military will soon be staging a bit of sky theater in trying to shoot down an inoperative American intelligence satellite. So, what does this show of atmospheric pyrotechnics have to do with China?  Read on.


The Washington Times:

The Pentagon’s plan to shoot down a failed satellite with a missile defense interceptor in the coming days is aimed at preventing toxic fuel from reaching earth. But U.S. officials and experts said yesterday it would also signal that U.S. missile defenses can be used to counter China’s strategic anti-satellite weapons.

China conducted its first successful test of an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon on Jan. 11, 2007, in what defense and military officials called a new strategic threat to the United States.

Bush administration defense and national security officials involved in interagency discussions on the satellite destruction plan said one reason for using the missile defense system against a space target would be to highlight its potential as an ASAT weapon. The Pentagon has been discussing ways to deter and counter China’s ASAT weapon, which can threaten U.S. military and civilian communications, especially command and control systems involving satellites.

Publicly, however, officials who announced the plan yesterday sought to play down the ASAT capability.

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By Illuminati, February 21, 2008 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Read this : http://tinyurl.com/2dnb55

This is the best explanation so far.

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By Lee Driver, February 17, 2008 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s probably true part of the decision to blow this thing up is based on concerns that someone might get ahold of some of our “secret” gear that we don’t want them to. It is spy equipment after all, the size of a greyhound bus. Let’s just say that’s a good reason. Certainly the Chinese or the Russians would understand if it was one of theirs. So, assuming that shooting missiles out there that miss, doesn’t make a worse hazard problem, why not open it up and make a game of it: because it’s ours, we get to take the first shot, if we miss, whoever drew second straw gets to take a shot, and so on. Could be fun.

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By PatrickHenry, February 17, 2008 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

The Aegis you mention is located in the Washington Navy Yard, 5 miles from the Pentagon, you can see it when you drive over the Fredrick Douglas bridge.

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By Louise, February 16, 2008 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment

Personally I find it hard to believe this is the first satellite falling back to earth. In fact I’m sure it isn’t. I’m equally sure all the previous falls have had as much or more dangerous stuff on them. I understand there’s a whole room-full of trackers solely dedicated to keeping track of all the stuff, dead or otherwise flying around up there.

When Bush resurrected Reagan’s failed Missile Defense plan, it was still a failure. And unless I missed something, it pretty much still is. That and Canada has expressed irritation that every test threatens them. And I wouldn’t be surprised if a few other countries have as well. But damn, little george has to prove to the world he was right! Well at least he has to prove to himself he was right. This looks like the perfect opportunity.

This is the first time in my memory we have been told about a satellite getting ready to fall back to earth, so far in advance. When as mentioned, I don’t think it is the first. Such a sad commentary on the state of our government, when no matter what happens, or what they say, or why they say they say it ... we simply cant accept ANYTHING they say at face value!

Now, I wonder ... will george be back in town when this missile fires? Or did he decide he better not be ... just in case.

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By Lenny, February 16, 2008 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When the pentagon toy fails, can China do it? They can practice for the day they need to blow our GPS satellites out of the sky.

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By Space Cadet, February 16, 2008 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Spy satellites are in low orbits, a couple of hundred miles high, so they can observe details of objects on the ground.  A low orbit also means they must circle around the entire globe, and not stay over one location on the ground like communication satellite. There would be no point in the US having a spy satellite that remained over North America anyway.  if China wanted to shoot down a US spy satellite they could calculate its orbit and then wait until it was passing over their territory before attacking.

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By antispin, February 16, 2008 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment

It’s hard to get solid reporting on this, but the following is not bad: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/feb2008/sate-f16.shtml
They make one mistake, I think: they claim the AEGIS has never had an opportunity to perform antiballistic maneuvers in a real world situtation.  I think there was an AEGIS parked in Chesapeake Bay not far from the Pentagon on 9/11/01

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By wagonjak, February 16, 2008 at 11:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

THEY MISS! What great fun that would be!

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By DennisD, February 16, 2008 at 9:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As if the Pentagon can even hit anything that doesn’t have a blank check attached to it. LOL

The only thing they’ve managed to successfully shoot down so far is the American economy.

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By lodipete, February 16, 2008 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

......what the excuse will be when they miss.

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By Jim Yell, February 16, 2008 at 7:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just read where it will costs millions to shoot down the satellite. Once again no plan for withdrawal, is going to cost big and if no one has been paying attention, once more we know after billions of dollars spent the satellite killer rockets are not working. You don’t get a second and third try when bombs fall out of the sky. Right?

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By PatrickHenry, February 16, 2008 at 7:26 am Link to this comment

I look at it as shooting a couple of new elementary schools into space.

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By cyrena, February 16, 2008 at 1:13 am Link to this comment

•  China conducted its first successful test of an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon on Jan. 11, 2007, in what defense and military officials called a new strategic threat to the United States.

This is like so much bullshit. China conducted this test over a year ago. Maybe they just don’t want US satellites spying on them. How does this turn into a strategic threat to the US, and how does it connect to the fact that the US sent this satellite up, and the thing was apparently DOA, and now they’ve gotta get it down.

Now if China’s test proved that they could shoot down a satellite on the other side of the globe, (like a US satellite in the general vicinity of North America) then there might be a problem. I don’t think that’s what their test revealed, but that would be pretty damn scientifically impressive for ANYBODY to come up with. Just shoot off an ASAT weapon in China, and have it hit a US Satellite in the vicinity of North America. Puhleeze.

Meantime, we obviously can’t even manage to send one up that is operational. Wonder where THOSE parts were manufactured? Unless they sent it up there to get some ‘intelligence’ on a new source of WATER, then it was a flippin’ waste of money.

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