I guess I’ll weigh in on the issue of the plan to shoot down a failed satellite before it re-enters the atmosphere. I’ve got to admit I’m not really sure why some folks are getting so worked up about it. So much hand-wringing in the press and on the blogs. I just don’t get it.
I think it’s a decent opportunity to try something, to push the envelope, with new technology. It appears that the risk of new danger from a failed test is minimal, and that the upside of a success could be nice.
In any event, we will learn more about our anti-missile system and its capabilities, hopefully improving the chances of success should the system be called on to perform its mission in the future.
I predict that if the shoot-down fails, there will be a lot of laughing at the military and the missile defense system. And some folks are certain to whine about the expense. Just think how many schools we could build with all that money, and such.
Finally, it’s fairly ironic that the Rooskies and Chinese claim that this effort will be “the first step in a new, space-based phase of the arms race.” Nice.
Here’s a decent response:
The missile’s make, the general location of the launch vehicle and the target are all known — because the U.S. government has publicly stated these facts. Still, the Chinese and Russian governments are raising a fuss.
Contrast this operation with one that took place in January of last year, when Beijing surprised the world by shooting down one of its own weather satellites in a test of its antisatellite capabilities. Not only was the test unannounced, but it took China days to concede that it had happened. Because the satellite was destroyed at an altitude of approximately 850 kilometers, it left countless hazardous particles drifting in orbit that could harm future space flights.
I guess you could summarize that response to “shut up, jerks,” but the supporting details are always nice.
UPDATE: Of course, if dangerous materials blanket the planet and turn 98% of the world’s population into flesh-eating zombies, I’ll post a retraction.