Sunday, February 04, 2007

Space Station Dodges Chicom ASAT Debris

The ISS maneuvered out of the path of a debris cloud generated by the recent Chinese ASAT test.

The test was in a higher orbit (less prone to atmospheric drag) than the Russian and US tests of decades past and hit a much larger satellite resulting in a ridiculously large series of debris fields. A decent overview of the debris field is here. Note that Kessler effects will make this problem worse.

I do wonder, given the apparent needlessness of the large debris field (at the least, the test could have been done in a lower orbit where drag would have mitigated the debris...) if this was not a space denial test as much as a ASAT test.

The US space assets, such as GPS satellites and recon birds give the US a big advantage. If things went south the Chinese might be willing to shut space off completely for a few decades with a big debris field. This could be seen as giving them an effective tactical advantage by gutting several US (and NATO and Japanese...and Taiwanese) capabilities.
This would be an extreme option, but it would force other nations to fight against China's strengths rather than use photo recon and GPS to shoot silver bullets at vulnerable points.


That's disturbing

No comments: