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U.S. Considers Anti-Satellite Laser 511

Posted by Zonk
from the governmental-boondoggle-you-say dept.
SpaceAdmiral writes "The U.S. government wants to develop a ground-based weapon to shoot down enemy satellites in orbit. The laser will be much more powerful and sophisticated than a similar endeavor a decade ago. From the article: '... some Congressional Democrats and other experts fault the research as potential fuel for an antisatellite arms race that could ultimately hurt this nation more than others because the United States relies so heavily on military satellites, which aid navigation, reconnaissance and attack warning.'"
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U.S. Considers Anti-Satellite Laser

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  • From the article
    In interviews, military officials defended the laser research as prudent, given the potential need for space arms to defend American satellites against attack in the years and decades ahead. "The White House wants us to do space defense," said a senior Pentagon official who oversees many space programs, including the laser effort. "We need that ability to protect our assets" in orbit.
    Just doesn't seem credible to me.

    Far more likely it's to protect America's "intellectual property economy" when it's cheap enough for private individuals to launch their own satellites to disseminate information under any laws they see fit.

    Oh - and registration free link courtesy of Coral Cache [nyud.net]
    • by The Snowman (116231) * on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:09AM (#15262013) Homepage

      Far more likely it's to protect America's "intellectual property economy" when it's cheap enough for private individuals to launch their own satellites to disseminate information under any laws they see fit.

      Wow. There's my first good laugh of the day.

      No, this is more of a paranoid-delusional fantasy of the Pentagon and some bureaucrats who don't want competition from China and maybe Russia. The key to U.S. military dominance is our excellent satellite intelligence. While HUMINT helps with the social engineering aspects of war, nothing but a satellite combined with proper munitions can blow up a tank underneath a bridge without hitting the bridge. From 40,000 feet. Our satellites give our military and NIMA a detailed view of pretty much every square meter of the planet, and we use this to blow shit up. No other nation on the globe has this capability to the extent we do. The United States government wants to keep it this way.

      So, we're in a hypothetical future conflict with China. They have satellite capabilities similar to ours. Maybe not as good, but similar in ability. We use these lasers to blow up their satellites, removing their capability to deliver precision guided munitions. We retain that capability. We win the fight. Maybe not the war, as Iraq is teaching it takes more than bombs to do that, but at least the U.S. isn't the country blown to bits with an occupying force.

      • Wow! An intelligent post on Slashdot about the US military and what it actually intends to do instead of paranoid ranting. Thank you.
      • All I have on this topic is a link [schlockmercenary.com].
      • Hmmmmn,

        I do agree with your post to a certain extent, but the US hasn't entered a hot war with an equivilant (or even close) power for over fifty years (and arguably never)

        The hot wars of the future will be with countries like iraq, where the US can absolutely dominate in air & space.

        This project seems more likely for cold/economic wars of the future. Think about the damage to the US economy if Chinese satellites rebroadcast everything that could be rebroadcast (from entertainment through economic/political/military secrets to proprietary source code/ blueprints/ etc).

        The US has always used its military to protect its economy - there is no reason this project should be any different.
        • "The US has always used its military to protect its economy - there is no reason this project should be any different." I don't agree. From my point of view, the US has always used its military to CREATE its economy instead of protecting it. But I do agree that "there is no reason this project should be any different". Though I work with ppl from the US all the time, I'm really not sure about how you see the your goverment's and their non-stopin bully attitude against the rest of the world. We are not tal
          • Good first post :-)

            I'm sorry if this first post (my first one on slashdot) offended someone around here,

            Don't worry about offending people - it's just words (and our ancestors have died to protect our rights to free speech).

            If anyone gets offended, they have the right to reply & debate. That way everyone learns something!
        • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @11:48AM (#15262926)

                  The hot wars of the future will be with countries like iraq, where the US can
                  absolutely dominate in air & space


          I'm sure the French thought something similar when they built the Maginot line [wikipedia.org] - "Now we're safe from the Germans, all wars will be small colonial ones".

          The world can change pretty quickly, as Pearl Harbour or 9/11 show. If you want to survive, you need to prepare for all possible sorts of wars, not just the ones that seem likely at the moment. And a war with China is all two possible. I'm not suggesting that either side want it, but if you look at the regular standoffs over Taiwan, it's always possible that an accident could esacalate into a very dangerous situation. To a lesser extent, it's possible that North Korea could drag the Chinese and the US into a conflict.

          And a war between China and the US would be much more evenly balanced in a sortf of Zerg vs Protoss way. It would also be marked by extreme ruthlessness, and it's hard to imagine that shooting down satellites would be regarded as particularly unacceptable.

          And there are other possible conflicts where the US would be evenly matched, e.g. against Russia or even Iran. Whilst it's unlikely that Iran would be able to launch satellites, they would be able to buy coverage & GPS like services from European or Russian ones.

          Even if none of this happens, shooting down satellites with a ground based laser is a cool trick. AFAIK, the US does have anti satellite weapons already - there was a cold war program to fire missiles from an F15 [wikipedia.org]. Looking at that link, the Russians experimented with a load of anti satellite techniques from kamikaze 'figher satellites' to a ground based laser that fry satellite's image sensors.
          • The world can change pretty quickly, as Pearl Harbour or 9/11 show.

            The world DID NOT CHANGE after 9/11 because of 9/11. It changed because of people claiming it changed, and said people "protecting" us from boogeymen. First it was communists- now it is terrorists.

            3,000 people died in the WTC attacks; twice as many Americans die from heart attacks in a month, and preventing their deaths doesn't require stripping people's civil liberties.

      • "So, we're in a hypothetical future conflict with China. They have satellite capabilities similar to ours. Maybe not as good, but similar in ability."

        You're vastly overstating the power of the Chinese military. Not only are they not on par with the U.S., they aren't even close to being so. Many of their soldiers just go trucks to move around in, previously they were walking. The Clinton Administration made it possible for them to launch an ICBM and actually hit something. Before that, their guidance systems
        • It only takes one nuclear bomb to ruin your whole day.

          I remember at the height of the cold ware, China, the worlds 3rd SuperPower, only had 11 nuclear weapons. (England and France have more) Still, 11 was enough to get them into the club, and so far, they used them wisely. (i.e. not at all)

          Now, your saying that they have 22 ICBMs. Yes, they may not be at our level yet, but their climb is much easier because they can learn from us. Even non and declassified stuff gives you lots of information about
      • We win the fight ? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        removing their capability to deliver precision guided munitions.

        And therein lies your problem. If your enemy can't pin-point the military target, then their next best option is to target a large city. Way to go, that was smart. Instead of losing a missile silo, you lose 250,000 citizens.
        • by AGMW (594303) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @11:33AM (#15262807) Homepage
          And therein lies your problem. If your enemy can't pin-point the military target, then their next best option is to target a large city. Way to go, that was smart. Instead of losing a missile silo, you lose 250,000 citizens.

          Not sure why this is modded at zero ... I think the AC is onto something here! Take this to its logical conclusion, ie otherwise totally powerless citizens against a superpower, and you end up with terrorists, as that is the only apparent way to strike back!

          Of course, the US has historically had the benefit of being physically remote from the people they wage war on - no V1 or V2 flying bombs flying over the channel in US history (discounting the Japanese balloons of WWII I guess). The threat of ICBMs brings this a little closer to home, but we know who has these, and "we" tend not to wage war on them so much! But now we have the age of the bomb in a backpack and all bets are off!

      • Of course, if it were a desparate situation, there's nothing to stop China exploding a nuclear bomb in the upper atmosphere and blowing all those satellites away.

        How much of an EM pulse can American satellites survive?
    • Uh, the RIAA and MPAA are both evil and all, but they are not THE source of evil in the world. I would say it is pretty safe to say that the reason why they want to shoot down satellites has far more to do with Iran, North Korea, and China then it does IP. Is this a stupid waste of money? Hell yes. Is this an evil plot having anything to do with IP. No.
    • by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:18AM (#15262102)
      Just doesn't seem credible to me.

      That's because the primary purpose of this program, like so many others, is to transfer vast amounts of money from the federal treasury to certain politically cooperative industries. Like Star Wars before it, I doubt that there is anyone in the Bush administration that cares one iota whether it has any real military value or even whether it ever "works" or not. The real (political) value is in the spending itself.

      • Sounds like welfare in disguise to me. Perhaps it makes it little hypocritical knocking other countries for being "socialist".
      • by Luscious868 (679143) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @11:42AM (#15262873)
        That's because the primary purpose of this program, like so many others, is to transfer vast amounts of money from the federal treasury to certain politically cooperative industries. Like Star Wars before it, I doubt that there is anyone in the Bush administration that cares one iota whether it has any real military value or even whether it ever "works" or not. The real (political) value is in the spending itself.

        Our current Secretary of Defense, who so many around here love to hate (myself included), would disagree with your assessment. He's cut programs that he deems unnecessary in the past [brookings.edu]. He didn't make a lot of friends inside or outside the Pentagon by doing it. I'm no Rumsfeld defender after the colossal fuck up that is Iraq, but I will give him some credit where credit is due.

        The real culprit, IMHO, is Congress. Where the heck is the oversight? You expect the Pentagon to push forward every weapons program they can dream up. That's what we pay them to do. Congress controls the purse string and has oversight which means ultimately they've got the power to put a stop to these programs if they choose to use it.

    • Just doesn't seem credible to me.

      They Russians were testing anti-Satellite weapons in the 80's as I recall, crude but effective in theory. All you need to do is launch a Satellites into an orbit that matches the one you are taking down, and blow yours up. Car bomb in space, in effect. I guess this is why we are suddenly afraid of this, though I suspect the White House is over-estimating the ease of putting a car bomb in space, then matching the orbit of an object flying at thousands of mph. For what? to t

      • No, this is how you do it. You take out their satellite and replace it with one of your own. Send them what seems like real information, only make the data incorrect, or give yourself the ability to feed them incorrect data at key points. It would work kind of like in Speed, where they taped 6 minutes of them sitting still, and replayed it over and over so they could sneak off the bus.
    • "We need that ability to protect our assets" in orbit.

      Ok, call me an X files conspiracy theory type, but we've already got space defense systems and this is merely meant as an upgrade or additional weapons systems.

      Lets examine the facts.

      -we currently have more than 20 GPS sattelites in orbit. Besides helping you find the closest Starbucks, these are also used to help our soldiers find their way throug remote mountain passes and help missiles find their targets.

      -Military doctrine is to control the media as
  • by hkgroove (791170) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:54AM (#15261864) Homepage
    It'll be ready when Kent gets back from the cleaners to finish mounting the optics.
  • More likely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jim_v2000 (818799) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:54AM (#15261868)
    Congressional Democrats and other experts fault the research as potential fuel for an antisatellite arms race that could ultimately hurt this nation

    Actually, if that happened, I would imagine that there would be an "arms race" to produce stealth satellites, and weaponized satellites that can take down antisatellite weapons.
    • is that they don't just build a big laser, but just call it a laser, not say it's anything to do with satallites... and should the need ever arise, fire it at some bad guy satallite. Could call it a prototype for deliverying energy to those teather climbing robots maybe.

      • Re:what amazes me (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Enigma_Man (756516)
        Or... our 'enemies' could just start building reflective satellites, or even just carrying a big, reflective 'shield' underneath them. It could be something as simple as a big, inflatable mylar bag. I don't know how much heat a very reflective mirror would have to dissipate when being hit by a laser, but it obviously can be done, if the adaptive optics in the 'gun' don't burn out, and that's right freaking next to the output of the laser, instead of through 100+ miles of atmosphere and space. Actually, a bi
        • "Any sensors that need to see around the shield could retract back quickly upon detecting a really freaking bright light source"

          Or as I joked in my earlier post, sit behind one-way glass... or a material that only lets light through at 90degrees (whatever it's looking at at the time), other light would be reflected. Of caues I'd feel sorry for whatever random innocent was sitting wherever the reflectected beam ends up!

          You would also have to be able to compensate for the force pushing the sattalite out of or
  • Dr. Evil: [about his new "laser"] You see, I've turned the moon into what I like to call a "Death Star".
    [Scott snickers]
    Dr. Evil: What?
    Scott: Oh, nothing, Darth.
    Dr. Evil: What did you call me?
    Scott: Nothing.
    Scott: [pretends to sneeze] Ripoff.
    Dr. Evil: Bless you. ...

    Dr. Evil: I will hold the world ransom unless you give me... ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
    [UN members all start to laugh.]
    Dr. Evil: Er, that is, unless you give me... ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS!
    [UN members gasp!]
  • Satalites that sit behind one-way glass! Haha, I bounce your weapon back upon thee!

  • ...someone pulled out their copy of Real Genius [imdb.com] and thought, "Hey, if someone else thinks of this movie and puts a laser in a satellite to snipe us, we should pre-emptively strike with a laser that shoots their satellites!".
  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sierpinski (266120) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:58AM (#15261920)
    Nothing says 'Peace' like the United States blasting another country's satellite out of the sky. I can't see how doing so would help prevent attacks on the U.S. Perhaps the idea is to disable communications and espionage capabilities, but there are other, more conventional means of warfare, as ineffective as they may be.

    The other theory, give countries warnings about removing satellites? Countries love ultimatums too. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I'm against this (or for it, really) but I'm suggesting that perhaps the political and diplomatic repercussions might need to be investigated more thoroughly.

    From a sci-fi point of view, its Spies Like Us [imdb.com] all over again! Sounds interesting and technological to say the least.
    • An aweful lot of modern warfare depends on having accurate GPS systems (if you change your encryption and blow a few of the other guys GPS and communication systems) you've already won the battle.
      As Sun Tzu puts it:
      "Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
      and "Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans"
      Your enemy will be broken before the fighting starts.
    • They've been doing it for the last 10 years.
    • like believe all those other countries would not consider doing it if the US hadn't done so first.

      Get flipping real.

      It is a race. The difference is, are we going to join in or talk ourselves into a corner. The reason people pin the blame on the US for "escalating" everything is that items like this do come up for discussion in this country instead of being suddenly announced during a "military day". Also it doesn't hurt the US can actually do some of things mentioned while other countries would be years
      • like believe all those other countries would not consider doing it if the US hadn't done so first.

        Get flipping real.


        I don't dispute this, but people like you are the reason why most of the rest of the world hates Americans. There's a line between security and pissing everyone in the world off. Sometimes the latter is necessary for the former, but not as often as the U.S. does it.

        Call me ignorant, call me whatever you like, I don't care one bit. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.
  • Now all we need is to put up a satellite with a large spinning mirror.
    • Now all we need is to put up a satellite with a large spinning mirror.

      Mmmm... popcorn!

      (See? Some of us actually got your Obscure Pop Culture reference!)
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:03AM (#15261957)
    Check out the story "Death Ray -- or Accounting Shift?" here: http://www.defensetech.org/ [defensetech.org]
  • It makes more sense to shoot down sats from the ground where you have plenty of power and guys who can fix things than trying to shoot down on the ground from space where you can only hit things if they're not covered up.

    sure, what the hell. At worst it will start a high tech arms race and that's good for business.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:06AM (#15261990)
    A mirror.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:06AM (#15261993)
    "The U.S. government wants to develop a ground-based weapon to shoot down enemy satellites in orbit..."

    As the USA concetrates on the development of these so called lasers, al-Qaida and its affiliates will enter the USA through the porous southern and norther borders and do greater harm.

    Folks, do not be suprised to hear in future that this project has corruption and greed behind it. Remember that the USA spent US$5.99 billion on the shuttle which was never value for money!

    • As the USA concetrates on the development of these so called lasers, al-Qaida and its affiliates will enter the USA through the porous southern and norther borders and do greater harm.

      Al-Qaeda is already here, living among us. Haven't you been paying attention? The 9/11 hijackers were all living in the United States at the time of the attack. Some of them were here for 10 years prior to the attack. Do you think that these were the only ones? Do you think that just because the government arrested a handful
    • "As the USA concetrates on the development of these so called lasers, al-Qaida and its affiliates will enter the USA through the porous southern and norther borders and do greater harm."

      Right, because there is only one person working in the Pentagon and he can only concentrate on one thing at a time.

  • by slusich (684826) * <slusichNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:08AM (#15262009)
    Devoloping this technology could ultimately come back to bite us. The US has more birds up there then anyone else does, and once we develop the technology, other countries will get it quickly after that. Sounds like it's time to start developing laser proof sats.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:10AM (#15262026)
    Militarizing the space in near-earth orbit and creating a military highly dependant on satellites is just stupid. A few missles that blast millions of ball-bearings into to orbit, and the entire planet will be locked out of space for hundreds, or even thousands of years. High-altitude, high-endurance vehicles that can hover over a single area for long periods of time leave us far less vulnerable (we just need air-superiority), and don't make near-earth orbit a target. Unfortunately the current administration is crazy-arrogant and shortsighted.
    • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:29PM (#15263846)
      Militarizing the space in near-earth orbit and creating a military highly dependant on satellites is just stupid.

      Oh, wake the hell up.

      News flash: Reconnaissance satellites are *weapons*. They are also *not new*. They've been around for decades, so space has already been 'militarized.' The Russians had a working anti-satellite program back in the *late 1960s*. We were succesfully killing satellites with missiles back in the mid-80s. The notion that this 'militarization of space' is anything that has its roots in the current administration bespeaks a woeful ignorance of recent history.

      A few missles that blast millions of ball-bearings into to orbit, and the entire planet will be locked out of space for hundreds, or even thousands of years

      No, it wouldn't. There are any number of ways to deal with that scenario, ranging from heavier armored satellites to different target orbits to cheap pop-up satellites that you can launch from submarines and don't have to survive for more than a fraction of an orbit. None of these are as good an option as what we do now, but the suggestion that all someone would have to do to prevent all access to space for millennia is set off a few rockets full of ball-bearings is absolutely ridiculous.
  • some Congressional Democrats and other experts fault the research as potential fuel for an antisatellite arms race that could ultimately hurt this nation more than others because the United States relies so heavily on military satellites, which aid navigation, reconnaissance and attack warning

    This is to say military planners should blissfully ignore enemy military surveillance and navigation satellites flying overhead while they are used to target our forces. Why? Do we want to be nice to our adversary

    • Yeah, 'cause those al-Qaida satellites are really, really sophisticated.
    • Think cost/benefit. Terrorists have access to Google Earth and Google Map now. Every joe shmuck can find a military base if he wants to. So, you gonna raid the marines??

      You can have all the military data in the world but if all you have is a single AK-47 and a stick of dynamite, what'cha gonna do?? Unless you're the A-Team, I'm guessing not a whole lot.

      Same with these anti-satellite weapons... Who is the military protecting us from? The groups with the intercontinental weapons can be rationalized with
    • This is to say military planners should blissfully ignore enemy military surveillance and navigation satellites flying overhead while they are used to target our forces.

      What enemies does the US have that target, or will in the near future target, US ground forces using satellites? Making hugely expensive preparations for a potential Russian invasion of mainland USA seems, uhm, less cost-effective than alternative ways of spending the same amount of cash.
  • Look at who has the most satellite in orbit, and who is a rising spacial power. Add 1 plus 1 : this is clearly a veiled threat to that eastern country, and quite a bitschslap for everybody else having a satellite in orbit. Thank you US military, for finding way of making up new weapon and threat where there was none before.
  • Those of you who were too young or asleep during the Reagan years, read up on the Strategic Defense Initiative (aka "Star Wars.") [wikipedia.org] Here we go again.
  • How about a water-based weapon with anti-human lasers? A certain Dr. Evil might be interested in that.
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:20AM (#15262112)
    An object in a stable orbit cannot be "shot down". Its not an aircraft.
    You can destroy it but all that will happen is that the pieces will
    spread out from the point of explosion/impact and eventually become
    space junk that could cause problems from friendly satellites.
    Hopefully the laser would only disable a satellite and not cause its
    fuel tanks to detonate , since if they do then the US will simply
    be causing problems for itself , its allies and all space farers in
    the future.
    • Right. An anti-satellite laser system could easily burn out the delicate optical sensors of a satellite's optical cameras. However, if you are trying to disable a radar observation sat, it's much more difficult. You cannot burn out sensors, you have to physically do harm. Which is why there have been some tests for anti-sat missiles launched from high-altitude planes.
  • Hell yeah.

    They are cutting down social security but they always find the money to feed the military industry complex.

    From where ? From U.S. Taxpayer pockets.

    Ah, in addition the same taxpayers will have to replenish the military ranks using the machines they paid to manufacture when a war starts - tanks, guns ...

    In short, theyre surrounded in all sides - first pay for the machine, then pay to use the machine with your life.
  • Doesn't make sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Brix Braxton (676594)
    It's kind of like in a real world fight - sure, you would love to bring a baseball bat into the fight but you don't because you don't want the other guy to bring one in either. Seems to me like it would make more sense not to have the technology at all. I have to admit though - the other day when I read that Isreal had launched a satellite - seemingly in response to the actions of Iran it all seemed too easy to do - made me wonder what regulates who gets to send one up in the first place.
    • Seems to me like it would make more sense not to have the technology at all

      Easy! All you have to do is hope no one else makes a baseball bat. You'll be safe forever.

      Warfare is not about being equal or fair. You want to win (however a 'win' is defined in any given conflict) as quickly as possible, and with as few casualties as possible. On both sides.

  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:31AM (#15262205) Journal
    We don't scan for radioactive material coming into the US at all ports.

    This is a waste of money. Spend the cash you'd put into a ground based anti-satellite laser and instead do things that would measurably improve the security of the US against attack from vectors which matter in realistic terms. If we determine we really need to destroy a satellite, we already have specially designed anti-satellite missles.

  • Military Bozos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Khammurabi (962376)
    So, instead of thinking of a better way to defend OUR satellites, they are thinking of ways to obliterate THEIRS? WTF?! If any country stands to lose more from having their satellites blown our of orbit, it's the United States!

    Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they are thinking of the most likely attack that will befall satellites, but the logical step after this is to design something that can divert this type of attack. If the US were to suddenly lose all satellite communications, we'd be in some serious
    • So, instead of thinking of a better way to defend OUR satellites, they are thinking of ways to obliterate THEIRS? WTF?! If any country stands to lose more from having their satellites blown our of orbit, it's the United States!

      Of COURSE! Research into development of a system like this totally precludes any other type of research. Until this laser is up and running, no one in the entire country can be thinking of ways to protect a satellite against a laser or other type of attack. Every single one of them

  • You may remember hearing the name Starfire in conjunction with this picture [space.com].

    I'm a little surprised that people are upset about this technology now. It was developed in the late 80's. I know /. dotes on old news but isn't this over the top for old news?
  • "The U.S. government wants to develop a ground-based weapon to shoot down enemy satellites in orbit."

    They can start their testing by shooting down the hundreds of useless satellites and debris orbiting the earth at this very moment.
    http://www.space.com/spacewatch/space_junk.html [space.com] Space Junk
    http://www.space.com/spacewatch/space_junk_list.ht ml [space.com] Space Junk: The full list
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/solarsystem/ear th/spacejunk.shtml [bbc.co.uk]
  • The race has begun (Score:5, Informative)

    by gryf (121168) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:49AM (#15262370) Homepage
    The anti-sat laser race began years ago. Whilst the US was cutting back defense research into all but the most pork laden projects, China was pushing a serious military space strategy. This included new ICMBs, satellite and anti-sat and guidance technology. All very dual use for their manned program, but by comparison we've been looking the other way whistling whilst a non-democratic expansionistic country that tends to threaten our major trading partners and threaten first strike nuclear assaults against the US is building weapons to cripple the US military.

    My response to reading the article: duh!

    Here are some recent articles on the developments in China. The US is not starting this race, but it'd be nice to keep up regardless.

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2005-07 -27-china-satellites_x.htm [usatoday.com]
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/HD20Ad03.html [atimes.com]
    http://www.house.gov/coxreport/chapfs/ch4.html [house.gov]
    http://www.spacedaily.com/news/china-01c.html [spacedaily.com]
    http://www.taiwandc.org/twcom/84-no3.htm [taiwandc.org]
    http://www.afio.com/sections/wins/1998/notes48.htm l [afio.com]

    The world is, a dangerous place. As with Sudan and Iran, the UN is no deterrent to aggression. Enlightened self-interest directs us to investigate these types of systems for the same reasons we investigate lethal pathogens. Surviving them requires understanding them even if we never intend to use them.

  • Maybe we can use it to slice out a hole in the ozone layer, so I can tan better.
  • This is the proof. FTA: "It is considered a baby step toward developing a laser powerful enough to cripple spacecraft."

    The day the rest of the world realizes this fact is when the armada arrives.

    Seriously though, this technology is bound to happen. And our weapons capabilities will continue to get stronger and we'll be able to destroy OTHER planets with one button. We can't underestimate the ingenuity of human stupidity, so one day shit will happen and we'll come close killing ourselves.
  • by redelm (54142) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @11:15AM (#15262619) Homepage
    Is it good to blind your enemy? Yes, it makes her attacks less precise. But they become more fearful and likely to lash out. Blindly. There are times you want your enemy well informed. Why else did the USSR reveal so much at May Day parades?

    This was basicly the logic behind the ABM treaty. It still holds good.

    With our current terrorist enemy, I cannot see blinding any satellites would help. With potential enemies, most of them have nukers and likely would get very edgy blinded.

  • You're saying the US government have the money to spend on new ways of blowing things up in order to blow people up. Fantastic.

    How come they can't provide universal free healthcare, and universal free veterinary care for cats and dogs? It's recognised that pet owners are generally healthier and longer lived than non-pet owners. This should be expected, since pet ownership provides physical exercise, companionship and mental stimulation. A small investment in a dog or cat pays dividends in terms of few
  • by throwaway18 (521472) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @11:21AM (#15262695) Journal
    This is impossible. A laser beam is a very high frequency electromagnetic wave.
    It is a electric field and a magnetic field moving together.

    The breakdown voltage of air is about 2000V per millimeter.

    With a powerfull laser in a lab, which is about fifty orders of magnitude too weak to do anything to a satellite, you can get sparks in mid air due to the air breaking down because of the high voltage of the electric part of the electromagnetic wave.

    You cannot generate a laser beam powerfull enough to destroy a satellite from the ground. IF you tried you would just make a lot of plasma in the air above your laser. Focusing lots of little lasers on a satellite would require far more lasers than could be practically built.
    I suspect these storys are planted in the media to worry unfriendly countrys, just like the star wars program that never had a chance of working or the rediculous story I saw in a newspaper a couple of years ago about missiles that can burrow into the ground and destroy a shelter 150feet down.

    I also think it's a sad reflection on the state of slashdot that this story is up to 150 comments and I'm the first to point this out. I'm going to go and bash my head on a wall unitl I come to my senses and stop even reading alterslash. [alterslash.org]
  • Movie plots (Score:3, Funny)

    by DanTheLewis (742271) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @11:55AM (#15263005) Homepage Journal
    We're slowly moving from Goldeneye, Goldfinger, and Star Wars to The Pink Panther Strikes again.

    Wake me up when we get to shark poewred lasers.

"Just the facts, Ma'am" -- Joe Friday

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