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Chinese Lasers Blind US Satelites 739

Posted by kdawson
from the do-not-look-directly-into-laser-beam-with-your-remaining-eye dept.
SniperClops writes, "China has fired high-power lasers at U.S. spy satellites flying over its territory in what experts see as a test of Chinese ability to blind the spacecraft, according to sources." The article mentions the reluctance of the U.S. administration to talk about this "asymmetric" effort by the Chinese military.
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Chinese Lasers Blind US Satelites

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  • by xming (133344) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:12AM (#16226989) Homepage
    I got "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."
    • by paranode (671698) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:46AM (#16228293)
      The blurb says that they did blind the US satellite, whereas the article says they merely attempted to and that "It remains unclear how many times the ground-based laser was tested against U.S. spacecraft or whether it was successful." Good old hype.
      • Hype indeed... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Savage-Rabbit (308260)
        The blurb says that they did blind the US satellite, whereas the article says they merely attempted to and that "It remains unclear how many times the ground-based laser was tested against U.S. spacecraft or whether it was successful." Good old hype.

        A lot of modern western military tactical thinking revolves around spy satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, UAVs (most of them remote controlled or semi autonomous at best) as well as battlefield information exchange and coordination netw
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          As a Serb, I must tell You that You are giving our forces too much credit. They managed to survive, that is true, but when the bombing shifted to strategic targets, there was not much they could do about it (without blowing their covers). If the war continued they could had been a nuisance to NATO, but best they could do in the end would had been to put a high price on our skin. The surrender ("truce") came when, allegedly, Ahtisaari, accompanied with Chernomirdin delivered the message that in next phase th
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by HiThere (15173) *
            He wasn't describing relative power. NATO had so many more troops than the Serbs did that it could probably have won if it had armed the troops with willow switches. He was describing tactical brilliance. Don't put yourself down. Being assaulted by someone five times out of your weight class means that if he can get hold of you, skill won't help. It doesn't imply lack of skill.
    • by einnar2000 (985070) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:40AM (#16229303)
      The problem wasn't in building a laser that could reach orbit. The problem was in teaching the sharks to look up.
  • Seeing Red (Score:3, Funny)

    by axonis (640949) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:13AM (#16227009)
    I bet the lasers are red in colour ;)
    • ...that you'll just be hungry again in an hour.

      Thank you, I'll be here all night.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      The world's supply of blue lasers are all going into the PS3.
  • by Tsagadai (922574) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:14AM (#16227019) Journal
    As does alot of the world not in the united states but still grounded under it's definition of right and wrong is why can't a foreign self governing nation control its own airspace and space space. If I built a spy satellite and orbitted it over the united states I would be a terrorist and bombed in seconds. Why the difference for china?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mattgoldey (753976)
      Because it's DIFFERENT when we do it! Right?

      We can have nukes, but North Korea and Iran can't.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by donscarletti (569232)

        Yeah, but Iran and North Korea are run in the wrong way. Iran for instance has organised religion controlling politics and North Korea is run by the spoiled, incompetant son of a former President.

        But seriously, no matter how much I might bag out America on /. it IS different, there are worse Presidents than Bush on this earth, worse regiemes than the Republican party and I think the Iranian theocracy who puts a cleric in charge of the country and the DPRK's isolationism which is so feeble that the country

      • by LittleBigLui (304739) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:43AM (#16227365) Homepage Journal
        [The USA] can have nukes, but North Korea and Iran can't.


        A theocracy that needs nukes certainly has a faith problem. (Not to mention that whole witches in ponds handing out swords thing.)
        • by mikep.maine (585648) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:07AM (#16227685) Homepage
          I am not a fan of nuclear weapons anywhere, but this is a dangerous world with people who *literally* want to send us to hell or to see our redeemer. They will buy and use nukes -- and Iran and Korea are all too willing to give or sell them away. In the business where others are willing to kill us, I want to be working to disarm them, period. The United States has few options -- and both the Europeans and Asian nations that are not China have largely stayed out of fray hoping once again to let teh US carry the burden of disarming. A united front would really sincerely help the world. It would even help the Iranians and Koreans who as a people would rather plan crops than seed nuclear bombs.
      • by miyako (632510) <miyakoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:11AM (#16227749) Homepage Journal
        Nukes aren't really ok for anybody to have, but being that the cat is out of the bag, the only reason it is ok is because of the whole MAD thing. Of course, mutually assured destruction is only a deterrent if the other guy cares about being blown up.
        I can't say much for North Korea's mindset (maybe they are just their own special brand of insane?) but for the militant islamist countries, they would certainly prefer everyone dead over both they and the "infidels" being alive.
      • by Cheapy (809643) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:41AM (#16229323)
        Unlike other countires, our stated agenda isn't to wipe countries off the map.

        That's just a side effect of our agenda.
    • by joe 155 (937621) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:19AM (#16227087) Journal
      partly I agree, but how far up does China own the space above it? If Mars is over the UK at the moment does the Queen own that too? At what point does it stop belonging to the earth and start belonging to everyone/everything in the universe? What if these satelites were above that point?
      • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:44AM (#16227381) Journal
        It surely may sound ironic in the case of China, but : a sovereign nation has a right to privacy.
        • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:05AM (#16228619) Journal

          It surely may sound ironic in the case of China, but : a sovereign nation has a right to privacy.

          I'll remember that the next time they try to steal nuclear technology from us.

        • by WhiplashII (542766) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:07AM (#16228655) Homepage Journal
          So, what about listening to messages transmitted in China from a listening post in the US? Are you saying that we have to not listen? Or do they have the right to bomb us if we listen?

          International law (you know, the thing that applies to the US but no one else) says that a nation owns only 100 miles up, and beyond that they can lay no claims. So, if this is to be believed, a the Chinese military just attacked the US military while the US military was in international waters. That is an act of war. If the US acknowleges it, we have to acknowlege it as an act of war.

          My guess is that this was some Chinese general stroking his manhood, and that the US is going to use back channels to force China to remove that general. Better than admitting that we are at war with one of our largest trading partners...
          • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:40AM (#16230405) Journal
            So, what about listening to messages transmitted in China from a listening post in the US? Are you saying that we have to not listen? Or do they have the right to bomb us if we listen?

            While a common practice, spying of another country is a gray zone. A caught spy is usually condemned by the spyied country unless he/she has a diplomatic status.

            International law (you know, the thing that applies to the US but no one else) says that a nation owns only 100 miles up, and beyond that they can lay no claims. So, if this is to be believed, a the Chinese military just attacked the US military while the US military was in international waters. That is an act of war. If the US acknowleges it, we have to acknowlege it as an act of war.

            The same treaty makes space a military-free zone. So tell me, what was a US milmitary item doing in orbit ?
            I don't like the chinese govt and such news give me a cold feeling in the back but I would consider that, regarding current laws and treaties, it is only fair game. They treat the spy satelite more gently than a spy : they didn't destroyed, didn't ask for it to be removed, they just blinded it temporarily.
      • by Flying pig (925874) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:47AM (#16227413)
        A spy satellite is a near object, Mars isn't. A spy satellite was made by someone on Earth for the exact purpose of invading the privacy of someone else on Earth not subject to the same laws as the manufacturer, and it seems to me that the someone else has the right to disable it with proportionate force at the time when it is trying to invade their privacy. Mars is not a human manufactured object...

        Of course, reading my own definition, this would justify Afghans and Iraqis seeking to expel the Americans and the British, just as it justified the French Resistance in WW2, and the American Colonists in the 1770s.

        At what point is the present US administration going to face up the fact that it is the self-appointed global hegemon and that five and a half billion people disagree with that?

        • by HighOrbit (631451) * on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:20AM (#16227893)
          it seems to me that the someone else has the right to disable it with proportionate force at the time when it is trying to invade their privacy

          So does this mean that the US has the right to disable Chinese "fishing" vessels outside the 12 mile limit on the open seas if the "fishing" vessels are covered with anttenae? No, because that would be an act of war or piracy because nations have a right to sail on the open seas, just as nations have a right to have satellites in space. You are justifying a violation of treaties governing the neutrality of space.
        • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:45AM (#16230515) Homepage Journal
          China has the FSW-1 spy satellite. Pacifist Japan launched their third "intelligence gathering" satellite a few weeks ago.

          The old Soviet Union maintained heavy orbital surveillance of the US.

          This was and is a Good Thing. US scaremongers shouting "missile gap!" were overruled by satellite intelligence. Soviet paranoia was limited to what was actually going on. Arms control treaties specifically and explicitly required both sides to submit to "national technical means" of verification.

          >someone else has the right to disable it with proportionate force

          As close as the Cold War came to ultimate horror, and as much as spy satellites stabilized it, that's an idea you do not want people to adopt.

          >self-appointed global hegemon

          Spy satellites are not a reason to believe that, unless the US starts shooting down other nations's satellites while maintaining their own.

      • by phil reed (626) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:48AM (#16227431) Homepage
        but how far up does China own the space above it?

        Wikipedia article on the Outer Space Treaty [wikipedia.org]

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kfg (145172) *
          Nice treaty. Good treaty. Lie down and play dead. Good boy.

          The fact of the matter is that property is defined by the man standing on it with the biggest gun. Mars will be "free" until the very moment someone puts up a hotdog stand and the only reason people can take treaties like this seriously is because they can barely be violated, let alone enforced.

          If we go to space, we will war over its territory. And that's the way it is.

          KFG
      • by LittleBigLui (304739) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:52AM (#16227497) Homepage Journal
        What if these satelites were above that point?


        What's the problem with the chinese shining their lasers at space that nobody owns anyway?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DoofusOfDeath (636671)
          The same thing that's wrong with me launching a Mk 48 ADCAP torpedo into a shipping channel in international waters, which also is owned by nobody.
    • Which is probably why there's been no loud official condemnation. Like you say if the US was to start flying over Chinese aurspace nobody would be too surprised if they retaliated so this is just a low level tit for tat that's doing no serious harm to either side as yet.
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:21AM (#16227105) Journal
      To answer your question, RTFA:
      Pentagon officials, however, have kept quiet regarding China's efforts as part of a Bush administration policy to keep from angering Beijing, which is a leading U.S. trading partner and seen as key to dealing with onerous states like North Korea and Iran.
      That's why.

      Read the rest of it. It's an interesting article, but some of these statements come off as revenue generating news (and considering this is Defense News, it's no surprise).

      China has fired high-power lasers at U.S. spy satellites flying over its territory in what experts see as a test of Chinese ability to blind the spacecraft, according to sources.
      They forget to mention that we would probably do the same (if not worse) to deter spy satellites over our own country. They also don't address the concept of whether or not a country has a righ to its own privacy here. I think we would want privacy for our country and should not be surprised or angered to find our attempts thwarted when spying on other countries.
      Russian jamming systems are publicly known -- the Air Force destroyed such a system deployed to Iraq to keep American GPS guided bombs from finding their targets during the 2003. The site was destroyed by GPS guided bombs.
      Well, that jamming station must not have worked well and I highly doubt it was put there by the Russians. I cannot think of a clear motive for it. Probably sold as surplus or exchanged for payment by a disgruntled soldier and found its way to Iraq.

      So we'll either change our standards or give the military a special encrypted standard. The cat and mouse game will begin between the US wanting to see what China's doing and China not wanting the US to see what they're doing. Frankly, I don't really give a damn. China has some bad leaders and some severe problems but they're more internal than anything.

      You'll find at the bottom of the article:
      As for China specifically, Thompson said the country has a right to defend itself.
      That's right, they do. So this isn't really news so much as "Country X Defends Itself Against Country Y" except that Country Y is the only country that thinks it's hot shit and that the world must reveal all and revolve around Country Y. Also, our leader has stated that non-compliance means you are with the terrorists and you're against us.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by j35ter (895427)

        But the combination of China's efforts and advances in Russian satellite jamming capabilities illustrate vulnerabilities to the U.S. space network are at the core of U.S. Air Force plans to develop new space architectures and highly classified systems, according to sources.

        As a non-American, I find it problematic that a spy-satellite "attacked" in that way over a sovereign third country is seen as a vulnerability to the U.S. space network.
        This report is suggesting that the U.S. have the right to spy on

        • by roman_mir (125474)
          but it is a vulnerability to the U.S. space network. It doesn't mean more than this: the US may want to redesign their satellites to be able to somehow avoid this problem in the future.
    • It is obvious to any red-blooded, patriotic, Jesus-loving American that we are the only source of righteousness on earth and it is our God-given duty to use His power to advance our cause of spreading His holiness throughout the world and trample over the devil-worshipping heathens. Therefore, what we do is good and what all the godless nations of the world that are not America do is wrong. Thank you, and God bless.

    • by NitsujTPU (19263)
      The article said that the White House pushed the Pentagon to limit discussion of the matter to one line in their report acknowledging the capability for political reasons. It doesn't sound as if the US is deaf to the notion of China's rights in this respect.

      So, what I want to know is why you think that the US has responded in a manner that questions this right?

      Unless you're asking why the US put the satellite up there to begin with, which is simply asinine. Countries spy on each other, it's a fact of life
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I don't think China has any problem with the physical presence of the Satellites. It's the pictures that they are taking that they have the problem with. I think china has every right to do what is necessary to prevent outside nations from taking pictures of secret things that china doesn't want them taking pictures of. I think the US would probably be smart doing the same thing. Nations should be able to protect their own secrets.
    • According to the UN Treaty on Outer Space [unoosa.org] (also here [wikipedia.org] at wikipedia), of which both China and the US are signatories, "outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means". So it is not "chinese space or airspace". Attacking a satellite (or blinding it) is akin to doing the same to a ship on the open seas. It is a violation on the freedom of other nations and a violation of the neutrality of space. It's just one step short of pi
    • by vtcodger (957785) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:52AM (#16227503)
      *** If I built a spy satellite and orbitted it over the united states I would be a terrorist and bombed in seconds.***

      The Russians operated a multitude of surveillance satellites over the US in the 1960s-1980s. They still do I believe. As do the Chinese. As do, I believe, others. Almost all reconisiance sattelites should be able to "spy" on the US should their owners be so inclined.

      If anyone cares enough to try to figure out exactly how many surveillence satellites are in orbit, here's a link to the Union Of Concerned Scientists sattelite database [ucsusa.org]

    • Well, by that logic, sovereignty extends in an ever expanding projection to the end of the universe, sweeping various astronomical objects into and out of the soveriegn control of nations. Sometimes our national boundaries cross the face of Neptune at greater than the speed of light, since at a bit more than 4 billion km, that's the speed those boundaries are "moving".

      Setting aside absurd fantasies, lets ask this: how far should national bounaries extend into space, or into the core of the Earth? After
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:16AM (#16227047) Homepage Journal

    From TFA:

    acknowledges China has the ability to blind U.S. satellites, thanks to a powerful ground-based laser capable of firing a beam of light at an optical reconnaissance satellite to keep it from taking pictures as it passes overhead.

    So its a bit like saturating a camera with light so it can't take good pictures, but once it moves on it should be OK.

  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:18AM (#16227061) Journal
    For it's national defense program? The whole "do everything with lasers" mindset seems to fit.

    Where's Austin Powers when you need him?
  • by dave-tx (684169) * <df19808+slashdot&gmail,com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:19AM (#16227071)

    Well, good for them....I guess. I would imagine that the US would do the same to Chinese spy satellites (if they had any - which I don't know and don't feel like googling), so why be surprised when the Chinese do it? It seems to me that this is just a case of the Chinese government acting in the interests of it's own national security. This may be news, but it should not be surprising.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Exactly right. It's all too easy to look upon a foreign nation trying to prevent surveillance of their activities as being an aggressive act but turn those tables and ask yourself how you'd feel if US airspace was being overflown (although it probably is..) by Chinese Sats watching military bases, the Skunkworks etc. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.
      • by Control Group (105494) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:01AM (#16229663) Homepage
        The key, here, is when you say "it probably is." Not only is it "probable," it's certain. China has had the capability of launching satellites since at least 1984 (IIRC, that's the year they first put a bird in geosynch) that I know of. If they've got satellites up there, it's virtually guaranteed that some of them overfly the US, and some of those are capable of looking down. And if not China, every other space-capable nation on the planet has satellites that overfly the US.

        Yet you don't see us blinding their satellites and claiming "it's not aggressive, it's just common sense."

        Satellites, outside of a state of war, are like transoceanic cables. You're supposed to leave each other's alone because it starts a chain of retaliations that ends up with very little accomplished aside from a disastrous collapse of certain types of infrastructure.

        So yes, China going and doing this is an openly aggressive act. It's not as aggressive as cutting a cable would be, or landing soldiers in Hawaii, but don't think it's somehow innocent.
        • Yet you don't see us blinding their satellites and claiming "it's not aggressive, it's just common sense."

          I've not heard the US making those claims, but I'd be very surprised if they didn't use similar techniques (or use Free Trade agreements to negotiate no-fly no-photo zones). Do you really think the US lets anyone with a satellite photograph any old thing they like? Really? Why does Google maps/earth/etc have some US installations censored?

          What's more, why is this even news? A few days ago we had an arti
    • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:19AM (#16228875) Homepage Journal

      I would imagine that the US would do the same to Chinese spy satellites (if they had any - which I don't know and don't feel like googling)

      They do, and they pass over the US. So do Russia, India, France, Spain, the UK, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Iran, Algeria... in short, pretty much everybody (Note that I'm considering any satellites capable of earth observation as "spy satellites" -- most of them aren't intended for that purpose, but most of them can, and probably are, used for intelligence-gathering). Though the US has various anti-satellite weapons, including both lasers to blind them and experimental systems intended to destroy them, all testing of US anti-satellite weapons is done on US satellites and drones, in order to avoid provoking incidents with other nations.

      Perhaps the US should change this policy with respect to Chinese satellites? I don't think so, but I can see where others might disagree.

  • grounding all the Blackbirds and relying on Satallites was a really good one.
    To be fair though, I'm guessing there are SR-71 replacements (Aurora?) busy doing a similar job but we just don't know about it yet.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Spiked_Three (626260)
      The SRs didn't stay grounded very long. I lived near dulles airport in VA (newar DC) where they brought one out for the new air and space museum. Less than 6 months later it went back into service.

      BTW, I have been led to believe the Aurora is at least 2 generations old now :) Maybe about 3 more generations and it will be declassified like the blackbirds.
      • You're probably right about Aurora. I used to work with a guy who was an ex-boeing tech who had worked on one of their stealth efforts 15-20 years ago. He told me about some pretty crazy stuff that was supposed to exist even back then. Normally I'd have put it down to bs but he really wasn't the sort of person to invent stuff or say things for fun, quite frighteningly straight really.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Nevynxxx (932175)
          ex-boeing tech who had worked on one of their stealth efforts...he really wasn't the sort of person to invent stuff

          Is that why he was "ex"?

          I know, that is nothing like what you menat, but it made me giggle.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flooey (695860)
      To be fair though, I'm guessing there are SR-71 replacements (Aurora?) busy doing a similar job but we just don't know about it yet.

      The US launches 5-10 spy satellites a year, and they publically announce when they go up (though not what they do). Just look at something like this launch schedule [spaceflightnow.com] and look for launches with "classified spacecraft payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office".
  • TFA: "If you keep looking over the fence at you neighbor's back yard, you're going to get poked in the eye"

    I like this :-)

    Also Chinese defence program is called "Assassin's Mace".. it's straight out of a badly dubbed movie!
  • Not that I'm denying the right for the Chinese to keep their secrets safe from the NSA, CIA or whomever wants to peek at their secrets but it seems somewhat apposite that this story is posted a day after this one [slashdot.org]. In fifty years time are we going to be praising a Colonel Hong for saving the world from another imminent disaster or are we actually going to learn something this time round?
  • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:26AM (#16227159) Homepage

    Did you ever see a friggin' shark in a Google Earth picture? No?

    Now you know why.

  • by eko33 (982179)
    I bet that laser was mounted on the top of a sharks head...
  • The future of this country with ACPAC operating on Capitol Hill terrifies me.
  • Humour (Score:4, Funny)

    by tygerstripes (832644) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:32AM (#16227215)
    It's good to see a bit of humour creep into these articles:
    Russian jamming systems are publicly known -- the Air Force destroyed such a system deployed to Iraq to keep American GPS guided bombs from finding their targets during the 2003. The site was destroyed by GPS guided bombs.
  • by vtcodger (957785) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:34AM (#16227235)
    It's not too widely known, but the Russians apparently did something similar to a US IR detecting Early Warning sattelite several decades ago. That one got about a paragraph on page A-26 of a few large newspapers.

    The big deal here is that this is yet another message to the folks who want to spend hundreds of billions on satellite weapons. Put 'em up there, and someone will spend a lot less money to disable them when the need arrises.

    Space based weapons systems are not "siezing the high ground". They are more like climbing a tree with a sack full of rocks. They have some advantages, but overall against a serious opponent, they are a poor and expensive strategy.

  • by mprinkey (1434) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:40AM (#16227315)
    ...which are likely left as decoys for the other dozen or so invisible ones...the reconnaissance version of a honeypot. The US has had stealth technology for a long time...aerodynamics is what took so long to build the F117. Since aerodynamics doesn't matter in space, I think it is likely that the satellites put up in the 70s where probably stealthy. Highly directional, bursty, spread spectrum downlinks would make it very difficult to detect. Again, that's 70s-era technology.

    The $500 billion dollar annual defense budget is being spent somewhere. I would hope some of it was put into spy satellites that are awful easy to overlook.
    • by Woek (161635) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:04AM (#16227633)
      I don't think so. First of all, they have plenty of other issues to worry about when designing the exterior of a satellite, like reflective material for thermal management, or solar cells for generating power. Secondly, I would imagine that the trajectories of all satellites are available to all agencies that launch stuff into space. Imaging a soyuz crashing into one of those massive spy satellites with a relative velocity of several kilometers per second...
  • BFD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SengirV (203400) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:46AM (#16227395)
    I know this will turn into an anti-American thread, but what is the big deal? This was a dance the US and USSR carried on for decades. If anything, it will now force the US scientists back to the drawn table to come up with a different solution to accomplish the same thing.

    If anything, your reaction to this story should tell you where you stand with respect to the US.

    More power to China, I know this will force the US to improve/upgrade it's space efforts. And that, to me, is a good thing.
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:51AM (#16227481)
    OK, we've heard from the report that the Chinese have tried to blind a satellite. Until we can actually see the resulting images - which will simply never happen, how can we or the chinese know that they've succeeded in stopping photos being taken.

    If I was in the US spying game and I know that someone was trying to blind my satellites, I'd say "Oh no, you've stopped me photographing your secret installations" even if the attempts were unsuccessful. That way the target thinks they've stopped the spy satellites, whereas in practice, the lasers may be completely ineffectual.

    Until the Chinese spies can get hold of genuine, spoiled, satellite photos (that weren't staged/planted) they cannot be sure they have suceeded.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cananian (73735)
      This is elementary spy stuff. You want to do something the US won't like. So try out your laser on the satellite to conceal yourself while doing it. There will be some bluffing involved, but over time it will become clear whether the laser works: either because it is actually effective, or because the US so wants you to believe so that it will let you get away with anything you do while the laser is turned on. Either way, it allows you to do things you otherwise wouldn't.
  • by refriedchicken (961967) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @09:40AM (#16228203)
    So, I am suggesting that our next spy sat to go over China be nothing but a mirror. See what they think of that laser then.
  • Play misty for me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @01:12PM (#16232275)
    Pentagon officials, however, have kept quiet regarding China's efforts as part of a Bush administration policy to keep from angering Beijing,...
    Yeah, right. Spies keep quiet, because well, spies keep quiet. No matter what you say, you let the other side know something about the specifications of your hardware. These satellites are designed to survive nearby nuclear blasts or accidentally being pointed at the Sun. I imagine that the most any ground based laser would do is cause it to momentarily shutdown, then reactivate once the big light has gone away. Now, if the Chinese were to blast it with another satellite based laser, they could poke holes in the thing, *that* would be a problem.

    I'm sure the Chinese government realizes that spy satellites that you know about are a stablizing influence. Things, like nukes, are destablizing. Bring on the satellites. (as per Arthur C. Clarke)
  • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @02:25PM (#16233725) Journal
    Currently being played at the NRO's offices: "She blinded me with science!"

"Though a program be but three lines long, someday it will have to be maintained." -- The Tao of Programming

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