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Space United States

US Military Plans Space Combat 650

MacDork writes "Wired news is reporting that the US Air Force has documented its plans to shoot down "commercial spacecraft, neutral countries' launching pads -- even weather satellites" should the need arise. From potential Chinese militarization of space to commercial spy satellites their reasoning seems obvious, but there are just as obvious consequences of such actions. Just glancing at the PDF, I don't see any plans for the aftermath..."
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US Military Plans Space Combat

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  • Aftermath (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:09PM (#10415964)
    Neither don't I. Just like I doesn't see any plans for editors to ever edit a retarded submission.
  • Problems? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LegoEvan ( 772742 )
    The problem with space combat is many fold a) You piss tons of people off. b) You open the opportunity for others to blow up your satellites. c) You have missiles in space. Come on now, I thought that finished up a while ago. d) It's expensive! e) I'd rather the military jam the communication signals from spy satellites than start launching rockets
    • by Necrobruiser ( 611198 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:57PM (#10416290)
      You forgot the biggest problem with space combat: getting the sound of a near miss of a laser to travel through space.
    • Re:Problems? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @07:12PM (#10416412) Journal
      Huh? War sucks. But if you find yourself in one, you'd better be prepared to win it by any means possible.

      I see no problem planning for stuff - it would be irresponsible to stick your head in the sand and not prepare for new potential battle venues.

      • I see no problem planning for stuff - it would be irresponsible to stick your head in the sand

        The problem is the word "plan". To a civilian, plan implies intent, saying "I plan to do..." is the same as saying "I intend to do...". The average Slashbot reading this interprets it as "the US government intends to shoot down everyone elses satellites".

        But to the military, a plan is just that, a plan. The general staff spends its time thinking of hypothetical scenarios, writing down what they think should be
    • Re:Problems? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by andy1307 ( 656570 )
      a) You piss tons of people off.

      And the problem with that is? Seriously...Most of the world envies US economic and military might. You can either be strong or popular.

      Besides, if it can be done, someone will do it..think stem cell research..Just because the religious right in the US is oppossed to stem cell research, it doesn't mean stem cell research won't happen in other countries.

  • Nah. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:10PM (#10415975)
    By international consent, space is demilitarized (at least until the pod people attack us, or whatever). I doubt the US can afford breaking any more treaties.
    • Re:Nah. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:30PM (#10416099)
      I doubt the US can afford breaking any more treaties.

      Look, I wish you were right. But, there was the guy who said:

      A lie repeated seven times becomes truth

      And another who said:

      A death is tragedy, a million statistics

      They were both assholes, but they were right in those remarks. That's what make them scary. The biggest asshole of them all, to return in-topic, is the one who (wisely?) said:

      Treaties are pieces of paper

      The USSR isn't there any more to deter the US, so the US can do pretty much what they want. (If English had the same distinction as German, I would say können, and not dürfen.)

      • Re:Nah. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RWerp ( 798951 )
        The USSR isn't there any more to deter the US, so the US can do pretty much what they want.

        That's why we need common European defense and common European foreign policy, both funded at levels comparable with the US.
        • Re:Nah. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by iocat ( 572367 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @07:12PM (#10416417) Homepage Journal
          OMG, you almost made me spit take my coffee.

          I don't know which is funnier, the notion that Europe would ever fund defense at US levels (with the resultant sacrfices required by the welfare stare), the notion that Europe would ever be able to do anything but what it's done since the end of WWII (namely: kow-tow to whoever has the guns, be it the US, USSR, or now, increasingly, Muslim extremists), or the notion that somehow a united, militarized Europe would actually threaten the US, or be seen as threatening by the US.

          Given the US's perfect 5 and 0 record against European adversaries (Revolution, War of 1812, Spanish-American War, WWI and WWII), and the fact that European cultures would likely have to fight in the same kind of culturally sensitive way that the US does (and our recent adversaries have not -- eg using human shields, not wearing uniforms, crashing civilian planes into sky-scrapers, etc.), I think a US v. Europe conflict would be over very quickly.

          I understand this is going to quickly get modded -1000 Anti European, but common. Realisticly, Europe does not have the political will to ever stand up to the US in any significant way.

          • Re:Nah. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by RWerp ( 798951 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @08:10PM (#10416753)
            I don't know which is funnier, the notion that Europe would ever fund defense at US levels (with the resultant sacrfices required by the welfare stare)

            According to US military [defenselink.mil], some European countries spend nearly the same amount of GDP on defense as the USA. On the average, EU would have to spend additional 2.5% of GDP on defense, to match the USA. Now, according to Goethe Institut [goethe.de], EU spent on average in 1999 around 28% of GDP on welfare. Moving 2.5% from welfare to defense would be a noticeable, but not drastic policy shift. The reason why Europe is so drastically outperformed by the USA in terms of military capabilities is that European armies are mostly (UK is an exception --- not surprising, since it is shielded by sea) cold-war style, prepared to fight a large scale land war against the Russian invasion. Such armies are useless in today's combat fields, be it Kosovo, Afghanistan or Iraq. USA did not have to pay this 'Russian tax', being separated by an ocean. You could develop a more mobile army (leaving aside technological superiority). Given some time, Europe will remodel its armies, abolish the draft entirely and increase the spending. Creating an common foreign policy will give the incentive to do this, and creating a common army will give the economies of scale.

            the notion that Europe would ever be able to do anything but what it's done since the end of WWII (namely: kow-tow to whoever has the guns, be it the US, USSR, or now, increasingly, Muslim extremists)

            The USA could well afford to be more rash with the USSR, being shielded by an arsenal of nukes and an ocean. Europe has its problems with sending soldiers abroad (again: abolishing the draft will lessen them), but we were not afraid to send soldiers to Afghanistan. Some EU countries fight in Iraq (UK, Poland, Netherlands) and their experiences (if we still have the UK in the EU in the future) will add to EU military capabilities. The fact that other countries opposed war with Iraq does not mean that they do not fight terrorists. They simple were sane enough to notice that there were no terrorists in Iraq before the war.

            the notion that somehow a united, militarized Europe would actually threaten the US, or be seen as threatening by the US.

            The EU is not going to wage a war against the USA. It is only going to be taken more seriously by the USA, seriously enough to able to say 'we don't like your blowing up satellites in the sky' and be taken into account by the USA.
            • Re:Nah. (Score:4, Informative)

              by Dalcius ( 587481 ) <chrism3413+slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Saturday October 02, 2004 @10:23PM (#10417348)
              "...European armies are mostly ... cold-war style, prepared to fight a large scale land war against the Russian invasion. USA did not have to pay this 'Russian tax', being separated by an ocean."

              Actually the main thrust of our R&D during the cold war was towards defeating the Russians on open ground in large scale battles in Europe. The Apache attack helicopter is a good example; it was intended to fly around and mask behind trees and destroy large numbers of Russian tanks on the open grounds of Eastern Europe. A number of our other vehicles were the same way.

              Recall that the US has a handful of military bases in Europe and had great interest in stopping any Russian advance. The US army structure was very much devoted to fighting a cold-war type war.

              No beef with your post, just wanted to point that out. :)

              Cheers
              • Re:Nah. (Score:5, Insightful)

                by fucksl4shd0t ( 630000 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @11:00PM (#10417474) Homepage Journal

                And the missing link? Since both of your posts are spot on, but they've both left out the missing link.

                The missing link is that because we're separated by two oceans from any potential front with the USSR, we had to develop a mobile military. We paid the same USSR tax in military strength as the EU, in fact it could be said we paid much more than they, considering how much of their defense in the event of Soviet invasion would have been fought by American forces stationed in Europe. In any case, both continents were developing military to fight the same enemy from their bases, it's just that our base didn't have any hostile countries advanced enough to fight us while the European continent is shared by our former mutual adversary.

                Come on, I know you guys have played enough Civilization to grok this pretty easily. First you hope you're on an island big enough to support 4-6 cities. If so, then you destroy any civilizations that might be there. When that's done, you build a mobile military. Your navy is more important than your ground forces. OTOH, if you're on a large continent with multiple civilizations you have to build land-based military, and when it's time to build navy you frequently have to build the cities first, and then build them up. Starting off landlocked is the worst way to start, obviously the US has an advantage in that respect.

            • Re:Nah. (Score:5, Interesting)

              by MadMorf ( 118601 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @11:18PM (#10417531) Homepage Journal
              USA did not have to pay this 'Russian tax', being separated by an ocean. You could develop a more mobile army (leaving aside technological superiority).

              I'm not disagreeing with the overall gist of your post.

              I was in the USAF for 8 years, and I would argue that our (US) military became more mobile and hi-tech precisely BECAUSE of our committment to the defense of Europe from the (potential, if not actual) Soviet threat.

              1.) Despite the fact that we had a number of heavy divisions garrisoned in Europe, the bulk of our manpower was still in the Continental US and required heavy airlift capability to mobilize in a timely manner. The ability to project our combat power to anyplace in the World on short notice was driven by the need to counter the Soviets and their proxies.

              2.) We developed hi-tech precision munitions to even the odds against superior numbers of Warsaw Pact forces in the event of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. One account I have read estimated 20 Warsaw Pact divisions versus 8 NATO divisions. Even taking into account that NATO divisions tended to be larger than WP divisions, (IIRC, NATO divisions were 15K to 20K troops and WP divisions were generally about 12K troops) that's a 3:2 ratio of Warsaw Pact troops to NATO troops.
              Our hi-tech weapons (M-1 tanks, Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, TOW and Hellfire missiles, MLRS artillery, Patriot SAMs, AWACS, J-Stars, Aegis guided missile cruisers, GPS, precision guided munitions) were all in response to the Soviet threat.
          • Re:Nah. (Score:3, Insightful)

            I wouldn't call your record in the War of 1812 spotless. You could argue that you didn't lose it, but you didn't come close to winning it.
          • Re:Nah. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by khallow ( 566160 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @08:18PM (#10416797)
            Given the US's perfect 5 and 0 record against European adversaries (Revolution, War of 1812, Spanish-American War, WWI and WWII), and the fact that European cultures would likely have to fight in the same kind of culturally sensitive way that the US does (and our recent adversaries have not -- eg using human shields, not wearing uniforms, crashing civilian planes into sky-scrapers, etc.), I think a US v. Europe conflict would be over very quickly.

            A couple of corrections. The War of 1812 wasn't a true US victory. The US fought hard and had a number of significant victories, but at the end of the war, Great Britian had successfully invaded Washington DC and more relevantly was in the process of invading New Orleans. Andrew Jackson's victory wasn't the end of the story there. A key reason the UK stopped was because they had tremendous debts from the Napoleanic wars.

            Second, in the wars where the US fought significant European forces (ie, only the two World Wars), the US had great support from European allies. For example, we didn't enter the First World War until very late when Germany was almost exhausted anyway. In the Second World War, the USSR did the lion's share of the fighting and dying and the UK was totally committed. Even though most countries were under German control, there were still significant numbers of Europeans from these countries (particularly, Norway and France) fighting in the allied side. And of course, a lot of troops from the Commonwealth were involved (eg, Canada, India, South Africa, and Australia).

            It's extremely doubtful that the US would get support from Europeans in a war with the EU. I certainly wouldn't write Europe off so easily.

    • Re:Nah. (Score:5, Informative)

      by ShieldWolf ( 20476 ) <jeffrankine@nOsPam.netscape.net> on Saturday October 02, 2004 @07:00PM (#10416315)
      You are incorrect.

      The 1967 Outer Space Treaty only restricts the use or deployment of WEAPONS of MASS DESTRUCTION (more info here [ucsusa.org]) in space. Conventional warfare is not restricted. What has kept everyone from weaponizing space is:

      a) It is expensive
      b) Soldiers, Ports, Airstrips and Radar stations are not found there
      c) The first nation to do it will be universally despised
      d) It is expensive

      Now however there are enough 'assets' in space that the US is beginning to fret that a space Pearl Harbour is a distinct possibility because of the military's (over) reliance on GPS and other satellite-based communication. Therefore the costs, both economic and political, are becoming less important to military thinkers.

    • Re:Nah. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by irokitt ( 663593 ) <archimandrites-iaur.yahoo@com> on Saturday October 02, 2004 @07:19PM (#10416476)
      Space is not demilitarized, both the Soviet Union and America have posessed weapons designed for space in addition to military satellites (including the beloved GPS), and there are no treaties concerning anti-satellite warfare.

      During the Cold War, F-15 fighters recieved the capability to take out low-orbit satellites via the ASAT [af.mil] missile, a capability they still posess. The USSR had satellite "bombs" designed to take out low-orbit satellites via EMP (there has been speculation that they could take out medium-orbiting objects as well, but we really don't know). With the demise of the USSR and the collapse of their military, Russia has been willing to sell almost anything, and it wouldn't be a stretch to find China, North Korea, Libya, or Iran with weapons based on Soviet designs. Note that higher orbital objects were immune from these approaches.

      There are no treaties concerning the destruction of satellites, although there was one for ballistic missiles; America withdrew in 2002, using a procedure outlined in the treaty which required six months of notice. Incidentally, the ABM treaty allowed the US and USSR to deploy weapons around capital cities. America chose not to, while Moscow is still protected by anti-ballistic missiles [wonderland.org.nz]. Moscow once expressed interest in a anti-satellite weapons treaty, as did various groups of scientists in the US, but no such treaty was ever signed.
  • by DigitalRaptor ( 815681 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:11PM (#10415978) Homepage
    Space junk will be the least of our worries if we make it a habit of shooting down everyone elses technology from space.

    I swear, especially under this new administration, America has taken on the roll of big brother / playground bully to a degree I'm not comfortable with.

    Yes we need to be afraid of attack. Yes we need to protect ourselves. No that doesn't mean we have exclusive rights to space.

    If we start shooting down China et al's space technology, the next target will be painted on our foreheads, and every other soveriegn country on earth will have their fingers on the trigger.
    • I agree. Isn't it true other countries cannot take pictures of other countries (like the US), according to the US, but it's fine and dandy for the US to take spy pictures of others?

      Do unto others as you would others unto to you (Or something like that)

    • Exactly. All this will really accomplish is to royally piss off every other country and spark a new arms race.
    • by jdhutchins ( 559010 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:15PM (#10416012)
      Just becuase we have the ability to do it, doesn't mean we'll use it. We have hundreds of nuclear missiles in the ground all across the west, but we don't use them. That doesn't mean we should get a rid of them. It's better to be able to do this kind of stuff and not use it than to need it but not have it. And besides, we've worked on this in the past, it's not like this is a new idea.
      • What about others? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by QBasicer ( 781745 )
        Why did the US go to war? Because Iraq was thought to have weapons of mass destruction... What are in those silos? Weapons of mass destruction.
      • oh, right. mutually assured destruction made people feel awfully safe

        get rid of the nukes and retared solutions such as mutually assured destruction are no longer needed. fancy that
      • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:38PM (#10416152)
        "We have hundreds of nuclear missiles in the ground all across the west, but we don't use them."

        They *are* used; as weapons of terror.

        The atmosphere of terror created by threat of their use is their actual value.

    • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:22PM (#10416053)
      This is war planning. There are schools for thinking up plans incase something happens. For the vast majority of the plans, even if the conflict comes, they are not used.

      I get Air and Space Power Journal and I can tell you that war planning for space has been a staple of the US/NATO and Soviet planning for decades.
    • WRONG. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:27PM (#10416075) Homepage
      the next target will be painted on our foreheads

      That space is reserved for the mark of the beast.
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:34PM (#10416120)
      Look, we have a military to defend ourselves. We use it for other things as well, and that you can critique a particular administration on, but our military in general is around for defense. Well a large part of that is contingency planning, playing what if games so you've got some plans if one actually happens. You do not want something to happen and everyone to go "Hmmmm, we didn't think about this, we're not sure what to do."

      War in space is becomming a possibility, thus our military needs to plan for it. Doesn't mean we are going to go randomly shooting at other satalites, just that we'll be ready should the shooting start. We don't want our military planners to stick their heads in the sand and go "We'll just hope it doesn't happen."

      It's the same thing as our nuclear contingencies. No sane human wants nuclear war, however that doesn't mean we should just pretend the possibility doesn't exist. Our military has plans as to what to do in the event of one, and the plans are different for different types. Hopefully, they'll be be nothing more than hypothetical documents, but I'd rather we have a plan than just pretend like it can't happen.

      This is the same thing. RTFA. The Air Force is NOT saying "let's just start shotting down satalites for fun." They are saying "In the event of a war, where satalites could be used against us, let's have a plan to eliminate them." This is no different than other nations working on ways to jam/counter GPS, and working on their own navigation networks as to not need to rely on the US for it. It's not that they want to fight the US or destroy GPS, but if push came to shove, they want to have some contengiency plans.

      Please, RTFA and get a little perspective. Our military plans for just about everything all the time. We even have plans in the event of a war with our allies. It's pretty much unthinkable, but again, better to have a plan. Having a plan doesn't mean using that plan.

      I have a plan for what I'd do in the event of a home invasion, fire, etc, etc. Doesn't mean I jsut go around randomly implementing the plans. I just think things through so that if something dangerous happens, I can just follow my plan (which Ithought of while I was calm and rational) rather than run around and panic and try to come up with something (when I'm excited and alarmist).
      • by DigitalRaptor ( 815681 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:52PM (#10416259) Homepage
        What does this administration have to do with it?

        Everything.

        The message this administration sends to the world is "We'll decide what's best for the world, we'll decide who we do and don't invade, we'll decide whether it's right for you to have nuclear weapons (which we have in unfathonable amounts), we'll decide whether it's right for you to have long range weapons capabilities (again, we have more than anyone), etc etc etc".

        We want the entire planet to play with a different set of rules than we play with, and do it with a smile on their faces. And if they don't, they'll be next (once we get out of Iraq in 2037).

        The entire Cold War took place because 2 super powers had plans. Neither side acted on them, but they had them, and it turned into one big pissin' match.

        The more we try to keep the battlefield uneven in the world, the worse this will become. Space is no exception. And this administration is worse than any other in this regard. Just ask anyone besides Tony Blair.
    • by flacco ( 324089 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:56PM (#10416288)
      If we start shooting down China et al's space technology, the next target will be painted on our foreheads

      HA! *my* forehead slopes sharply back away from my brow!

      take THAT, commies!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:11PM (#10415979)
    Fear will keep the local systems in line, fear of this battle station.
  • English. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jonas the Bold ( 701271 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:11PM (#10415982)
    "I don't any plans for the aftermath..."

    And I don't any verb.
  • by Triumph The Insult C ( 586706 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:11PM (#10415983) Homepage Journal
    sounds familiar

    i guess dubya is consistent in some things ..
  • If war ever break in space, we'll definitely nail ourselves down on this planet.

    Any belt of space debris would make it difficult to eventually leave orbit.
    • If a real war ever breaks out in space, confining ourselves to the surface of the Earth would probably be the least of our concerns. Just *surviving* on that surface would likely be difficult enough.

      What's that saying about World War IV being fought with sticks and stones...

  • zerg (Score:4, Funny)

    by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:14PM (#10416006) Homepage
    Only someone who truly hates America would ever have written this:
    I don't any plans for the aftermath...
    Isn't it obvious? Once we liberate all the Chinese satellites, China and space will welcome us w/ singing and dancing and rose petals.

    I personally like the "Fire high-powered laser beams from Earth to redirect objects so they will burn up in earth's atmosphere" option because it means less stuff we have to attach to our spacecraft plus if Aliens invade, we'll at least have something to use against them...
  • by Foggiano ( 722250 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:14PM (#10416008)
    The Commandant to the graduating class of the military academy that Bart and Lisa joined:

    The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.
  • Ridiculous (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dotwaffle ( 610149 )
    I find this notion preposterous - the US has a massive number of satellites for the purposes of espionage, and general usage that they are trying to prevent other countries from doing. Lead by example, not hypocrisy. If I was the leader of a country that had a satellite shot down, or the head of a corporation that had their spacecraft blown up if it was entering US airspace (and by this, I mean under 100km) and had submitted a suitable may-day, then I would be looking for retribution. The same goes for Nucl
    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:46PM (#10416208) Journal
      Lead by example, not hypocrisy.

      "Hypocracy" means saying one thing and doing another. Using it as a label is a sign of weak thinking.

      So, tell me: When did the US Military tell people that nobody should think about how to take down satellites?

      If you can't answer that... and you can't... it is not hypocracy. It may be other things but that isn't it.
  • Aftermath? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by general_re ( 8883 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:15PM (#10416013) Homepage
    "The aftermath" is, rightly, not the purview of the military. The job of the military is to break shit and kill people - "the aftermath" is someone else's domain, reserved for "after" the fighting is all over. Reducing space junk and eliminating enemy satellites are mutually exclusive propositions, so you might as well choose which you want more, because you can't have both.
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:16PM (#10416017)
    In case you hadn't noticed, the US is far more open to low cost (how much do twenty box cutters cost?) and low tech ("just teach me how to point this thing down") attacks.

    This is just another transfer of Federal tax dollars to Boeing and TRW with no real defense benefit.

    • Why don't we spend this money on making sure another American doesn't kill me? I'm sure the odds of that happening are thousands of times greaterthan anyone outside of the country.
  • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:18PM (#10416027)
    With Bush giving Kerry a hard time for his "Global Test" [go.com] remark, it seems clear that the US is taking a more aggressive stance militarily. The cold war is over and there really isn't anyone who can threaten us except with terrorism or nuclear missles (China, India, Pakistan, and certain EU states).

    What we're seeing is an administration who's willing to do whatever it takes to advance its goals. Personally, I find that chilling. As Machiavelli said, it is better to be feared than loved, but it is worse to be hated. I worry that our current policies are moving America towards a position where it is universally hated by the rest of the world.
    • The cold war is over and there really isn't anyone who can threaten us except with terrorism or nuclear missles (China, India, Pakistan, and certain EU states).

      In the waning years of the cold war, the Russians found that the whole "turn the world into nuclear ash" idea was becoming a tad expensive.

      They still wanted powerful weapons as a deterrent to a first strike, and they wanted those weapons to be cheap.

      They ended up building one of the scariest biological weapons programs this planet has eve

  • by Fiz Ocelot ( 642698 ) <baelzharon.gmail@com> on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:19PM (#10416033)
    What amazes me is how it seems like space junk does not cause as many problems as it sounds like it should. What kind of problem could this pose for commercial space tourism?

    And if more commercial space programs go into production, it seems like the debris field will grow very rapidly.

  • by Slinky Saves the Wor ( 759676 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:20PM (#10416041) Homepage

    So... if this is put the other way around, it goes like this: China can decide that they must keep their perceived "space superiority" and exercise their "freedom to attack" in space. China will want to kill the devices which aid the adversary, and then they'll go and blast five US satellites and a shuttle (with crew inside) to pieces in orbit.

    I think that would be totally unacceptable.

    That's why I also think it would be totally unacceptable for the US to think of doing similar things at all.

    Like it says in the article, in a modern world, an orbital war would leave the world deaf and blind. We rely too much on satellites for communication, remote sensing, surveillance, everything. Only fools would play with such a risk.

    • We rely too much on satellites for communication, remote sensing, surveillance, everything. Only fools would play with such a risk.

      Fortunately the people who are currently in charge and most likely to be re-elected are completely balanced, non-reactionary and rational folk.

  • Typical Stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inKubus ( 199753 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:20PM (#10416042) Homepage Journal
    I'd say the Air Force has thousands of plans for all kinds of different contingencies. This is just another needle in the haystack. War in the modern age is based on information more than pure might, and the side with the control of the information will win.

    That said, I think that releasing this information to the public may cause tension polically between us and other countries. Everyone already knew it, but you just don't talk about some things. I'm sure there's plans to nuke children in Africa, for instance, but you don't talk about that because it's better for everyone if we don't have to think about such possibilities...

    An interesting thing also, is that our society is quite vulnerable to attacks such as these. Imagine the damage high-altitude air burst EMP weapons could do to our digital economy. Everything from money to the title of your home is based on the old ones and zeros now which tend to be a little more fragile than paper and ink..

    There are downsides to technology and it's really imperative that everyone tries to get along in this day and age or we risk going back to the turn of the century in a few hours.

    What with the new laws in place now, even a few whackos in the upper echelons of the government could give orders and literally turn off the world in a few minutes and all military electronics are typically protected from EMP, whereas your average consumer stuff ISN'T.

    And of course there are already contingencies in place if such a thing happens.

    Interesting side note, I was reading on one of those crazy whacko conspiracy sites about something called "TACMARS", which are basically tactical markings on signs and stuff that you wouldn't normally notice but could be used by people to organize movements in the absence of sophisiticated computerized mapping and logistics systems. They mentioned something about those bright reflective tags you sometimes see on the backs of road signs, and how you'd use a quadrant system (left corner, right corner, etc.) to make a code which gives someone directions covertly. Interesting ideas, even if it's nutty. Do a search sometime.

    Anyway, the point is, we live in a very fragile age, and the people we (Americans) pay to worry about such things do.

    Whether they are bad or good of course depends on how you vote next month ;)
    • by Solder Fumes ( 797270 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @08:37PM (#10416898)
      Interesting side note, I was reading on one of those crazy whacko conspiracy sites about something called "TACMARS", which are basically tactical markings on signs and stuff that you wouldn't normally notice but could be used by people to organize movements in the absence of sophisiticated computerized mapping and logistics systems. They mentioned something about those bright reflective tags you sometimes see on the backs of road signs, and how you'd use a quadrant system (left corner, right corner, etc.) to make a code which gives someone directions covertly. Interesting ideas, even if it's nutty.

      Hello, they're road signs. What about the information on the front of them?
  • by AnwerB ( 255422 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:20PM (#10416043)
    I wish they would spend just 10% of the time and money that spend on making a better war machine into making sure that they don't have to use it.

    This is just my perception, but it seems we spend hundreds of billions for solving a problem that could have been avoided with a few billion dollars and a little diplomacy.

    For example, with the Iraqi mess going on right now, it seems that we could just have let the Iraqis overthrow Saddam when they tried dozens of times. A lot of times, all it would have required was for the CIA to just not tip him off. Even when he officially became bad (after Kuwait), there were several opportunities to remove the embargo and help the Iraqis to revolt, but we vetoed every time the UN suggested it. I don't want to go too far into this, because then it would be off-topic...

  • Aftermath? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:21PM (#10416048)
    Once a situation arises that requires this type of action, the aftermath isn't quite the most pressing problem. This is for if a hostile government or a hostile group has taken control of launch pads or satellites to install their weaponry or spy systems, and the US is at war or cold war with them. That situation would be so rare and so dangerous that we really shouldn't be worrying about the political and biological aftermath, let alone the resulting space junk -- if we ever have to use such a plan, the damage from the whole war will be so terrible that we probably won't be going back to space for a long while.

    Michael Crichton's fictional account The Andromeda Strain mentions plans for nuking non-Soviet-controlled areas (even neutral cities) should they become infected by a biocontaminant from outside earth, because the worldwide threat from such a contaminant would be high, and the chance for global nuclear war is low enough (less than 50%). At that point, the danger of nuclear war is less than the danger of the contaminant surviving and spreading.

    And I think most people don't realize that the US has plans for just about everything - they had recently released (under the FOIA) plans for invading Canada. We'll probably never go to war against Canada in at least the next 200 years, but I'm glad we're prepared in case something should go terribly wrong. We probably have to have plans to defeat every country (including a secession of US states) and almost every hostile structure of weapons, etc., if the need ever arises. This is only a small part of that. And I'd guess they also have separate plans for dealing with any severe political aftermath.
  • You are not allowed to do this [unvienna.org] But since Bush thinks the UN is worthless, the rules fly out the window and the shit hits the fan. And people say Iraq didn't have international consequences.
    • by eSims ( 723865 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:47PM (#10416213) Homepage
      Here goes my Karma...

      Before Slashdot goes off half cocked (what? to late?) realize that this is a plan... if...

      That's what the US military does best... generate reems of useless paperwork full of plans so that if the need arises.

      Would you have them ill prepared? You DO have a DR plan for those mission critical servers, right!?! Same thing... dig through the military archives of pointless studies and you will find alot of plans just in case something goes awry.

      Now... IF the US starts shooting down satelites on a regular basis then feel free to Flame On!

      My $.02 (not adjusted for inflation).

      JKS
    • by general_re ( 8883 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:51PM (#10416247) Homepage
      You are not allowed to do this

      That treaty doesn't say any such thing. You are apparently referring to Article IV without having bothered to read it. Allow me to post it in its entirety:

      States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner.


      The moon and other celestial bodies shall be used by all States Parties to the Treaty exclusively for peaceful purposes. The establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies shall be forbidden. The use of military personnel for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes shall not be prohibited. The use of any equipment or facility necessary for peaceful exploration of the moon and other celestial bodies shall also not be prohibited.

      Kindly note that there is no prohibition on non-nuclear, non-WMD anti-satellite weapons being used in orbit. Further note that "orbit" is not a "celestial body", and therefore not covered by the second paragraph.

      But hey, you got to take an obligatory swipe at the current administration, and you got modded all to hell by a bunch of people who didn't read your link either, so it's all good, right?

    • Oh, yeah, that's a really binding treaty, with significant powers of enforcement behind it:

      Any State Party to the Treaty may give notice of its withdrawal from the Treaty one year after its entry into force by written notification to the Depositary Governments. Such withdrawal shall take effect one year from the date of receipt of this notification.

      This is really nothing new. The USAF had an anti-satellite missile program [af.mil] decades ago, a two-stage rocket launched from an F-15 at high-altitude. There wa

    • by Homology ( 639438 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:59PM (#10416306)
      You are not allowed to [unvienna.org] do this But since Bush thinks the UN is worthless, the rules fly out the window and the shit hits the fan. And people say Iraq didn't have international consequences.

      The same goes for the Geneva Convention, and US strong opposition to the International Criminal Court. In Bush & Co.: War Crimes and Cover-Up [zmag.org] we have

      But evidence of war crimes by the Bush administration - notably Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush - continues to emerge. And in spite of Bush's renunciation of the International Criminal Court, many people around the world are clamoring for Bush and his deputies to be held accountable. In the words of Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman: "It is one thing to protect the armed forces from politicized justice; quite another, to make it a haven for suspected war criminals."
  • Once ze rockets are up
    who cares where zey come down?
    That's not my department
    says Wernher von Braun
  • Oh Great... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:32PM (#10416108) Homepage Journal
    ``should the need arise''

    You mean, if Bush accuses them of having WMD?

    Sow more hatred, harvest more pain. Piss off everybody, and gee, there are terrorists attacking you. Who would have thought? Good we spent those billions building our super hyper space defense system rather than improving quality of life!

    What's that you say? They're using low-tech weapons that we cannot detect? We must have stronger security checks, fuck civil rights and liberties!

    And the maddening thing is, voters actually support all this...
  • by SendBot ( 29932 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:37PM (#10416141) Homepage Journal
    I found this in a link from the "consequences" link in the story.

    A shuttle windsield impacted by a paint chip at 3 to 6km/sec
    http://www.aero.org/cords/debrisks.html [aero.org]
  • by fitten ( 521191 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:38PM (#10416146)
    US Air Force has documented its plans to shoot down "commercial spacecraft, neutral countries' launching pads -- even weather satellites" should the need arise.

    News must be very slow lately... seems like all these places are just stating some obvious stuff in order to fill up their pages or put something with today's date on it.

    Of *course* the US Air Force have has these plans for a long time now. Why in the world would this be something just now "found out"? Is this supposed to be some new scuttlebutt just "unearthed" (pardon the pun)? Is there anyone out there who *didn't* think the USAF had these type plans for decades now?
  • Weather sats? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by danharan ( 714822 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:40PM (#10416158) Journal
    Both Republicans and Democrats, if given the opportunity to target certain assets will do so- even if only by mistake.

    What will be the long term consequences, for example if you down a weather sat? Well, for many countries that depend in large part on agriculture for both survival and balance of trade, not having a reliable weather info could be catastrophic. Besides the loss of human life, is it too outlandish to think that a bunch of people that have had their standard of living suddenly diminished could blame the US?

    <background>
    Clinton had a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan bombed to the ground on suspicion of producing WMDs. It was a mistake they later apologized for.

    Consequences? A lot of people without access to cheap anti-malaria drugs and affordable veterinary drugs. In other words, a lot of people die, although not right away or in a "sexy" way for western media. I'm afraid people won't get the point of how dangerous it is to disable key infrastructure like weather sats or pharm plants.
    </background>

    An other near-term consequence of this will be to piss off some Canadian moderates that are uneasy with the idea of supporting the US on ballistic missile defense (another component of space weaponization).
  • Way to go... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tit0.c ( 245434 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:43PM (#10416176)
    When did the US buy space? I must have missed the news...

    Then americans wonder why most of the world is so pissed off at you as to be willing to crash a couple of planes in to some towers.

    If the U.S government doesn`t start realizing that the world (and space now) is not their personal playground ,9/11 is gonna look very small compared to what might come next.
  • Consequences? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:43PM (#10416178)
    (The link leads to a page about space junk)

    If we're ever at a point where we're shooting down Chinese satellites, I think that "space junk" will be the least of our concerns.
  • by cyclone96 ( 129449 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:44PM (#10416187)
    The Air Force has messing with this stuff for quite some time.

    In 1959, they launched a missile [csd.uwo.ca] nicknamed "King Lofus IV" from a B-58 as an early test of satellite intercept using Explorer V as a target...the test was a miserable failure.

    They were more successful in 1985, with a successful intercept and kinetic kill of a satellite with an F-15 launched ASAT prototype [designation-systems.net]. The program was terminated in 1988.
  • by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet.got@net> on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:51PM (#10416244) Journal
    This incessant need that humanity has to pave over one another of our race, in the dominant ideology, needs to come to a crashing halt (before the crashing really begins to occur over our heads and ultimately comes falling down upon said heads.)

    There is obviously a need to set minimum operational standards for societies around the world, the failure of which to meet, inducing global sanctions and a loss of global participation. That said, we need to have room for a diverse and broad expression of human thinking, perspective, and culture. It's inside of that diversity, that the flexibility of our race shows up. Our ability to address change and challenge is a direct reflexion of the breadth of our thinking and our ability to imagine possible solutions.

    The society we now live in, in the United States, is becoming dangerously dogmatic, and our arrogance is leading us to choices which will have terrible reprecussions for our children and our children's children. We need to find a better way to interact with people than blasting and bludgeoning them. Even in our greatness, we can be destroyed by our ignorance and hubris. Creating a safe world for all children will take a far site more than turning LEO into an mine field.

    Genda
  • by Marcus Erroneous ( 11660 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @06:56PM (#10416285) Homepage
    Obviously this will lead to a need for personal protection for the individual in the street. Might I suggest an Open Source designed Kevlar umbrella? Already an accepted accessory common to many, it will not only protect your clothing from common rain, but provide limited protection from less common forms of falling detrious. The perfect gift for that hard-to-shop-for individual in your life.
  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @07:12PM (#10416405) Journal
    Firstly, I fully agree with those who note that these are so called contingency plans. It would be incompetent for the US military not to have them. Every nation of a suitable size (and above all, budget) has contingency plans. China, Russia, the UK, France, India, Pakistan... They all have plans about what to do when the shit hits the fan.

    However, and this is the sticking point, the comment in the article about the consequences of the US building a large anti-satellite and possible space-earth bombarment weaponry is that the mere existence of such weaponry forces potential targeted nations to respond with their own ability to target US satellities, and this is precisely what China is doing.

    With the demise of the USSR there was only the USA left in terms of superpowers, and the USA hasn't exactly been humble about using that power of late, and the potential danger that the US would strike at Chinese or European satellites will force those countries to look for ways of defending their property in space.

    While I doubt that the EU will ever have enough of a budget or the will to build a defense against the US, I am positively certain that China has both the will and the budget to do so.

    China also has one big advantage on its side and that is time. The Chinese are under no pressure to match the USA today, since they will not risk going to war with the USA right now, but they have the time to develop a large arsenal of space weapons and deploy it over time without the huge seesaw problem of US budgets going up and down depending on who is in power.

    Most likely I think the Chinese are aiming for a long term matching of US military capability, in the region of 20 to 40 years from now, and the chances are that they will achieve it too, simply because they have, due to an authoritarian system, the ability to focus on long term projects that the US doesn't.

    I think that eventually, towards the middle of this century, the Chinese will probably have the role of second superpower that the USSR used to have.
  • Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Saturday October 02, 2004 @07:48PM (#10416646) Homepage Journal
    First off, I am not a hawk, and I think that warfare should only be used as a last resort. However, I am not some sort of peacnik idealist that thinks love solves every problem. The unfortunate truth is there are some people that need to be made dead to make the world a better place.

    I think it's great that the military is writing documents like this. Sure, there is a treaty in place to keep space de-militarized. But, I pay taxes to have the military keep me safe. It they aren't trying to think of ways to keep me safe from every concieveable eventuality, I'd be pretty annoyed. The only thing I find suprising is that this paper wasn't dated 1957. I'm sure as soon as NASA figured out that we can shoot monkeys in space, the air force was working on ways to keep us safe from Russian space monkeys.

    Just because people are thinking about solutions to potential problems doesn't mean we are planning on conquering space in the name of Emperor Dubyah. This article strikes me as a bit reactionist and alarming. To the thinkers in the military who spent time to start working out solutions to potential problems before they are occuring: Good work guys, thanks.

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