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Chinese Lasers Blind US Satelites 739

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 eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT 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.
  • by HighOrbit ( 631451 ) * on Thursday September 28, 2006 @08:43AM (#16227357)
    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 piracy or an act or war.

    And BTW, other nations including China and the Soviet Union (now Russia) have been sending spy sattelites over the US for decades without the US attacking them (although we have plans to do so in time of war).
  • 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]

  • 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]

  • 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.
  • Hey dufus, 67.2% of English speakers worldwide say that you're wrong.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:English_dialect s1997.png [wikipedia.org]

    Percentage of native English speakers worldwide by country:
    U.S. - 67.2%
    U.K. - 16.9%
    CAN - 5.8%
    AUS - 4.5%
    Other - 5.5%
    (Ironically, the source of the data is from a British Council report.)

    So even if the U.S. is the only country that uses "color," it's still by far the most common spelling. More generally, American English is, by any realistic measure, the principle dialect of the English language in use today; bitching and moaning about it won't make it any less true.
  • 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 AceCaseOR ( 594637 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:49AM (#16230581) Homepage Journal

    For some reason I remember UN Weapons Inspectors being in Iraq and actually looking for WMDs. I also remember the US government not believing their reports and pushing for war and starting a little invasion before they could even finish their inspection.
    Well, I also remember reports from the UN inspectors (from before the US invasion) that the Iraq government was pulling the same sort of shenanagans they did the last time inspectors went looking for WMDs: artificially extending the travel time for the inspectors to reach facilities, large trucks leaving the facilities just before the inspectors arrived (large enough to hide some WMDs and/or the equipment to make it.)

    If Saddam was trying to show he didn't have WMDs and that he wasn't lying, he was going a godawful job of doing it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 28, 2006 @01:24PM (#16232523)
    Some corrections: "Open seas" is international waters, which is usually the waters beyond the country's 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) and outside of any other country's EEZ. A country's EEZ is under it's jurisdiction for law enforcement, fisheries, etc while having no such control in international waters. The 12 mile limit is actually Territorial Waters and is still within the EEZ.
  • Re:Hype indeed... (Score:3, Informative)

    by cptgrudge ( 177113 ) <{cptgrudge} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:42PM (#16235317) Journal

    But that's the whole point. The USA/NATO wouldn't need to use nukes against a smaller, lesser equipped force. A large, well equipped country using nukes on a small, ill-equipped military? They wouldn't dare. That country instantly takes a major, critical, near suicidal hit to foreign relations. But, if there was a single country or group, with roughly the equivalent military might of the USA/NATO, that said one day, "Gee, we'd really like to destroy them. To War!" I'd bet that nukes would be involved at some point. The USA (or NATO) will likely never again use nukes on a country, unless that country:

    1) Has fired ICBM nukes at the USA/NATO already (and even then...) or
    2) Has the conventional military might to completely destroy the USA/NATO and has actively declared war

    Both situations are pretty unlikely anyway. Nukes would still be a "last option" sort of thing. Your original post talked about how USA/NATO forces have never really "gone up against an equally strong, technologically advanced, worthy enemy", which I agree with. But being "in trouble" if they ever had to really fight such an enemy? I don't think so. Most of the problems we've had come from smaller militaries finding ways to nullify those technological advantages. In a decades long, protracted, battle we'd deal with those adaptations much quicker, I think. Thankfully, we've never had to fight like that, because I think nukes would be used on both sides to "even things out" when it started to "go enough one way". If the forces are at that point, we're way beyond caring about civilian casualties.

    ENEMY: You're mean! We hate you! To War!
    USA/NATO: Umm, can we talk?
    ENEMY: *bomb* *attack*
    USA/NATO: No? Ok, bring it.
    USA/NATO: *bomb* *attack*

    several years later...

    ENEMY and USA/NATO: ...hmm, getting my ass kicked...
    ENEMY or USA/NATO: ...fuck it...*nuke*
    USA/NATO or ENEMY: ...SHIT...well, can't let them get the advantage...*nuke*

    several years later...

    ENEMY and USA/NATO: Can we talk? Good. 'cause we can't properly reproduce anymore. :(

  • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @04:22PM (#16236111) Journal
    The Glorious Church of the United States doesn't officially believe in asking for Armageddon to occur in our lifetimes. There are many people in the U.S. who want that, possibly including the President from the look of things, but popularity of a religious belief in a country doesn't make it a state religion.

    The United States is, despite what people say about it being a Jewish nation or a Christian nation or a Judeo-Christian nation, governed by a secular government. As a group of people with similar values living in a shared space, you might be able to say it's a religious "nation", but that religion is not endorsed officially by the government.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain