Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shooting Down a Satellite

Apparently one of our old satellites is about to drop down into the atmosphere, and so to protect our interests (and our people?) the US Government as decided that the best thing to do is shoot this thing down with a $10M missile.

My first reaction to this news is surprise that we have the accuracy to hit a satellite with a missile. Apparently there is a "10 second window" that they will have to make the right shot.

My next reaction is wonder. If a satellite falling to the earth is dangerous as debris, what happens if we miss the satellite? Then the missile gets detonated high above and the satellite falls? Can the missile miss and hit something else? Is the satellite debris dangerous too?

My final reaction is cynical. Are we really doing this to protect our secrets and prevent damage, or are we just doing this for posturing and to show off to the rest of the world that we can shoot down satellites because we're the USA. On the one hand this seems like an expensive way to do this. On the other, it's pretty cheap compared to starting a war.

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