[FPSPACE] Weapons Above
thomsona at flash.net
Fri Jun 3 18:15:56 EDT 2005
> I am thrown off by the comment about spacecraft being vulnerable to
> low-tech countermeasures.
> I _think_ that what she is trying to say is that if the US develops ASATs,
> then it would be relatively easy for Russia and China to develop ASATs as
> well that place American satellites at risk.
I tend to belong to the school that thinks that those and similar countries
could place many important satellites at risk fairly easily -- if they
wanted to. <Dr. Strangelove> "It requires only Ze Vill!" </Dr. Strangelove>
And some money, of course.
I also believe that such countries are already sufficiently
ASAT-incentivized (as opposed to "motivated," which is subjective) by the
dependency of today's US military on space for its power that a US ASAT
would add little further incentive. Except, perhaps, as a
> If that is indeed what she means, then I'd quibble with it. At the risk
> of starting a great argument, I will argue that developing ASAT weapons is
> NOT as easy as a lot of people have claimed. A lot of people have claimed
> that any Tom, Dick or Kim Jong Il could easily lob a Scud into space with
> a bag of sand that would wipe out a US satellite. Indeed, they have been
> arguing this for 15-20 years or so.
Again, I belong to the "they could do it if they wanted to" club. Low-tech
direct-ascent ASATs against LEO spysats, for example, really shouldn't be
much harder than Scuds. They might not have a big single-shot probability
of kill, but Scuds are cheap. Some laser approaches and such are probably
not out of reach for the Dear Leader either, should he be interested.
> To which the most pointed reply is: "If it is so darned easy, then how
> come they haven't done it yet?" Where are the Iranian, North Korean, or
> Chinese ASATs if this is so easy?
Maybe they don't want to, or have other priorities? Where are the Chinese
ballistic missile early warning and space surveillance systems? Where is
the Soviet version of NAVSPASUR? There is a variety of such questions about
things that you'd think should logically exist, but don't.
One thing that I continue to think would be worthwhile to provide insight
into the "How easy, really, are ASATs?" question is a serious "red team"
approach. I.e., commission some smart engineers to come up with a
primitive-but-effective ASAT or three and see how they do.
It is possible that the US has set up an activity that could do that,
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