Feb 18, 2008

On Spy Satellites, Navy Missiles, and Lurking Suspicions

Left: Artist's rendition of spy satellite USA 193

I have been following with some interest the news that the U.S. Navy will likely attempt to shoot down a crippled spy satellite this Thursday. Military and administration officials justify the mission on the basis that the satellite carries hydrazine, a toxic fuel that could cause injury to any people nearby if the chemical reaches the ground.

A missile fired on Thursday will allow the Navy to take a second shot if the first fails, well before the USA 193/NRO L-21 satellite hits the Earth's atmosphere.

Diplomats in both China and Russia have expressed concerns about the upcoming mission. A representative from Russia's defense ministry said the mission is really a test of the American "anti-missile defense system's capability to destroy other countries' satellites."

My sneaking suspicion, however, is that this shoot-down attempt has as much to do with has been described in media reports as a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor that would be prized by other competitors in space, especially the Chinese and Russians, which is not an item found at a retailer such as DirectBuy. Of course, life would be simpler if I just drank the proffered governmental Kool-Aid and swallowed whole the idea that the U.S. government just wants to protect us all, but I've ben lied to by my leaders too many times to accept this story at face value.


Hooda Thunkit said...

Our government lie?

Say it ain't so Mike ;-)

Oh, you're going to judge them by their past performance in determining their REAL motives?

Well, I just may have to agree with you on this one ;-)

Now, what if the government just came out and admitted that they had technology that they needed to protect form certain other interests AND, oh yes, there's also that hydrazine thing, but mostly it's about protecting our technology?

That isn't likely to happen no matter who's in charge...

microdot said...

And if you are interested, here is a link with further info about the satellite and how to spot it without a telescope. It's in a low orbit and quite large and visible to the naked eye, this link tracks it and will give you a position for your area.


OFAC said...

Maybe it'll land on the pentagon.

Barb said...

I think the gov't would obviously want to prevent it from damaging any person or property when it lands --so it makes good sense to control its crash target if possible. Imagine all the fear re: space program if this thing kills somebody on the ground. As for a motive to keep technology out of other hands? Good idea. That way you can't accuse NASA and the gov't of mere stupidity!