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.