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Space Technology

China Tests Anti-Satellite Laser Weapon 552

schnippy writes "U.S. intelligence agencies believe that China has successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon by destroying one of their old weather satellites. The test, if confirmed, would be an order of magnitude more provocative than earlier reports of Chinese blinding lasers being. Arms Control Wonk has a good writeup on what this will mean for U.S. policy."
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China Tests Anti-Satellite Laser Weapon

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  • LASER weapon? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hasmael (993654) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:32AM (#17661650)
    From TFA: " ...weather satellite target with a kinetic kill vehicle launched on board a ballistic missile"

    That doesn't sound like a LASER weapon.

  • not a laser (Score:5, Informative)

    by kae_verens (523642) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:33AM (#17661660) Homepage
    from the article: "destroying an aging Chinese weather satellite target with a kinetic kill vehicle launched on board a ballistic missile."

    Lasers are not kinetic weapons. They are light-based.

    The topic-writer appears to have been confused by the article mentioning that an earlier test used a laser to temporarily brighten a satellite.
  • by Alphager (957739) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:36AM (#17661710) Homepage Journal
    Nope, they destroyed an outdated, no longer used _CHINESE_ weather satelite.
  • Interesting timing (Score:2, Informative)

    by blowdart (31458) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @09:06AM (#17662002) Homepage
    As Northrop Grumman has just opened a factory [informationweek.com] for high energy laser weapons in Redondo Beach, California. Admittedly they're aiming to shoot down ballistic missles and systems to protect buildings and areas.
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @09:20AM (#17662146)
    I note that China has invaded fewer countries in the last 50 years than the USA has ... so what is the answer to the question ?

    I see you're from the UK. It figures. In the last 50 years, the US has invaded
    Grenada - don't see anyone but Cuba and some Grenadian commies sorry about that one
    Kuwait and Iraq in Gulf War I - nobody sorry about that one either except some now dead or imprisoned Iraqi government officials
    Iraq in Gulf War II - well, nobody seems happy with that, so I understand complaints here.
    South Korea and Vietnam don't count as it's really a stretch to call those "invasions".

    China invaded Tibet. I think a whole lot of Tibetan people aren't real happy with how that one turned out. I think a whole lot of people in Taiwan are hoping that they aren't next on the list.

    Yes Gulf War II was a big disaster. However, if the situation ever stabilizes the Iraqis will have a chance to guide their own lives. China's policy in Tibet is to weaken the local populice by flooding the area with Han Chinese immigrants. I suspect that most Tibetans would like to control their own future if possible but at this point they'd be glad to just not watch as their culture is destroyed in front of their eyes. I don't see that kind of cultural assassination going on in Iraq.
  • by David_Shultz (750615) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @09:43AM (#17662414)
    Just what the world needs...
    ...another cold war.

    you can thank the USA for that.

    the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a conservative think tank whose members include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz (among other prominent republicans) places among its goals, the proposal to "control the new "international commons" of space and "cyberspace" and pave the way for the creation of a new military service -- U.S. Space Forces -- with the mission of space control." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_A merican_Century [wikipedia.org]

    Of course, we're talking about military control and that means in large part getting the upper hand in terms of information (WWII was won because of information). Hence the US fascination with spy satellites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacrosse_(satellite) [wikipedia.org]; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zirconic [wikipedia.org]; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samos_(satellite) [wikipedia.org]; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasar_(satellite) [wikipedia.org]; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vela_(satellite) [wikipedia.org].

    and let's not forget the National Missile Defense program, which will cost 53b US from the years 2005 to 2009 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weaponization_of_spac e [wikipedia.org]).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @10:08AM (#17662700)
    Only on slashdot would such bigotry be rewarded with a rating of Insightful.

    • Censorship - The US government has not censored games.
    • Censorship - Flag burning was not made illegal and is considered a protected form of free speech.
    • Censorship - Monitoring citizens... unlike most countries in the world, citizenship in the US can be obtained rather easily (there are ways of getting it besides Jus Sanguinis)... thus some of the enemies of the United States are technically "citizens"... The best way for the US to combat this would be to make obtaining citizenship far more difficult
    • Product Safety - SUVs actually have a comparable safety record to normal automobiles
    • Product Safety - It's not the land of lawsuits due to unsafe products. The problem is too many lazy people who believe that they are simply owed other people's money.
    • Military Issues - It's not the wars the US starts that are the problem. It's the methodology they are executed in. Unfortunately, the US fights political wars rather than fighting to win. If the US ever had a commander-in-chief who was more concerned with actually succeeding rather than just trying to save face in the international community, no one would be laughing then
    • Global Warming - I disagree with your unstated premise that Global Warming is being caused by human activity, but let's look at what you mean... Pollution. Of course the Western world has created the bulk of the pollution. The western world has historically created the bulk of goods, services, and technological advancement. That's like comparing the pollution levels of a tractor-trailer truck and a personal automobile. Yeah... the tractor-trailer truck may be putting out far more pollution, but it's hauling a disproportionately larger amount of cargo than a personal auto.
    • Global Warming - Energy prices will dictate when people begin to trade their SUV for a bike. The higher energy prices go, more people will trade over (assuming that's an option for them depending on distances they live from work/school/etc).
    • Forcing Their Government What To Do - Not yet the 51st state... <evil_laugh>bwahahahahahahahahah</evil_laugh>
  • by cmat (152027) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @10:43AM (#17663260)
    You mean not as many of "our" people are people are getting killed. If you look up a bit on the Cold War of the 80's, you'll see alot of policy of supporting fighting in other countries and many many people dying elsewhere. Hardly "fun" for those involved directly.
  • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @10:44AM (#17663278) Homepage Journal
    I'm surprised the news had time to cover it after all the sordid details of the US's chum Israel attempting to wipe Palestine off the map.

    What's not surprising, however, is the fact that almost nobody knows what Palestine really is [wikipedia.org].

  • by teh kurisu (701097) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:30AM (#17663948) Homepage

    The simple fact is, the US policy is not about a hegemony, nor is it about denying anyone else access.

    That's exactly what the policy is about. From the BBC [bbc.co.uk]:

    "The United States will preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space... and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests."

    Translation: we reserve the right to put weapons in space, and we will deny you the right to do so. Good on China for creating an intelligent solution! Hope they patented it.

  • by sunwukong (412560) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:52AM (#17664252)
    Second Yugoslavia [wikipedia.org]:

    Bosnia and Herzegovina [slashdot.org] -- Bosniaks, Serbs & Croats
    Croatia [slashdot.org] -- Croats & Serbs
    Republic of Macedonia [slashdot.org] -- Macedonians, Albanians & Turks
    Montenegro [slashdot.org] -- Montenegrins, Serbs, Bosniaks & Albanians
    Serbia [slashdot.org] -- Serbs
    Slovenia [slashdot.org] -- Slovenians

    Plus there are a couple of territories agitating for full independence from Serbia:
    Kosovo and Metohija [slashdot.org] -- Albanians & Serbs
    Vojvodina [slashdot.org] -- Serbs & Hungarians

    On the religion divide:
    Bosniaks [wikipedia.org] -- mostly Muslim (Sunni and some Sufi) and Agnostic/Atheist
    Serbs [wikipedia.org] -- mostly Orthodox Christian
    Croats [wikipedia.org] -- mostly Roman Catholic
  • Lasers? (Score:3, Informative)

    by PeterChenoweth (603694) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:12PM (#17664588)
    I know this is Slashdot, but did anyone read the article? There is no mention that this is a laser based system at all. To quote, "destroying an aging Chinese weather satellite target with a kinetic kill vehicle launched on board a ballistic missile." That's not a laser, that's a high speed rocket launced from a larger missile. This isn't some laser based ground weapon, it sounds quite similar to the system that the U.S. has that is almost deployed for attempting to knock down ICBM's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-ballistic_missil e [wikipedia.org] , just applied to taking out a satellite instead of an incomming missile.
  • by oni (41625) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:27PM (#17665910) Homepage
    "The United States will preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space... and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests."

    Translation: we reserve the right to put weapons in space, and we will deny you the right to do so. Good on China for creating an intelligent solution! Hope they patented it.


    No, your translation is still wrong and still shows your bias. Use the analogy of the UK and its access to the sea.

    "We the UK will preserve our right to access the sea, and we will deny our adversaries capabilities that are hostile to us or designed to prevent us from accessing the sea"

    Can you see what that means? Is the UK saying that France can't build fishing boats or even its own Navy? No! Of course not! And since I used the UK as an example and you (presumably) don't hate the UK, you are able to be reasonable and see what that statement means. It's really very simple. Access to the sea is important to the UK and they are damn-well going to defend their access to it. They are not going to let France blockade the English channel.

    The USA says the exact same thing about space. Access to space is important to the US. They are going to defend that access. They are not going to allow China to deny them access to space.

    Are they saying that China can't launch satellites? Are they saying that the US "owns" space? No, they aren't. It's only your bias that makes you read it that way.
  • by Cigarra (652458) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:43PM (#17666194)
    "Israel hasn't attempted to wipe Palestine off the map. They even gave away some of their territory (which did nothing to improve the situation)."


    Excuse me: which world do you live in, sir? Israel seized Palestine Territories 40 YEARS AGO, and it is -literally- wiping them out since then.

  • by Vaystrem (761) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:46PM (#17666250)
    Seriously - did anyone even read the story?

    "U. S. intelligence agencies believe China performed a successful anti-satellite (asat) weapons test at more than 500 mi. altitude Jan. 11 destroying an aging Chinese weather satellite target with a kinetic kill vehicle launched on board a ballistic missile."

    The only time a laser is mentioned in the entire article is

    "Neither the Office of the U. S. Secretary of Defense nor Air Force Space Command would comment on the attack, which followed by several months the alleged illumination of a U. S. military spacecraft by a Chinese ground based laser."

    So the only laser involved here is one that is capable of illuminating, target painting, targets - not destroying them. The title is more than a little misleading - can we get an adjustment on it perhaps? Something like "Chinese successfully test anti-satellite weapon"?

  • by Cigarra (652458) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:57PM (#17666460)
    OMG sorry to tell you, but they've been HIDING THINGS FROM YOU:

    USA has also invaded
    • 1954 - Guatemala
    • 1958 - Lebanon
    • 1960's Vietnam (OMG you didn't know THAT?!?)
    • 1965 - Dominican Republic
    • 1969-1975 - Cambodia
    • 1989 - Panama
    • 1994,2004 - Haiti
    • 2001 - Afghanistan

    Need more info? Wanna know how many people was killed in each one of these adventures? Just ask.-
  • by Epicanthics (837303) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:16PM (#17668056)
    Tibet was formally incorporated into what can be considered imperial China during the Qing dynasty. FF about three hundred or so years, and a fledgling Chinese republic at the helm of a certain warlord named Yuan Shikai is struggling to win international recognition. Yuan signs Tibet as an autonomous territory away in a deal with the UK, who wanted a buffer zone for their India. This is the most recent, and only manifestation of official national independance for Tibet since perhaps the Ming dynasty. The problem is that Yuan's little treaty never even made an appearance in the actual Chinese legislature, and his own legitimacy as head of state was more than questionable. The fact that the man was ousted sometime later and generally agreed upon to be an illegitimate usurper of the early republic by both the nationalists and the communists calls the legitimacy of Tibet's move into de jure independence into question. The story's not nearly as simple as the Tibetan lobby and their groupies claim to be.
  • by hotdiggitydawg (881316) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:46PM (#17668692)

    You're a moron.
     
    We never said that we'd wipe them off the map. In fact we don't want to destroy them at all. They are part of our territory. Why would we nuke part of our territory?
     
    You can stay deluded if you'd like, but maybe you'd like to absorb a dose of reality.
     
    Why this is modded insightful is beyond me. This is the reason why China needs such tests, because the Americans are threatening us.
    I'm presuming you're Chinese because you (a) use the term "we", and (b) despite your grammatical grasp of English being far better than most Slashdotters, you still failed to grasp the contextual meaning completely.

    "wipe them off the map" was in this case analogous to "attack and defeat soundly" rather than "destroy completely". And as for other responses, I agree that the US has in fact attacked/invaded many more countries than China in recent years (Ie,. it is WORSE). That does not absolve China in any way, however.
  • by anothy (83176) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:00PM (#17670302) Homepage
    Tibet has been part of China before the independence of the US.
    this phrasing is interesting. the verb tense used implies a continuous, unbroken state of Tibet being part of China; this is entirely false. Tibet and China have gone through numerous different types of relationships, including some which are frequently pointed to as placing Tibet in a role subservient to China, but those are interpretations, not acknowledged states. i know of no documentation identifying Tibet as part of China, prior to their most recent invasion, from anyone except the Chinese government (or proxies).

    in addition, the most relevant state is Tibet's state at the time of China's invasion, which is nearly uniformly (again, from anyone but China) acknowledged to be that of an independent state from the surrender of the Chinese forces there to the Tibetan authorities in 1912. even if we grant that Tibet was part of China (ignoring for a moment the questionable definition of "China" as a historically linear, coherent entity), that no more makes it justifiably part of China today than saying it's part of Mongolia (it was, after all, ruled by the Mongols at one point - like about a third of the world) or saying America is rightfully the property of the British.
  • by anothy (83176) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @06:28PM (#17672168) Homepage
    see, from your tone, this reads like you're trying to make a point by use of sarcasm. i think what you're arguing is that the aggression of some of Israel's neighbors justifies Israel's invasion and occupation of some of their lands. you also seem to think that this is clearly justified, once put in a clear manner.

    you're wrong.

    modern Israel exists because we (the west, collectively, and Britain, specifically) carved out some land for them to sit on, taking it away from the then-current occupants. the fact that the Jews had a kingdom there centuries ago is irrelevant to that fact. this puts Israel at something of a moral and political disadvantage, right off the bat.
    Israel currently occupies land taken during multiple conflicts, at least one of which Israel clearly started. any state's moral position is shot to hell when they begin engaging in "preemptive strikes".
    even if the situation was as you seem to want to portray it - poor innocent Israel, beset upon all sides by those who seek to destroy it - it's highly questionable that occupying the other country's land is justified. certainly, it's beyond the scope of what's recognized by international law for dealing with those sorts of situations.
    that last point is especially true when Israel has such a hideous record of abusing the human rights of the people in the land they've occupied. they're not engaged in a military campaign against foreign invaders, they're engaged in soft-core genocide.
  • by demachina (71715) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @07:29PM (#17673204)
    "How dare a nation annex land belonging to foreign invaders "

    I think you gloss over the fact that a large percentage of Israel's Jewish population hails from other places, Europe and Russia in particular. Their return Palestine started in the early 20th century when their was an organized effort, under the term Zionism, to buy land in Palestine and immigrate there with the ultimate goal of returning Palestine to being a Jewish nation.

    With the end of World War II there was an "invasion" of sorts when large numbers of Jews illegally landed in Palestine, formed armed insurgent groups that would probably be referred to as "terrorist" if they you used the same standard we apply to similar Palestinian groups today, and started pushing hard against the Arabs that had lived there for centuries.

    The problem with Israel/Palestine is it depends on what time frame you choose to look at for you to establish who the place belongs to. There are millions of Arabs living in squalid refugee camps, who still have keys to the homes they were driven out of decades ago. These are people who are living as stateless persons in the occupied territories or neighboring Arab countries who might be of the opinion that they were invaded and that their nation was "obliterated" by what is now Israel.

    All I ask is you try not to oversimplify the situation there and pretend like Israel Jews are the only party who has been wronged or threatened in the region. All sides there have suffered great injustice at various times.
  • Re:short term (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @07:41PM (#17673392)
    While I do agree on your points about the current government and what constitutes a country, "China" is derived from the Qin ("Chin") Dynasty name for the country. This was over 2000 years ago when all the kingdom was first unified and a single official written language was established.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:22PM (#17673956)
    He means that they could stop investing *in* the dollar on the open currency market to prop up its value. Right now the only reason the dollar remains strong year over year is that China buys incredible amounts of our currency to keep supply low and the value of the dollar high.

    If China was to divest itself, the global economy as we know it would collapse.

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