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Space United States

The Dozen Space Weapon Myths 191

Posted by Hemos
from the look-up-project-avalon dept.
Thanks to Disowned Sky for finding a good debunking piece on space based weapon systems. Slightly disheartening, because I really want to have solar energy satellites that are also lasers. The article does a good job of looking further afield at nations besides the United States efforts in this area.
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The Dozen Space Weapon Myths

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  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <.akaimbatman. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday March 12, 2007 @10:45AM (#18317273) Homepage Journal
    Seems the author of the article reads Slashdot. Anyone remember back when the "official U.S. position on space weapons" story broke? As I recall, there was a torrent of comments (especially from those who failed to read the document) suggesting that the space policy was that only the U.S. was going to have access to space. Some even went as far as to suggest that just because it's not in the "official" document, that it was the actual policy regardless of what the public part of the document stated.

    Well, here's The Space Review's take on it:

    2. The latest United States "space policy" declares that it will "deny access to space" to those players it deems hostile, which translates to pre-emptive attack on non-US space objects and their supporting ground infrastructure.

    Western news dispatches from Moscow, reporting on Russian official complaints about the policy, stated that it asserted the right "to deny adversaries access to space for hostile purposes," and that it claimed the right (some say "tacitly") for the US to deploy weapons in space. Vitaly Davidov, deputy head of the Russian Space Agency, complained: "They [the US] want to dictate to others who is allowed to go there."

    But the actual policy document makes no such claim and displays no such intent to "deny" access. The Russian anxiety, echoed on the editorial pages and in news stories around the world, is apparently based on some over-wrought page 1 stories in US newspapers, written by people too careless to actually read the original US document and subsequent official US government clarifications, or too eager to misinterpret it in the most alarmingly stark terms.


    On another topic, the author makes a very good point about the 1967 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. i.e. The same treaty that is credited with preventing the development of the Orion nuclear pulse propulsion vehicle. As item 9 points out, the Soviets had continued nuclear space development in violation of a treaty that had been signed specifically to prevent them from doing that. The Polyus ASAT Platform [astronautix.com] that was launched on the back of the first Energia in 1987 (and thankfully failed to make orbit) was intended to have nuclear weapon capabilities. The translations of the Polyus diagrams show that it would have carried "Nuclear Space Mines" to target and destroy missiles and satellites.

    So much for that treaty. :-/
    • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Monday March 12, 2007 @10:59AM (#18317435)
      As item 9 points out, the Soviets had continued nuclear space development in violation of a treaty that had been signed specifically to prevent them from doing that.

      See, that's the beauty of nuclear weapons. Once you have them, other nations are really no longer in any position to lecture you about developing them -- unless of course they're willing to enter into nuclear war over it.
      • by cdrguru (88047) on Monday March 12, 2007 @12:01PM (#18318231) Homepage
        The problem is that both the US and Soviets had an interest in maintaining their population of workers. Starting, or even fighting a war that involved loss of 10% of the population wasn't considered to be reasonable.

        This is far, far less of a concern in other parts of the world where citizen and martyr can be used interchangably.

        A serious consideration in the US attacking civilian targets in Soviet Russia was that the civilians were not exactly taking an active part in government. Do you really think that even in the face of a nuclear attack on Israel there would be a massive US retaliation on civilian targets? Especially if the attacking force was a stateless body like Hizbollah? Further, if a post-attack retribution bill was introduced into the US Senate, would a majority vote to wipe Iran off the face of the earth? Or maybe just try to find a few important targets?

        Iran has nothing to fear from a US retalitation, and we have spent the last 20 years proving it. We either stop them on the front end, or we will do ... nothing. And they know it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by zippthorne (748122)
          We've had enough media hysteria about "nookyoolear" that we don't even build nuclear power plants anymore. I think there would be sufficient public outcry following a nuclear attack (even just a "dirty-bomb") to release the nuclear arsenal. And politicians always do whatever they think will get or maintain power. Only a few clear-thinking military officers could stand in the way.

          Which brings to mind the important question: "What should we do if attacked domestically with nuclear weapons by a non-state a
      • Don't believe bullshit "myth-busting".

        If the USA has the capability (which I'm sure they do) and the funding (debatable) then they have this stuff sitting up there. The USA has never believed in "playing fair" and will grab and hold military dominance in all spheres that it can - with or without treaties.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday March 12, 2007 @11:00AM (#18317445) Homepage Journal
      So much for that treaty. :-/

      Yeah, all of 'em.

      It seems from the story, and just pragmatism, the best option is to hope the folks who have the best weapons are the most friendly types. If the cold war is any lesson, the people with the most freedom create the best economic engine, and thus in turn the richest state, and then in turn again, the best weapons.
      • by Dr Caleb (121505)
        "If the cold war is any lesson, the people with the most freedom create the best economic engine, and thus in turn the richest state, and then in turn again, the best weapons."

        FTA:

        "Well, there's no official acknowledgement of them--that proves they exist in secret" (as if the absence of evidence were transformed into evidence of presence).

        If I recall, that the 'Russians' had weapons that weren't detectable nor acknowledged and that was the justification for many of the cold war ramp-ups in defence spending
        • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday March 12, 2007 @12:31PM (#18318709) Homepage Journal
          "Well, there's no official acknowledgement of them--that proves they exist in secret" (as if the absence of evidence were transformed into evidence of presence).

          If I recall, that the 'Russians' had weapons that weren't detectable nor acknowledged and that was the justification for many of the cold war ramp-ups in defence spending (because they must have found some way to hide them from detection). That should have been a major cold war lesson. Sucks when the same logic is applied to US anti-sat weapons.


          I'm not sure I follow your point, please elaborate. Are you arguing that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence? That's on approach guaranteed to be wrong when analyzing secret military projects.

          Or that the USSR didn't have secret programs? We found just the opposite after the USSR collapsed - they were trying to keep up with us, on the B2 and other similar programs and wound up bankrupting themselves trying to do it.

          Or that we don't have secret projects anymore?
          • by Dr Caleb (121505)
            "I'm not sure I follow your point, please elaborate."

            I'm saying that the US used the 'absence of evidence' verified 'they have something we don't know about' to justify their past military buildups, including 'Star Wars'/SDI. It is just ironic when the same logic is used on the US anti-sat program, as the article states "(as if the absence of evidence were transformed into evidence of presence)", the exact same stategy the US used against the Soviets.

            The US taught the world that strategy, I guess the lesso
      • by evilviper (135110)

        If the cold war is any lesson, the people with the most freedom create the best economic engine, and thus in turn the richest state, and then in turn again, the best weapons.

        First, that dismisses the current status of China... A huge economy, with very, very little freedom.

        Second, it doesn't account for western Europe... They have plenty of freedom, and a very strong economy, but they are so loosely organized that they couldn't, and probably still can't, pose real opposition to a single large (totalitaria

      • by asuffield (111848)

        It seems from the story, and just pragmatism, the best option is to hope the folks who have the best weapons are the most friendly types.


        We're screwed.

        If any lesson is to be learned from history, let it be this one: the most friendly types will always turn into the most unfriendly types given sufficient time. All those care-bears with nukes will eventually turn into politicians with nukes. The only question is how long we have left.
    • by notque (636838)
      The intention of weaponizing space is clear. It's an attack system, and any and all such systems should be banned, and destroyed on launch.
      • There is this persistent notion among some people that negotiation, international sanctions, and legal actions (i.e. lawsuits and the court systems) can resolve all of the worlds problems when in fact history clearly demonstrates that the opposite is the case. To be more specific, if you pass a "law" saying that all such systems are banned and that they should be "destroyed on launch" then who is going to enforce that and how? The enemies of the United States do not care about our laws and they have called
        • by j35ter (895427)

          The civilized society that we enjoy here in the west is built upon the implicit threat of violent force to back up and maintain that system.

          Not true, unless you regard the U.S. as the only civilized country in the world. The majority of "civilized" countries lead a peaceful existence *due* to the fact that they pose no threat to their neighbors. As for the U.S., you may be right, but don't forget that you are rapidly losing your economic and military supremacy which will turn your (enforced) peaceful exis

          • Not true, unless you regard the U.S. as the only civilized country in the world. The majority of "civilized" countries lead a peaceful existence *due* to the fact that they pose no threat to their neighbors.

            You are not taking a long enough view of history. It is the nature of mankind to kill his fellow man and take what belongs to his neighbor for himself by force. This is the one constant throughout all of history from the stone age right up until recent times which can be regarded as anomalous compare
    • by Rei (128717) on Monday March 12, 2007 @12:34PM (#18318771) Homepage
      I have problems with this article.

      1. To a foe, our ability, which he admits, to blind or jam satellites, might as well be the ability to destroy them. Literally destroying them is certainly worse from an environmental perspective, but tactically, blinding them is just the same in the middle of a war, and one certainly ought to expect other countries (including those with less military resources who feel threatened by the US) to attempt to gain the same tactical ability to deny satellite access.

      2. "But the actual policy document makes no such claim and displays no such intent to ?deny? access." One of many blatantly false claims in this article. I did "actually read" the policy, and it states:

      The United States considers space capabilities -- including the ground and space segments and supporting links -- vital to its national interests. Consistent with this policy, the United States will: preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space; dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so; take those actions necessary to protect its space capabilities; respond to interference; and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests

      3. Space-based weapons *do* have a major advantage over ground-based ones: there is no boost phase. They have the potential to give *much* less warning and reaction time. Consequently, they're more destabilizing. It's the same reason why short range (tactical) ballistic missiles were banned: they reached their targets too quickly. Also, is he really so daft as to believe that the Bush adminstration *hasn't* been trying to create "usable" nuclear weapons? There's a new statement from an "anonymous administration official" (and sometimes named ones) every month or so about things like nuclear bunker busters and the like.

      4. "Most discussions leave the impression the Russian system simply doesn?t exist." Undoubtedly, the author is talking about the S-400/A-135 network. It's certainly a threat to even our best warplanes (think a patriot missile battery on steroids, with a much longer testing history), but with the 100 km upper range for the biggest missile configurations (if memory serves), it's not going to be shooting down satellites, even low ones, any time soon.

      5. "Equating a boost-phase anti-missile weapon (based at sea, on an aircraft, or even in space) to an anti-satellite weapon overlooks a fundamental design difference, their guidance mode." -- Apparently this person has never heard of THAAD. Not all of our systems are boost phase.

      6. Yes, and the Istrebitel Sputnik was a response to the US's SAINT program ('60-'62). Was the SAINT program a response to anything? Not really. We discontinued it, but it was too late by then. We started it. Now, it was long enough ago that arguments about who started it are pretty moot, but still, if you want to pick hairs, like this person does...

      8. "The enormous advantage of an orbital system (even if launched only hours or days before making its attack) is that simply by selecting a larger booster, the weapon can be sent into nearly any orbit of potential interest, at any altitude" -- No, that's the advantage of a ground-based system. Having to enter orbit is an extra delay and takes extra energy. The lowest-energy, fastest way to intercept a satellite at 400km? Be below it and launch 400km straight up. Being in orbit allows for incremental homing of the killer satellite, providing a simpler, more reliable, but slower kill. And who knows what he's thinking about when he writes about changing the orbit with "the moon's gravity". If he's talking about a lunar transfer orbit, he must be ignorant of the huge amount of time and delta-V needed for such a maneuver; it'd be foolish. If he's talking about the lunar perturbations of satellites already orbitting at GEO, that takes years. I have no idea what he's thinking. Anyone have any clue?

      9. Very low o
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arivanov (12034)
        You missed 12 which is complete and utter bullshit.

        Russia is right to be pissed off with missile batteries in Europe and is rightly pointing that they have no other function but to sour Russia relationship with Europe.

        These missiles provide sabre rattling capability for some political elements in the ex-Soviet block who are anti-Russian to the point where they would like to have a Hitler statue erected on their capital's main squares. While every military specialist is aware that such missiles will be usele
        • by evilviper (135110)

          And at the end of the day, USA is still continuing their Cold War politics by inertia. They waste a phenomenal amount of resources to continue along lines that have no further meaning and use instead of even considering new threats. No wander they get their ex-best-friend to run a couple of planes into key buildings with such ease.

          Interesting you'd use this wholly self-contradictory excuse. If the US was continuing "Cold War politics" they wouldn't have shut down the strategic air defense system, which cou

    • by hey! (33014)
      Well, I'm not satisfied with the qualification "to deny adversaries access to space for hostile purposes,".

      It's too vague, and the international community has every right to be concerned about it.

      Remember, the US has an executive branch who interprets the phrase "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended" to actually mean that the government does not need to provide a writ of habeas corpus to its citizens (see Alberto Gonzales' testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jan 18, 200
  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Monday March 12, 2007 @10:48AM (#18317305) Journal

    12. Other nations are justified in building "space weapons" because the US has done so, or is about to do so.

    This argument never seems to work both ways. It always justifies any other country's space weapons, laying the blame on something the US has done, may do, is thinking about doing, or is merely accused of doing in the mass media. But it never seems to justify any US hardware-development response to actual space weapons deployed by other countries, from the cannon mounted on a Soviet manned space station, to its operational killer satellites and orbital nuclear weapon launchers, to the recent Chinese anti-satellite missile test. The US did not respond in kind to those weapons because they made no military sense--there was no mindless reflex, but instead a rational assessment of security requirements. Those assessments usually can be made regardless of the actions of other parties, especially regarding the level of required space weapons.


    Unfortunately, too many people use the "US does it" excuse to justify the nuclear proliferation of other countries (read: Iran). I feel this is an accurate counterpoint to such an argument.

    • by vertinox (846076) on Monday March 12, 2007 @11:32AM (#18317787)
      Unfortunately, too many people use the "US does it" excuse to justify the nuclear proliferation of other countries (read: Iran). I feel this is an accurate counterpoint to such an argument.

      Um... That was the whole point of MAD. If one side did it, both had to do it to ensure no one used it. It may not be moral, but it is logical to create any type of weapons in response to the fact the other side has done so.

      However, this in itself in the past was a benefit to the US because it can afford to build such technologies whereas the other sides could not afford it and simply force them into submission by outspending them. (See: Regan vs the Soviets)

      Sure, Iran could make nukes, but economically they are pointless to them other than nuclear energy since using them would entail the extermination of 90 million Iranians by a US retaliation response. Besides... The could inflict more political damage and gain so much more with using proxy groups like Hezbollah than actively taking on the US directly in a nuclear arms race.

      However, China on the other hand... Well, we are seeing for the first time in 50 years a nation that could soon simply outspend us on the military front.

      At sometime in the 2020s to 2030s it won't be us chiding others for doing things because we did them but rather trying to justify our new weapons because "China had them first."
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ArcherB (796902) *
        However, China on the other hand... Well, we are seeing for the first time in 50 years a nation that could soon simply outspend us on the military front.

        China's military budget for FY2007 is about $44.94 billion. The US military budget for FY2007 is $532.8 billion. (source [yahoo.com]) Eventually, China may outspend the US, but they need about a 1250% increase to do so.

        Um... That was the whole point of MAD. If one side did it, both had to do it to ensure no one used it. It may not be moral, but it is logical to crea
        • by vertinox (846076)
          So the threat of MAD does not apply to a country that has no fear destruction.

          I don't think you see the real point. They could only kill 10 million tops with a single hit in a single American city (unless of course they coordinated multiple attacks) and could possibly destroy Israel in a single blow or two.

          Then the retaliation would result in again... 90 million Iranians dead. Followed by complete occupation of several million US soldiers that were drafted in a war that is supported by the American public (
          • by ArcherB (796902) *
            I don't think you see the real point. They could only kill 10 million tops with a single hit in a single American city (unless of course they coordinated multiple attacks) and could possibly destroy Israel in a single blow or two.
            Israel is the target. It is unlikely they would go after the US until Israel no longer exists. Of course, they face MAD with Israel probably more than with the US, which brings me to my next point.

            Perhaps, it is really what they want, but I can't really see how it provides anyone
          • by Sique (173459)
            You seem to forget that 90 mio dead people which are dead because they are just in the wrong country might cause another 1.2 billion people to get really angry. And if you finally killed 1.2 billion people Global Warming because of CO2 will be the least of your environmental problems.

            Mr Ahmadineshad invented a new version of MAD. What ever you do, either enough of us survive and will be really fanatic, or we all are dead. Lets just hope this doesn't work out.

            PS: If suicide bombing really made military sense
      • by evilviper (135110)

        That was the whole point of MAD. If one side did it, both had to do it to ensure no one used it.

        Iran has exactly a 0% chance of ever reaching near-parity with the US, needed for MAD.

        Also, MAD went out the window with ICBMs (first-strike).

  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Monday March 12, 2007 @10:50AM (#18317323)
    No jokes about solar powered sharks with frikin' lasers in orbit.
  • by WED Fan (911325) <akahigeNO@SPAMtrashmail.net> on Monday March 12, 2007 @10:53AM (#18317367) Homepage Journal

    Overly ideal treaties, laws, bans, etc. are just bad.

    While banning the militarization of space is a nice idea, it would be nearly as difficult to implement as the demilitarization of our oceans.

    Existing treaties that are overly idealistic have had the bad side effect of limiting or halting the development of other projects (as mentioned before: Orion).

    I say, militarize, it will happen, then defend. If the U.S. and Russia were to be the only ones to abide by a non-militarization of space, eventually, the other players, India, China, and Japan, will gain the supremecy in space and eventually on the ground. Space war will be the new air war.

    • Existing treaties that are overly idealistic have had the bad side effect of limiting or halting the development of other projects (as mentioned before: Orion).


      While the nuclear test ban treaty ultimately shelved Orion, launching an Orion-type craft from Earth is still a bad idea due to the resulting nuclear fallout.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by WED Fan (911325)

        Orion would not have ultimately launched from Earth. SF (or Sci-Fi) writers in the 50's and 60's had nukular (sorry, just had to) rockets launching from Earth. Orion missions would have launched, conventionally from Earth to orbit (ferry), crew would have tansferred to the Orion vehicle and then nuke launch from space.

      • by RexRhino (769423)
        That is assuming it is using military style nuclear weapons as propulsion. It is reasonable to assume that if Orion was actually politically viable, that some sort of system with negligable contamination could be developed. However, it would illegal to even put together a think-tank to explore the possibility, even for the sake of showing how flawed it would be. That is the trouble with treaties like this.
    • by smithmc (451373) *

        Space war will be the new air war.

      You mean, as in the old joke: One Soviet tank commander runs into a fellow tanker in a cafe in Paris. As they're waiting for their tea to arrive, the one asks the other, "so by the way, who won the air war?"

      Controlling the skies is all well and good, but as the US Army is unfortunately (re-)learning right now, smart bombs and satellites can't hold ground, or win hearts and minds.

  • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Monday March 12, 2007 @10:56AM (#18317391)
    FTA:

    But since the 1985 air-launch satellite intercept, a project cancelled by Congress (see "Blunt arrows: the limited utility of ASATs", The Space Review, June 6, 2005), there is no evidence that a new satellite-killer technology has been developed

    So what? Who cares if no new ASAT technology has been developed if the old ones work just fine? The Soviet orbital ASAT program predated the US's F-15 ASAT program by over a decade, and it worked.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Erwos (553607)
      Probably because there's no working ordnance left?

      If the program got terminated in 1985, that means the weapons left from it are at least 22 years old. It strikes me that there's a fair chance that few to none of them even work any more, and that we don't have any way to produce more on a moment's notice. This exact situation is discussed in Tom Clancy's book "Red Storm Rising", in fact.

      However, there's another thing: the current US military wants weapons they can deploy as fast as possible (the TacSat prog
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        Actually I would bet that no working ASATs are left. The first stage was a SRAM. The SRAM was removed from service because of ageing problems. The solid fuel was cracking...
        Also the ASAT couldn't reach geosync so it wasn't useful for taking out most communications satellites.
      • Probably because there's no working ordnance left?

        No ASM-135s? Sure, I'll buy that.

        No Soviet killsats sitting around in storage waiting to be strapped to the top of a suitable rocket and launched into the proper orbit? That, I don't believe.

        And in any event, activating a production line to build a few missiles isn't the same thing as "developing a new technology."
  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Monday March 12, 2007 @10:56AM (#18317395)
    You don't need anything near this sophisticated. Just send up a few barrelfuls of used pinball machine parts and let orbit take care of the rest. Of course, that's assuming you don't need to use space for the 50 years or so it will take them to disintegrate either.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Why would your "few barrelfuls of used pinball machine parts" EVER disintegrate? What's magical about the 50 year mark that would cause metal parts to spontaneously fall apart? Just curious.
      • by Rycross (836649)
        He probably meant that its how long it would take their orbit to degrade to the point of re-entry.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Martin Blank (154261)
          The problem with that is that it's unrealistic. Debris from the Chinese test is expected to remain in orbit for thousands of years. Pop enough satellites in a major war, and space may truly become unusable for decades or centuries. I suspect that if it came down to it, we'd soft-kill enemy satellites. The ABL is going to be ready for use in a couple of years, and it might be suitable for taking out an enemy satellite without shattering it.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by twiddlingbits (707452)
            For the uninformed, "soft-kill" means to disable the electronics via a huge burst of radidation or heat, or to disable the solar arrays so they have no power source, or to disable communications antenna's or all of the above. Without power, electronics or comms they are just a hunk of space junk. It's a much better way than leaving lots of debris in orbit from using a kinetic kill but a kinetic kill is a lot easier and pretty much 100% successful.
          • by FleaPlus (6935)
            Debris from the Chinese test is expected to remain in orbit for thousands of years.

            Do you have a source for that claim?
            • http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn11239-roc k et-explosion-creates-dangerous-space-junk.html [newscientist.com]

              "And because the atmosphere is less dense at higher altitudes, the debris is likely to stay in space a long time because it will not be slowed down by friction with the atmosphere, which causes it to lose energy and burn up more quickly. Debris created during the Chinese test is thought to have reached lower altitudes - about 4000 km - but is expected to stay in space for hundreds of thousands of years."

              The line
              • by FleaPlus (6935)
                "And because the atmosphere is less dense at higher altitudes, the debris is likely to stay in space a long time because it will not be slowed down by friction with the atmosphere, which causes it to lose energy and burn up more quickly. Debris created during the Chinese test is thought to have reached lower altitudes - about 4000 km - but is expected to stay in space for hundreds of thousands of years."

                The line is unsourced, but IME, New Scientist is good enough with the facts to be usable.


                Eek... New Scien
  • by physicsboy500 (645835) on Monday March 12, 2007 @10:57AM (#18317413)
    There go my plans to make a life-sized replica of the Death Star!
  • by will_die (586523) on Monday March 12, 2007 @11:02AM (#18317477) Homepage
    Forget all those press stories from scientists currently around that say time travel is impossible [foxnews.com].
    We now have proof that NASA and the US Military have it.
    As clearly started in this article, from a guy in NASA, the US Military is talking about going back in time by 7+ years and put a missle defense system in Czechoslovakia.
    • by Danathar (267989)
      Yes. I hear that the contracting company who will build it also built the tsunami wave generator now operating in the Indian Ocean.
    • So Fox news are reporting time travel is impossible? They also reported Scooter Libby as not guilty.

      So does that mean that time travel is possible?

  • Item 5 is just wrong. The current weapon technology (NMD) to shoot down incoming MIRV's are designed to target the warhead after it has already past the stage of burn and been released. The key issue is determining the fake warheads from the real. In space (the target point of impact) is also the hardest to determine fake from real. The sensor packages and analysis of that data is the critical piece to making them work correctly. And heat trails is not part of that. Heat trails for targeting are only used
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2007 @11:12AM (#18317561)
    But half these myths contradict the other half.

    First, it says putting missiles in space is expensive and slow "Even planning a space-to-space attack can take hours or days or longer for the moving attacker and target to line up in a proper position."

    But wait! The Soviets "demonstrated the high reliability of the operational Soviet 'killer satellite'". Not only that, but there is an "enormous advantage" to orbital systems.

    Also "They could even use the Moon's gravity to surreptitiously slip into the high-altitude orbits of key US observation, communications, and navigation satellites." Only if the government continues to cut the junk-tracking budget, otherwise any "junk" moving strangely would be noticed pretty quickly. Also, based on the orbit of the junk that's been around since the dawn of the space program, the Moon's gravity does not cause sudden major orbital changes, and I would suspect that with no other propulsion, the Moon's gravity is not enough to prevent the orbit of a "stealth" satellite with no boosters from decaying.
    • One sentence is talking about orbital weapons for ground targets. The other is talking about orbital weapons vs. other orbital targets. Those are very different scenarios and it makes perfect sense that orbital weapons would be a poor choice for some and a good choice for others.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2007 @11:15AM (#18317601)

    References to the "latent antisatellite capability" of the embryonic US anti-missile system in Alaska are somewhat disingenuous since Russia has a deployed anti-missile system with launchers around Moscow and in Kazakhstan, with much the same capability and nobody seems to complain. Most discussions leave the impression the Russian system simply doesn't exist.

    Yes, it exists and has existed for decades, however, it was explicitely allowed under the ABM-Treaty [wikipedia.org]. The US was allowed to build such a system for North Dakota but I'm not sure if we ever followed through with that. However, a national system was what the treaty intended to prevent, which it did until we decided to withdraw from the treaty in 2002.

    • We did, in fact, build such a system [wikipedia.org]. It consisted of a bunch of nuclear-tipped SAMs, plus cueing radars, etc - 60's era technology was not sufficiently accurate to do anything but get the interceptor in the general vicinity of the incoming - hence the need for nuclear warheads. My impression is that the system wasn't considered very cost-effective.

      • My impression is that the system wasn't considered very cost-effective.

        I think the larger issue with the Sprint missile system [srmsc.org] and its bretheren were the fact that they essentially required the U.S. to cripple itself with EMP in order to stop incoming warheads. The economic damage of a single EMP event above densley populated U.S. soil would have been devastating in the 1970s, but far worse today (we have far more unshielded electronics on which everyday life depends).

        Now imagine thousands of EMP events,

  • The Cold War wrote (Score:4, Interesting)

    by theolein (316044) on Monday March 12, 2007 @11:21AM (#18317679) Journal
    They want their Soviet Union back.

    The article is part fact and part of the same kind of tit for tat idiocy that brought and perpetuated the Cold War for over 40 years. "The Americans did this", "The Russians so totally did too" kind of crap that is this article is just painful to those of us who lived through the red scare bullshit of the Cold war. Not only that but the article tries to paint Russia as still being the Soviet Union. They talk about anti ballistic missiles being based in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is and has been independent since 1991. It leases the old Soviet manned rocket launching site at Baikonur to Russia, but it, along with the Ukraine and Byelorus destroyed all of its Soviet era nukes in the 90's, and no longer hosts any strategic Russian military equipment.
    • "The Russian statements are so preposterous...The technological flaw is simple: missiles launched from Czechoslovakia, say, cannot ever hope to intercept missiles launched from Russia against America"

      The author jumps to the intercontinental missle scenario. If he bothered to look at a map he'd see that much of Russia (i.e. St Petersburg) is within range of intermediate range missles fired from European sites. With the Baltic states itching to join NATO and Poland already in the club I don't blame Russia f
  • by sean.peters (568334) on Monday March 12, 2007 @11:43AM (#18317987) Homepage

    This article is highly amateurish and just about content-free. Shorter "Space Review":

    1. Myth: The US already has satellite killers.
      The Space Review: No they don't! (no citation given)
    2. Myth: The US wants to deny space to those it considers hostile.
      TSR: No they don't! (no citation given)
    3. Myth: The US is planning to place weapons in space for the purpose of ground attack.
      TSR: No they aren't! (no citation given)
    4. Myth: The US ballistic missile defense systems have the capability to shoot down satellites.
      TSR: So what, the Russians have the same capability!
    5. Myth: Tests of space based BMD systems also are preparations for an ASAT capability.
      TSR: Let's confuse the issue by only talking about boost-phase BMD intercept!
    6. Myth: The Russians have declared a moratorium on ASAT weapons testing.
      TSR: No they haven't! (no citation given)
    7. Myth: The Russian's "killer satellite" never worked very well.
      TSR: Yes it did! (no citation given)

    I stopped reading at this point. This whole article is nothing more than a fact-free propaganda screed. I can't believe Slashdot even bothered to post it... on second thought, yes I can.

    Sean

    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      But what you didn't post was how some of the Myths also have no evidence.

      Basically the article is telling me there's no proof for either side of these claims. But it's just enough information to bring the conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork.
      • You make a good point - where do the "myths" themselves come from? Is anyone really saying this stuff, or are these just convenient strawmen for the author to knock down? Some citations on the "myths" would have come in handy too.

        Without any supporting evidence, this whole article is just some guy's opinion.

      • How are you supposed to show that there is no evidence for a myth? Its a myth because there is not evidence.

        Besides conspiracy theorists don't need evidence, they make stuff up, claim is fits their distorted view of reality and call it evidence; just check out the Electric Universe or Moon Landing Hoax.

        • He made a number of very specific claims: e.g. "Russian ASAT weapons were effective", yet he never provided any evidence this was true. His counterclaims were just as mythical as the "myths" he was trying to refute.
    • by stubear (130454)
      And yet you site no evidence to prove him wrong. How is this insightful? At least attack his logical theories but to claim there was no citation given as proof he's wrong is just as silly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sean.peters (568334)
        Geez, I never SAID he was wrong! I just said that he hadn't proven any claim! I wasn't the one writing a big article in an online journal, so I don't feel like I'm obligated to prove or disprove his claims... that's HIS job!

        Sean
    • by evilviper (135110)

      This article is highly amateurish and just about content-free.

      I'm not sure if you're really that stupid, or if this is a troll.

      1. Myth: The US already has satellite killers.
      The Space Review: No they don't! (no citation given)

      Bullshit.

      Citation: "1985 air-launch satellite intercept [project]"

      But more than that, he wasn't ever claiming the US doesn't have them, just that claims are vastly exaggerated, and unsupported (in other words he's saying "no citation given").

      2. Myth: The US wants to deny space to those

  • But since the 1985 air-launch satellite intercept, a project cancelled by Congress (see "Blunt arrows: the limited utility of ASATs", The Space Review, June 6, 2005), there is no evidence that a new satellite-killer technology has been developed.

    Oh no? HAARP [alaska.edu] can, according to people who work for the project, and according to the person who first showed that this project was feasible, push portions of the atmosphere into space to a sufficient degree to interrupt satellites. I found out about this from a hi

  • Deadliest 'Space' Weapon - MySpace.com :)
  • Doesn't the author of this list know these basic Internet rules?

    "Each Internet list must have only 10 elements."

    "The title of each list of 10 elements must begin with "Top Ten...""
  • > This goes double for nuclear weapons: putting them into space on a permanent basis was last taken seriously in the Sunday comics in the late 1950's.

    i vaguely remember snoopy and woodstock launching a nuclear weapons platform into space to help stop lucy from pulling the football out from charlie brown
  • orbiting brain lasers don't actually work?

    Despite their being based on open source?

    Heh, let's test them out on...what's under their orbit now?

    Kansas?

    Well, if we fry Kansas, the world may not hear of it for years.

  • While the poster does bring up a few decent points regarding misinformation and what is likely happening in the field of space weaponization, he/she provides a number of facts and or arguments that I find either false, or confusing. Some of these items may be confusing to me merely because the writer is not launching into a full explanation for the sake of internet brevity, but some are simply incorrect, incomplete, or half true. "Many of these stories deal with weapons that travel through space on their w
  • by jayslambast (519228) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `tsabmals'> on Monday March 12, 2007 @02:39PM (#18321179)
    I'm amazed at how everyone wants blow up sats. Its not in anyones interest to leave all that space debris around for other satellites and spacecraft to be hit with. It seems like it would be better to launch multiple satellites that latched onto the target and pushed it into the atmosphere. The victim satellite burns up on reentry and there isn't all that crap floating around to poke holes with.
  • [quote]Myth 2.
    But the actual policy document makes no such claim and displays no such intent to "deny" access. The Russian anxiety, echoed on the editorial pages and in news stories around the world, is apparently based on some over-wrought page 1 stories in US newspapers, written by people too careless to actually read the original US document and subsequent official US government clarifications, or too eager to misinterpret it in the most alarmingly stark terms.[/quote]

    The actual document clearly states,

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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