Thursday, February 21, 2008

We Hit It. I Think.

The claim is, the missile hit the satellite. But we won't know for 24 hours whether the hit was effective.

Many have been speculating that this shootdown of a satellite in a decaying orbit was motivated by eagerness to play with Star Wars toys, something that I am ever more convinced is at least part of the thinking that went into this. And the fact that no one knows after firing the missile whether it did any good only adds to my deep skepticism about the worthiness of this boondoggle of a program.

I think Gail Collins has it about right:

Before it fired at the satellite Wednesday night, the military was hesitating about making a shot, citing the possibility of “choppy seas.” Cynics who asked whether this means the nation’s quadrillion-dollar missile defense system only works when the weather is calm were told to stop being ridiculous.


Anonymous said...

One of the pundits on TV tonight said that the idea wasn't to destroy the satellite, it was to demonstrate to the world that we have missiles that can shoot down an inter-continental missile in case China or Korea or anybody else was thinking of sending one our way. According to this pundit from MIT there's no way the dangerous gas could ever reach earth and no instrumentation that might be interesting to a foreign power would survive re-entry. His theory is that it's all a show of the capability of the U.S. defense missiles and nobody including us cares about the spy satellite that it's going to destroy. FWIW

Anonymous said...

Video of the strike (1min 5sec):

Rick said...

About two minutes after I moved to Japan N. Korea lobbed a missile across Japan and into the Pacific. They've attempted (and failed) to do it again. They are crazy motherfuckers, and anything that shows them how technologically inept they are is fine by me.
I'm not a paranoid type, but China pulled off the satellite trick last year themselves (but, true to recent form, made a much bigger mess).
I don't like arms races and such, but, living in Japan, anyway, I'm comforted that the US can still do it better...

bjkeefe said...

Cool vid, anon. Thanks for the link.

TC: I am usually inclined to believe the worst about the ulterior motives of the current administration, but I don't buy into the demonstration theory. Hitting a satellite is way easier than hitting an incoming missile, as I understand it. I am more inclined to think that there was just a plain urge to play with toys, mixed with paranoia about classified hardware and the perennial worry of politicians about being seen as not doing something.

Kyklops: Interesting take on the matter. I can see your point, but I guess I just don't believe we'll ever develop an anti-missile system reliable enough to stop a determined attack.