Monday, February 25, 2008

Satellite Shootdown (continued)

"The Pentagon said President Bush had ordered the mission to prevent
possible contamination of inhabited areas. It said the interception was not a
weapons test or a demonstration
for potential adversaries."
- NY Times

In a shareholder press release, here's what Lockheed Martin (the manufacturer of the missile) had to say:

DESTROYS ERRANT SATELLITE Aegis Versatility Helps Avert Potential Disaster

February 22, 2008 -- Again
demonstrating its adaptability to support new and more challenging mission
needs, Lockheed Martin's [NYSE: LMT] Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)
Weapon System successfully destroyed an errant United States satellite,
preventing it from an uncontrolled and unpredictable reentry and potential crash
to Earth.

Just for poops and giggles I looked up the words "test" and "demonstration" in the dictionary:

TEST: examination, experiment or trial as to prove the
value or ascertain the nature of something.

DEMONSTRATION: to show the operation or working of;
specifically to show (a product) in use in an effort to sell it

Maybe I'm taking the comment a little out of context, but for an event that wasn't a "demonstration" the whole world was given front row seats. Video of the missile hitting the satellite and exploding are all over the net. It was only a few months ago that China performed a similar feet in shooting down one of their own malfunctioning satellites with a missile.

Both China and the US have shown the world they both possess the technology to strike a target in space from the Earth. It's reasonable to then conclude, using that same technology, they could strike a target on Earth from Space. A satellite or shuttle, outfitted with an appropriate delivery system, is all that is needed. The implications of this are fairly alarming. Imagine a satellite orbiting the Earth capable of delivering a payload from just a few miles directly above it's target. The satellite could be positioned over its target within hours, especially if traveling against the rotation of the Earth, ushering in a new era of first strike capability.

Check out the fireworks here:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Amtrak to Screen Carry-On Bags at Random

"a major new
security push that will include train and platform patrols by
officers with
automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs

- NY Times

Passengers who are selected randomly for the screening will be delayed no more than a couple of minutes. If the machine detects anything, officers will open the bag for visual inspection.

There was some bubble headed lady on the radio today saying "Well it's about time the got security in the trains. I mean, they've had it for years on planes ... and yes, I do feel safer."

How do guns + bomb sniffing dogs + body armor + trains = security for the passengers??? I'd rather take my chances with a terrorist. Besides, no way can a terrorist take over a train nowadays anyway - every one in the country has seen the movie "United 93" at this point. I'd say we have enough disgruntled commuters providing "security" on the nation's trains.
Satellite Shootdown

The US plans to shootdown “a failed spy satellite”. A long range anti-ballistic missile is to be fired from an American Warship just as the satellite is nearing Earth's atmosphere. China opposes this action, claiming the US isn’t concerned with “space junk”, but is concerned with not letting the technology fall into the wrong hands.

“In my opinion, this decision is imprudent and ill
advised. If this satellite is shot down, the toxic fuel will still be there.
Therefore, the pollution still exists.”

- Li Bin, Chinese arms control specialist,

The Pentagon said it was not using the effort to test its most exotic weapons or send a message to any adversaries.

Time to rant:
These could potentially be the first baby steps in what will one day become a new arms race – this one focused in and around space technology and weapons. One unspoken benefit for the US: they will see how accurately they can hit a moving target in space, from sea, with an anti-ballistic missile. If they can do it well from the ground, imagine the implications of shooting a missile, from space, downwards; onto a land or sea based target.

Armed satellites and shuttles, capable of devastating first strike capability anywhere on the planet, make the Cold War era arms race look like a redneck flea market.

And what the hell is “a failed spy satellite”??? Is that something we really want to be telling the world about? I’d appreciates a little secrecy from Homeland Security regarding our supposedly dominant, yet always on the fritz, technology. Yes, I know my cell phone can't hold a signal (or a battery charge), but I don’t want our enemies abroad to knowing that.

Noam Chomsky has much to say on the militarization of space his book "Hegemony or Survival", and his aptly title lecture “The Militarization of Science and Space.” Both are worth checking out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kosovo Declares Independence from Serbia

“I feel the heartbeat of our ancestors. We, the
leaders of our people, democratically elected, through this declaration proclaim
Kosovo an independent and sovereign state.”
- Kosovo’s prime minister, 2/18/2008

US, Britain, France and Germany publicly recognize Kosovo as a nation. Kosovo has suffered years of bloody civil strife and UN rule.

My history professor would call this a win for liberalism. Seems like its a good week in Kosovo, hopefully it will last for them. Anything is better than civil war, revolution and UN rule.