"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:
MODIFIED LOCKHEED MARTIN AEGIS WEAPON SYSTEM SUCCESSFULLY
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
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: