China Tests Anti-Satellite Weapon, Unnerving U.S.

#1
China successfully carried out its first test of an anti-satellite weapon last week, signaling its resolve to play a major role in military space activities and bringing expressions of concern from Washington and other capitals, the Bush administration said Thursday.

Only two nations — Russia and the United States — have previously destroyed spacecraft in anti-satellite tests, most recently the United States in the mid 1980s.

Arms control experts called the test, in which a Chinese missile destroyed an aging Chinese weather satellite, a troubling development that could foreshadow either an anti-satellite arms race or, alternatively, a diplomatic push by China to force the Bush administration into negotiations on a weapons ban.

“This is the first real escalation in the weaponization of space that we’ve seen in 20 years,” said Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who tracks rocket launchings and space activity. “It ends a long period of restraint.”

At a time when China is modernizing its nuclear weapons, expanding the reach of its navy and sending astronauts into orbit for the first time, the test appears to mark a new sphere of technical and military competition. American officials complained today that China made no public or private announcements about its test, despite repeated requests by American officials for more openness about their actions.

The weather satellite hit by the missile circled the globe at an altitude of roughly 500 miles. In theory, the test means that China can now hit American spy satellites, which orbit closer to Earth than that. Experts said remnants of the destroyed satellite could threaten to damage or destroy other satellites for years or even decades to come.

In late August, President Bush authorized a new national space policy that ignored calls for a global prohibition on such tests and asserted the need for American “freedom of action in space.”


in full

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/18/w...&en=1cccc5a239b55188&ei=5094&partner=homepage
 
#2
When China sent a man to space in 2003, there was a worry that it was cover for an anti satellite system. Seems to be the case to me.

Nonetheless, the venture will bring China new capabilities that can be applied to missile guidance, anti-satellite warfare and space-based tracking of submarines deployed by world powers.
"There are obviously military spinoffs for the program," said Mohan Malik, a specialist in China and Asian geopolitics at the Pentagon-funded Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. "But the most important factor, of course, is that China wants to signal its arrival as a great power on the international stage."
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/space/2151264.html

How come nobody figured this out? Could it be because, Dubya was so keen (and still is) to start a war he did not see this coming?
 
#6
While this may be an overt demostration of enhanced high-tec weaponry, I wonder how significant, merely by itself, it really is.

I was far more concerned, a few years back, to read in The Economist about Chinese 'logic bombs': according to this article, a lot of computer viruses have their origins in Chinese military programmes and are designed to disable the systems of any hi-tech adversary (...I wonder who?). Any informed comment welcome.

It seems to me that, if true, this far more insidious threat is potentially more significant than any high profile gizmos. Although presumably the Chinese are equipping themselves to knock out communications satellites and the like, it's the strategic logic behind this kind of 'tooling up' that seems more worrying than the mere capabilities here demonstrated.
 

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