Friday, January 19, 2007

China's ASAT Test

The disclosure that China successfully tested a ground launched anti-satellite missile last week has sparked a flurry of protests and analyses. The U.S. conducted an air-launched ASAT test back in the eighties and the Soviet Union/Russia has been pursuing ASAT technology. This event brings up a few observations.

First, given human fallibility (original sin), it was probably naive to believe that human activity would expand into space without some extent of 'militarization'. Of course we don't want to unnecessarily provoke or exacerbate the situation, but it is only prudent to plan for protecting our interests and the common good in space. It is in everyone's common good, including the Chinese, to refrain from further tests of this type which would create clouds of debris that could prove hazardous for other orbital activities.

Clarke Lindsey points out that the Chinese test may provide a timely boost for some DoD plans for more rapidly responsive launch capabilities, which would also benefit civil and commercial space activities.

Finally, the increasing level of civil, military and commercial activities of the US, Russia, China, India, Japan and other nations shows that space will be increasing in its role as a stage for human activity.

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