It seemed somewhat suspicious right from the initial announcement. It now seems quite obvious that the US Navy's attempt at shooting down a "broken" US spy satellite is an anti-ballistic missile test.
U.S. Reveals Plans to Shoot Down Spy Satellite
Russia leads way in stopping space weapons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf0MctXZYxo
The U.S. military is planning to shoot down a broken spy satellite from space. The Pentagon says the rocket poses a direct threat to human life, as it contains highly toxic fuel and is expected to hit Earth in early March. But the move announced by George Bush comes at a sensitive time because of the controversy surrounding China's anti-satellite test last year and Russia’s fear of American weapons use in space.
In January 2007 China carried out a test, which caused international alarm. The country launched a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile to destroy a weather satellite in space. It was the first known satellite intersept in more than twenty years. At the time Washington voiced serious concerns that it could trigger an arms race in space. "We certainly are concerned by any effort by any nation that would be geared toward developing weapons or other military activities in space. That's absolutely contrary to what our policy has articulated by the White House," said Tom Casey, US State Department spokesman, in January last year.
U.S. changes its mind
But on Thursday the United States announced it will use a missile to bring down a broken satellite. It comes at a sensitive time when both China and Russia are concerned about any prospective space arms race. The Standard Missile 3 would be fired from a navy ship to intercept the satellite before it re-enters the atmosphere. The official reason is that is poses a threat to human life, as the spy-satellite contains huge amount of toxic rocket fuel. “After further review of this option (the missile intercept), and in particular consideration of the question of saving or reducing injury to human life, the President, on the recommendation of his national and homeland security teams directed the Department of Defence to carry out the intercept,” said James Jeffries, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser.
According to the Pentagon, shooting the satellite down would also help to reduce any debris from any reentry to the atmosphere. But some experts are unsatisfied with the official line of the United States' motives and that its strategy has changed. Analysts say that the Pentagon may be planning to conduct a full-scale test of an anti-satellite weapon. “This missile is part of the American military arsenal including the navy. These rockets are designed to shoot down tactical ballistic missiles. Of course, this will be a weapon test,” Konstantin Sivkov, military expert, said. A space analyst, Yury Karash, joined RT to comment on the situation. The United States seems to be starting to implement its space policy, revised in 2006, which stated Washington had a right on freedom of action in space. But with Russia and China strongly opposed to any arms in space, other countries might join the fight against any expansion of the so-called star wars.
Russia: US Satellite Shot a Weapons Test
Russia said Saturday that U.S. military plans to shoot down a damaged spy satellite may be a veiled test of America's missile defense system. The Pentagon failed to provide "enough arguments" to back its plan to smash the satellite next week with a missile, Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement. "There is an impression that the United States is trying to use the accident with its satellite to test its national anti-missile defense system's capability to destroy other countries' satellites," the ministry said. The Bush administration says the operation is not a test of a program to kill other nations' orbiting communications and intelligence capabilities. U.S. diplomats around the world have been instructed to inform governments that it is meant to protect people from 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel on the bus-sized satellite hurtling toward Earth. The diplomats were told to distinguish the upcoming attempt from last year's test by China of a missile specifically designed to take out satellites, which was criticized by the United States and other countries. Known by its military designation US 193, the satellite was launched in December 2006. It lost power and its central computer failed almost immediately afterward, leaving it uncontrollable. It carried a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor. Left alone, the satellite would likely hit Earth during the first week of March. About half of the 5,000-pound spacecraft would probably survive its blazing descent through the atmosphere and would scatter debris over several hundred miles. Military and administration officials said the satellite is carrying fuel called hydrazine that could injure or kill people who are near it when it hits the ground. The operation to shoot down the dead satellite could happen as soon as next week.
Russia appeals for weapons-free space
Russia's Foreign Minister has told delegates at UN disarmament talks that using weapons in space could undermine the world's military balance. Sergey Lavrov presented a draft treaty by Russia and China at the meeting in Geneva, which prevents states from sending weapons into orbit. "The modern international space law does not prohibit deployment of weapons in space if they are not classified as weapons of mass destruction. However, such weapons if deployed in space would have a global reach, high deployment readiness, a capability for hidden engagement of space and earth objects, and the ability to render them inoperative. In contrast to weapons of mass destruction, such weapons would be fit for real use," said Sergey Lavrov. Meanwhile, the initiative faces strong opposition from the U.S., which wants to improve its defence. "We believe that strategic stability can no longer remain an exclusive domain of Russia-U.S. relations, although, of course the Russian Federation and the U.S. will continue to play a leading role here. But bipolarity needs to be overcome by opening up this sphere to all interested states, which are prepared to actively co-operate for the future strengthening of common security," the Minister noted. The idea of using space as an arms foothold is not new. Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan came up with the Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983. Under the concept nicknamed 'Star Wars', the U.S. was set to build a space-based anti-missile shield that would make Soviet nuclear arms outdated. A quarter of a century on, the danger is universally understood and a weapons-free space is seen as a guarantee of modern world security. In 2006, the U.S. adopted a new Space Policy, which sets no limits on weapons being used in space. "We reserve the right to defend ourselves against hostile attacks and interference with our space assets. We will therefore oppose others who wish to use their military capabilities, to impede or deny our access to or use of space," Robert Joseph, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Arms Control and International Security, said.