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Artist rendering of gravity tractor - image courtesy of B612 Foundation
DailyTech's International Space Updates for January 2007

Some experts seem to agree that it is only a matter of time before an asteroid or meteor strikes Earth in the future. While millions of them are aimlessly floating around in space, 200,000 to 400,000 of them come within range Earth, according to reports. That is why NASA astronaut Edward Lu wants NASA to deploy a spacecraft which would be able to divert asteroids so they will not run into the planet. In theory, the craft's gravitational pull would change the asteroid's orbit. UK researchers are planning on using a superior telescope located in Hawaii to help locate Earth-threatening asteroids.

India has successfully recovered the Space capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-1), a capsule that has been orbiting around the Earth at an altitude of 637km. The SRE-1 floated in space for 11 days before splashing into the Bay of Bengal earlier in the week. The Indian space agency used the SRE-1 to test its ability to accurately track and recover a space capsule landing back on Earth. The head of the team that created the capsule said that “the mission is a great success.”

Chinese space officials still continue to claim that its anti-satellite test is not a hostile act. The Chinese government confirmed that on Jan. 11 it launched a missile aimed at destroying an aging weather satellite, and the test has the United States and Japan worried. While the Chinese previously discussed its plans with U.S. Officials, both the Japanese and U.S. Governments want clarification on the future intentions of the Chinese.  With some form of a space war on the minds of many government officials, this recent incident only has more people worried.

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RE: The Ultimate defense
By masher2 on 1/25/2007 11:44:27 AM , Rating: 2
> "takes more than one person to push something like this through..."

True, far easier to intercept with a laser, of course...but tougher to actually knock out the satellite. Collimating a high-power beam across 100+ miles of atmosphere isn't trivial.

BTW, the Chinese have already done this as well...used a laser to blind a US satellite (not one of their own). It was a single test of a low-power laser that did no permanent damage...just enough to temporarily prevent it from functioning properly while over Chinese terrain.

RE: The Ultimate defense
By Ringold on 1/25/2007 4:43:00 PM , Rating: 2
Less trivial than what I had in mind while I was thinking of it, which is the laser's the military would want to use to slice up ICBMs. I figured the distance would be equivalent, but the target softer.

And perhaps that Boeing they're outfitting with a laser could pop off satellites while in a climb attitude? At altitudes in the Flight Level's the thickest part of the atmosphere is beneath the plane.

Of course, this is assuming they ever get that thing to work properly. :)

RE: The Ultimate defense
By masher2 on 1/25/2007 11:07:16 PM , Rating: 2
You referring to the US ABL (Airborne Laser) programme? If so, you'll probably be interested in this analysis:

Anti-Satellite Capabilities of Planned US Missile Defense Systems:

RE: The Ultimate defense
By Ringold on 1/26/2007 10:35:45 PM , Rating: 2
Very interesting.. Well, since those interceptors at Vandenberg & Greely haven't done too well at actual interception of ballistic missiles it's good to know they're not entirely useless.

In fact, the cynic in me suspects now that ASAT missions were of key consideration in their design. I've also read about agencies like the NRO and their slush funds. Nothing would surprise me.

Thanks for the link.

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