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China shoots down old weather satellite, demonstrating capability of destroying hostile spy satellites.


2007, January 11


According to an article in the magazine American Aviation Week and Space Technology, China used a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile to destroy an aging weather satellite (Feng Yun 1C) that had been launched in 1999. The satellite was orbiting at more than 865 km (537 miles) above Earth (more than twice as high as the International Space Station) and was destroyed through kinetic impact - that is by slamming into it. This indicates the capability for high precision missile guidance. It was the first test since the 1980s when the USA and the former Soviet Union had destroyed satellites in space. Western countries (USA, Australia, Japan, and others) were obviously caught by surprise.
Analysis: While Western media are focusing our attention on Iraq, Islamic fundamentalism, international terrorism, economic stagnation, population ageing or global climate change, China has been quietly pursuing her own interests with utmost determination. This space test is just another example that China is following through with her plans to become a leading nation in space technology. The test has created dangerous space debris that could endanger both the military and civilian use of space. While the USA is certainly unhappy about the test, Washington has reformulated US space policy in October 2006 to allow such actions for itself. This development could open the door to a new round in "star wars" research.


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Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved. - 18 April 2012