This morning the US succeeded in destroying a broken satellite with a “jury-rigged” antimissile interceptor. This now leaves exactly zero places where one can put something we can’t blow up. (Assuming you tell us where it is, which has recently been our biggest problem in the blowing things up business.)
This is a pretty impressive accomplishment. Maybe too, impressive, especially considering the circumstances. According to the government, a missile was reprogrammed in a period of a few weeks to intercept a cold satellite that bears little resemblance to the inbound ICBMs that it was originally intended to strike.
Anybody who has ever worked with the government or a defense contractor knows that there is no way in hell that they could reprogram a microwave oven in anything less than a month, let alone a sophisticated missile targeting system. First of all, nobody in the Navy could do that. It would have to be done by the contractor that built the missile. And it would take months to even get the paperwork ready to allocate the funds to pay the contractor. When I worked for the Navy one summer, it took them two months just to requisition a computer for me to use. Heck, the federally mandated contractor diversity audit and harassment sensitivity training alone would take weeks.
From the Times story:
During a Pentagon news conference Thursday morning, General Cartwright rebuffed those who said the mission was, at least in part, organized to showcase American missile defense or anti-satellite capabilities.
He said the missile itself had to be reconfigured from its task of tracking and hitting an adversaryâ€™s warhead to instead find a cold, tumbling satellite. â€œThis was a one-time modification,â€ General Cartwright said.
So, we’re supposed to believe that the US let the Chinese jump ahead of us in military technology? They’ve had the ability to strike down satellites since at least January of last year, when they took down one of their own weather satellites in an apparent test of their systems.
The most plausible explanation is that the DoD has had the ability to knock down satellites for a long time, and that this is just the first public use of the technology. The whole line about them retasking an existing missile is just cover. The missile they used, whatever it was, was designed to be able to target satellites.