So, Wired’s Danger Room has an interesting take on the Pentagon’s response to that crashing spy satellite we mentioned here not too long ago. See, just in case the fuel tank spreads a toxic cloud across America (or, I suppose, somewhere else on Earth), the Pentagon wants to use giant space lasers (or nearest functional equivalent) to zap the thing out of the sky. Which is awfully convenient for defense purposes while not being terribly scientifically sound:
So what could that other reason be?
Our veteran space security specialist believes there are several. To him, the satellite shot is a chance for the military to try out its missile defense capabilities; a way to keep secret material out of the wrong hands; and a warning to the Chinese, after they destroyed a satellite about a year ago. He shared some educated guesses:
My first thought is that MDA [Missile Defense Agency] is always looking for ways to pimp their systems and provide further justification that they work. The upcoming change in Administration is almost guaranteed to result in missile defense losing the top-level advocacy that it has enjoyed for the last several years. Any additional missions and justifications that the missile defense community can provide would increase the likelihood of their systems (and budgetary power) surviving.
An additional reason could be that destroying the satellite would prevent any chance of another nation getting access to any of the potentially sensitive technology on board. …
My real concern is that this is simply a knee-jerk reaction made by the Administration in response to the purported threat by the Chinese. Since the April 2007 ASAT [anti-satellite] test, there have been rumors and whispers going around that the Administration and like-minded individuals are looking for more sticks (instead of carrots) to use against China.