Last week, the Chinese sent a missile up into orbit and obliterated an old satellite of theirs, creating a speeding debris cloud that will threaten other satellites for years.
Why'd they do that? As The New York Times reports
, the Bush administration has been working on a "a powerful ground-based laser weapon that would be used against enemy satellites." And they don't want to give it up:
In late August, President Bush authorized a new national space policy that ignored calls for a global prohibition on such tests. The policy said the United States would âpreserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in spaceâ and âdissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so.â It declared the United States would âdeny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests.â
The Chinese test âcould be a shot across the bow,â said Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information, a private group in Washington that tracks military programs. âFor several years, the Russians and Chinese have been trying to push a treaty to ban space weapons. The concept of exhibiting a hard-power capability to bring somebody to the negotiating table is a classic cold war technique.â
Ah, it's like 1986 all over again.