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Space Wars - Coming to the Sky Near You?

A recent shift in U.S. military strategy and provocative actions by china threaten to ignite a new arms race in space. But would placing weapons in space be in anyone's national interest?

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Debris Damage

Puncture to NASA's Solar Maximum Mission satellite resulted from a strike by tiny orbital debris.....[ More ]

When the Dust Won't Clear

A military conflict in space could release an enveloping cloud of debris that could damage or destroy satellites and crewed spacecraft that circle the globe. At orbital speeds, even minuscule objects could deeply penetrate a vehicle and wreck vital equipment.....[ More ]

Other Antisatellite Systems

Most of the major military powers have probably experimented with ground-based radio-frequency systems that could disable the communications systems of satellites. Moreover, any country with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles could explode an atomic weapon in orbit, which would wreak havoc on most of the satellites and spacecraft there.....[ More ]

Space Bomber

Feasibility:
Low Cost Estimate:
· Space bomber: $4 billion The Pentagon’s Common Aero Vehicle/Hypersonic Technology Vehicle is not by definition a space weapon, but it would travel through space to strike terrestrial targets within an hour or two of being deployed.....[ More ]

Co-orbital Satellites

In one early design the resulting space debris was to be caught in a so-called flyswatter or large net.....[ More ]

Co-orbital Satellites

Feasibility:
Medium to high Cost Estimates:
· Space-based (kinetic-energy and other) interceptor: $5 billion–$19 billion
· Space-based radio-frequency jammer: not available
· Space mine: $100 million–$2 billion Small antisatellite weapons, or micro satellites, could be lofted into the same orbits as their targets, where they could shadow or attach themselves to the targets.....[ More ]

Kinetic-Energy Interceptors

Feasibility:
High Cost Estimates*:
· Ground-based kinetic-energy interceptor (adapted from existing U.S. ballistic missile defense program): $0–$3 billion
· Airborne kinetic-energy interceptor: $3 billion Apart from jamming the radio communications or attacking ground-control stations, probably the simplest way to disable a satellite is to launch a missile-borne payload and crash it into an orbital target.....[ More ]

Directed-Energy Systems

Feasibility:
Medium Cost Estimates:
· Ground-based laser: $4 billion–$6 billion
· Space-based laser  (low- to high-power capability): $3 billion–$60 billion
· Space-based microwave radiator: $200 million–$5 billion Ground-based laser beams that are precision-guided onto their targets by adaptive optics (deformable mirrors that compensate for atmospheric distortions) could blind, disable or destroy satellites in low Earth orbit.....[ More ]

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