You weren’t using that satellite, were you? According to Aviation Week,

U. S. intelligence agencies believe China performed a successful anti-satellite (asat) weapons test at more than 500 mi. altitude Jan. 11 destroying an aging Chinese weather satellite target with a kinetic kill vehicle launched on board a ballistic missile.

The Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, NASA and other government organizations have a full court press underway to obtain data on the alleged test, Aviation Week & Space Technology will report in its Jan. 22 issue.

If the test is verified it will signify a major new Chinese military capability.

Jeffrey Lewis, ArmsControlWonk, looks closely at what might have happened and wonks his way right to the heart of the matter.

Looking at the data at Heaven’s Above, NORAD hasn’t updated the orbital elements for FY-1C since Friday—all the other candidate Russian or Chinese satellites have been updated since then.

(Oh, and if you look at the SPACETRACK data, there are lots more reasons to think this is the one. But that is about all I can say on that subject.)

My guess is that when NORAD updates the data again, we are going to seeing LOTS of debris. (Keep checking Heaven’s Above.)

I spoke with a couple of wonky types who tell me that one of the passes on Thursday—before the satellite dramatically changed orbit—would have taken the satellite over central China during what was early evening on the US east coast—about the same time a visible murmur ran through the Forum on Space and Defense in Colorado Springs.

So is this a real problem or just sabre rattling on either the Chinese (look what we can do!) or on the American side (look what they can do!)? According to my favourite defense/technology blog – maybe. Noah Shachtman also points out that the Chinese might have tested an anti-satellite laser back in September.

“China has fired high-power lasers at U.S. spy satellites flying over its territory in… a test of Chinese ability to blind the spacecraft,” Defense News is reporting. And, at least in theory, those lasers might be able temporarily take offline America’s most powerful orbiting spies, like the giant electro-optical Keyhole spacecraft or radar-based satellites like the Lacrosse.

But he goes on to update the story about the laser test and say that “Theresea Hitchens, the Center for Defense Information’s resident spacewar guru, [was] ‘not convinced – nor impressed.'” The ramifications of last week’s test are less than clear. One could hope for diplomacy but Bush is in the White House.

There is that little thing about the changed National Space Policy (NSP) published by the White House back in October. You don’t remember that? That was sort of the idea. The NSP was American sabre rattling par excellence. Basically it claimed “America can use space for whatever they damn well want including for national security. But other countries, um – no.” Tony Snow claimed it was an “old thing…inherited from Uncle Bill.” Who do I believe? *chin rub*

You remember the “Axis of Evil,” Iraq, Iran and North Korea, builders of WMD, the worst of the worst (outside of the innocent puppets being held in Guantanamo)? Well the war-mongers in the White House seem to have left one country out of the equation. China.

To be honest, being one of the “Axis of Evil,” really wasn’t that much of an honor. Iraq wasn’t; Iran is openly working on being evil – playing with that silly enrichment equipment and denying the Holocaust; and the North Koreans were kind enough to send a seismic present to declare their evilness. And you have to be rogue (= small) to be on the axis. Thus China got left out. But are they really that bad?

Perhaps the biggest thing that points against short term political problems with China is the economic factor. Instead of asking what Jesus would do if there was a war with China, one would be forced to ask What Would Wal-Mart Do (WWWMD)? What would happen to the American economy of Wal-Mart’s entire production capacity was on the wrong side of a war?

All this leads me to my philosophical pondering for the day…Jesus = Wal-Mart?

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