Space: The Aircraft Carrier Killer Satellite

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March 13, 2007: While China has backed off, in the face of widespread international criticism, from blowing up any more space satellites with its new anti-satellite satellite, they have found a new use for it. The chief designer of Chinese satellites and spacecraft, Qi Faren, announced that their anti-satellite system can be modified to attack aircraft carriers. American aircraft carriers, one presumes, because China does not expect to have any carriers for another three or four years.

There's currently no treaty in force banning weapons in space. But the nations capable of putting weapons in space, have refrained from doing so for several decades. This is an informal agreement, and the United States has made it clear that is under no legal obligation to keep weapons out of space. If there were an arms race in space between China and the U.S., China would most likely lose.

The Chinese anti-satellite system was not actually a space satellite, but rather an ICBM warhead modified to stay in orbit for a while, and home in on a satellite passing in the vicinity. A similar "fractional orbit" type weapon could be used to hit ships at sea, if you had other satellite (especially radar satellites) nearby to keep track of the moving carrier. China would also need a well designed and robust guidance system for the warhead. Since China has demonstrated its ability to reliably launch satellites, and solid fuel ICBMs, as well as an anti-satellite system, an anti-ship ICBM is not beyond their capabilities.


 


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