Fwd = High-Tech Warfare Could Litter Space with Debris
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Original Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 13:15:22 -0500 (EST)
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General Warns: High-Tech Warfare Could Litter Space with Debris
By Charles Aldinger
Reuters News Agency
posted: 07:01 pm ET
28 March 2001
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Warfare high above Earth could litter space
with speeding debris that might rip into commercial satellites and
space shuttles, the U.S. military's space chief warned on Wednesday.
Air Force Gen. Ralph Eberhart said instant intelligence and
communications were so important to the United States and other
nations that future enemies might consider blowing up each other's
"First and foremost, I'm concerned about the debris in space and not
knowing what's going to happen once you blow it [a satellite] up,"
with a projectile, the head of the U.S. Space Command told reporters.
"I have to admit that I would also be concerned about the threshold
that you cross if you do that ... what it might mean in terms of
weapons in space and other space activities," the general added.
Eberhart said the military was already tracking some 9,000 orbiting
objects, some as tiny as a fountain pen, and that commercial
satellites and shuttles were threatened by junk moving at thousands of
miles [kilometers] an hour.
Paint fleck "can ruin your day"
"Even a [speeding] fleck of paint can ruin your day if you are in the
shuttle," he told reporters.
Eberhart, who heads the North American Aerospace Defense Command for
the United States and Canada, said the Pentagon was also increasingly
worried about the ability of China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq and even
"terrorist" groups and drug cartels to disrupt computers using
electronic "cyber warfare."
The United States has "become so reliant on our computer systems, our
information, that as we train and exercise and are involved in
contingency operations we have come to take those capabilities ... for
granted," he said.
The United States is in the process of developing a space policy,
including a decision on whether anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons should
be used in the blackness beyond the atmosphere.
Eberhart said he thinks that destroying another country's
communications or spy satellites using a projectile would be "a
Negotiations, disrupting satellite links electronically or even
bombing ground communications stations might be preferable to
launching weapons in space, he said.
"I would much rather use negotiations. I would much rather interfere
with the uplinks and downlinks, I would much rather ... bomb a ground
station," Eberhart told reporters.
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