China fires ballistic missile into Space destroying its own Weather SatellitePolitics / China Jan 19, 2007 - 05:30 PM GMT
China successfully fired a ground based ballistic missile into space destroying one of its own weather satellite Feng Yun (FY-1C), that was schedules to be shortly retired. Immediately western leaders expressed concern that China was now capable of targeting foreign satellites including low orbit spy satellite, and risked a new space arms race.
The launch took place on 12th January 2006, and represents the first known satellite missile attack in over 20 years. No warhead was on the medium range ballistic missile which was destroyed by means of impact using kinetic kill projectile, shattering the weather satellite into many hundreds of pieces with concern growing that these satellite fragments could hit other satellites and damage them.
A kinetic kill projectile is the last stage of the missile. The kinetic energy of the projectile is the energy that missile possesses due to its velocity and therefore destroys the satellite by means of impact.
Recently the White House had warned publicly that the destruction of satellites would be viewed seriously by the United States and it specifically warned against using missiles to destroy satellites.
China has long been calling for international talks to set limits on military space activities, but this has been rejected by the Bush Whitehouse, which also wants to develop and deploy ASAT (anti Satellite) weapons. Therefore the test could be taken as a means of pressuring the United States into negotiations to limit weapons in space. The danger now exists that unless the US and China embark on such negotiations that this could mark the start of another costly arms race.
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