Friday, February 22, 2008

More Than Meets The Eye In The Sky

This week, the United States shot down one of our own spy satellites, ostensibly because it was set to fall to earth under its own (lack of) control some time in early March. The government's official statement was along the lines of:
The satellite became uncontrollable almost immediately after it was launched in 2006, when it lost power and its central computer failed. Left alone, the 5,000-pound satellite would have hit Earth during the first week of March, military officials previously estimated.
Apparently, its fuel source, hydrazine, is toxic and could have caused environmental damage. The intrepid AP reporter, unbiased and just-the-facts-ma'am as one could be, goes on to state:
[Independent analysts have been skeptical, noting that hydrazine is commonly used in industrial chemistry and that it quickly breaks down in the presence of oxygen. They surmise the satellite's destruction, which cost tens of millions of dollars, was to prevent top-secret spy technology falling into the wrong hands.]
"Independent analyists"? Sources, please? I guess the [] brackets make silly speculation OK, as long as the brackets are there. The author must have learned about that in Journalism 201, "How To Insert Bias And Maintain Plausible Deniability".

But I digress. Allow me to throw a bit more wood on the conspiracy-theory fire. I am becoming increasingly convinced that the satellite itself posed no danger, whether it was actually going to fall under its own power or not. In light of this recent event, in which the Chinese performed an assertive and aggressive demonstration of their own capability of using land-based weaponry to remove space objects from orbit, I think a more interesting explanation exists. Specifically, I suspect that the US either exploited the situation of a falling satellite, or manufactured it from whole cloth, in order to demonstrate that "Oh, hey, China? Yeah, we can do that too. More efficiently, with less advance notice, and more KABLAMMO". And under the guise of doing so for safety reasons, they get away scot-free, without getting blamed by the usual suspects (any one in the EU or the "axis of evil", for example) for "Sabre-rattling", "provocation", or any of the usual litany of sins which are actually just euphemisms for "displaying the strength that we lack". Bravo, United States Military, bravo.

In honor of this fortuitous event, and because it's Friday, here's a video of Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds performing the last 40 seconds of DMB's hit song "Satellite", from a clip of VH1's "Storytellers". The rest of the 9 minute video includes a story and another song if you're bored.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is basically the same thing I told my wife last night. They were not too worried about Skylab, which did hit land.


1:22 PM  

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