Saturday, January 20, 2007

China: Stop Invading My Space! (not MySpace)

As if there wasn't enough for me to worry about, (four teenagers under the roof, two jobs, and the chronic panic over the paucity of alcohol up here) now I have images of our communications satellites being blown up into smithereens.

In the Arctic, we are totally dependent upon satellites for telephony, Internet access, television, and digital radio. These services reside on a few small devices about a cubic metre in size orbiting 25,000 miles above the equator in geostationary orbit.

Now it seems the Chinese, for some obscure reason, have blown up one of their redundant weather satellites using a medium-range missile. Actually, not so much blown up as hit with ramming speed leaving a substantial debris field which will continue to follow the same orbital path. This in turn presents some peril to future satellites and space missions, where a gram-sized bit of junk travelling at many thousands of kilometres an hour can cut right through the skin of any space vehicle.

The United States also accomplished this feat back in the Reagan years, but is now bent out of shape that another nation had the temerity to demonstrate the same capability. A little bit like the pot calling the wok black. Bush's Space Policy enunciated last year asserts that the US gives itself the right to protect its assets in space, while presumably no other nation has the same privilege.

Because of our geography, we Canadians are heavily reliant upon those tiny transmitters, antennae and processors spinning around the globe for many essential communications-based services. Indeed, Canada was the first country to launch a communications satellite, Anik A1 in 1972. I contend that if any nation's interests in protecting its extraterrestrial assets are essential to its existence, it would be Canada - though an argument could be made for Russia as well.

So how can Canada protect its space hardware?

Personally, I think all our satellites should be twinned with mechanical platforms fitted out with a Canadarm, so that whenever a threatening launch is detected, the satellite can be latched onto and deftly removed from harm's way at the last possible moment.

But I'm sure my readership can proffer more imaginative solutions.


Blogger DutchBitch said...

So... why not MySpace actually? Just asking...

10:17 AM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Canada should wrap its mighty armada of satellites in bubble wrap to lessen the impact of Chinese shrapnel. How's that space program coming by the way??

It is kind of funny. I thought Saturn was cool because it had rings -now we have a ring, unfortunately its all crap we put up there. Tired of screwing up the planet, might as well use space as a landfill. It is no wonder no celestial beings want to make contact - we’re slobs, the trailer trash of the Universe!!

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2:32 AM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Blancmange I think.

6:39 PM  

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