science & technology

War in space: Kamikazes, kidnapper satellites and lasers (Must Read)

SP 2016-12-11 07:11:51pm

It was May 2014 when a small team of American airmen monitoring a Russian satellite launch saw something they had never seen before. An object the team thought was a piece of debris from the launch suddenly came to life.  

"The one object that we assumed was a piece of debris started to maneuver in close proximity to the (rocket) booster," recalled Lt. Gen. David Buck, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space located at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Buck, who oversees US military space forces, said the deliberate maneuvers the mystery object made close to the rocket's booster were a red flag. Getting that close to another object in space is a complex feat, as objects can move as fast as 17,500 miles per hour. "That got our attention," Buck said.

In other words, what the US military was witnessing was not debris at all, but instead a satellite with a dangerous capability, one that could allow it to cozy up next to another satellite and potentially destroy it. 

As US adversaries like Russia and China sprint to gain greater control of space, the US finds itself in a new, more ominous arms race with a dizzying array of capabilities that sound like Hollywood creations but are now reality -- from what could be kamikaze and kidnapper satellites launched by Russia and China to lasers and space drones deployed by the US. 

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