Saturday, February 16, 2008

Maniak: that stuff about the satellite gas tank is crap

You may have heard of this story from CNN about the US intending to shoot down one of our own spy satellites for "safety reasons":
The attempt by the U.S. Navy to use an anti-missile missile to shoot down a potentially hazardous satellite will cost between $40 million and $60 million, Pentagon officials told CNN on Friday.
Pentagon officials argue the effort is worth the expense because of the slim -- but real -- chance that the satellite's unused fuel, 1,000 pounds of toxic hydrazine, could land in a populated area.
Emphasis added. Maniak, Internal Monologue's top-secret resident rocketry expert, is calling bullshit:
What a load of crap. There's NO WAY a fully-loaded hydrazine tank survives reentry. Now, an empty or almost empty tank might, because with its low mass and high surface area profile, it would decelerate rapidly and basically float down like a scrap of paper from high in the atmosphere. But a full tank is going to blow out shortly after interface because it's going to maintain its velocity for longer, and there will be more of a chance for it to heat and melt. So the hydrazine is nothing but an excuse, which means that they have to want to make damn sure no one finds even small parts of whatever's in that thing. $60 million worth of sure.
Maniak goes on to speculate (Note: ASAT = anti-satellite weapon):
  1. China has pissed us off royally in the ASAT demonstration department.
  2. We can't deploy first-strike ASAT overtly in Asia without causing a major diplomatic row.
  3. Japan already owns the SM3 platform in an ABM (defensive) capacity.
  4. If this works, it demonstrates that some pretty simple retrofits converts the SM3 to a low-rent ASAT platform.
  5. China now has to assume Japan will do those retrofits on their own, or with secret US help.
  6. Ta-da. We now have at least a virtual first-strike ASAT threat in Asia.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, we won’t miss it. We can’t afford to. Can you imagine the Chinese offering to shoot it down for us? Bush would have to invite the Chinese President to the White House for dinner.

“If we miss, nothing changes. If we shoot and barely touch it, the satellite is just barely in orbit” and would still burn up somewhat in the atmosphere, Griffin said.

4:37 AM, February 19, 2008  

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