Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Space Defense and Junk..

At this link is an interesting talk by Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese, a faculty member at the Naval War College about the degree to which we are dependent upon space technology, and the urgency of securing that technology. In service to that end the speaker suggests we concentrate our space efforts less toward exploration, revisiting the moon, or sending manned missions to Mars, but more toward protecting orbital technology. Interestingly, though, she argues for private enterprise in such endeavors leading the way, with state cooperation of course.

A good exercise in seeing the importance of security of our space based technology is to consider something as simple as a typical day at work, and the trip to and from. On the trip in to work, if you drive, you will need to fill the tank periodically. If you use a credit card at the pump, satellite links are used in the verification process. If the sort of timing errors that are referenced in the talk, or something more catastrophic occurs, you will not be able to fill ‘er up, unless you deal in cash. But suppose you manage that. What then?

Space based technology allows for ATM and other forms of banking and financial transactions, national and international use of cell and landline phone systems, logistical routing for all and sundry businesses, and emergency vehicle routing. Air travel is dependent on space. The interweb-twitter-facebook-bloggertubes are dependent on space technology. Modern television tech is space based, as is radio. So, with a bit of imagination, you can see this: If space based technology were to go down for any significant period of time, the trip to work is only the tip of the berg.

Once you arrived at your place of employment, you probably could not conduct much business via phone or e-banking, you would be unable to fly to important and unimportant meetings because air traffic control would be non-existent, web based apps would be out, so you wouldn’t be able to route plan using the web. Needless to say, GPS would not function either. So, you would head home not having accomplished much.

Say that on the way home, you need to buy some food for dinner. How is that going to go? Hope you have cash. If things were down for a significant period of time, your trip to the grocery store may be less than fruitful, (bad pun intended) cash or no, because trucking will have been snarled, and the store would not have stock, or vastly reduced stock.

Well, OK, what if the unthinkable happened on the way home, and you were involved in an accident. Could you use your cell to call for help? How about bystanders? Could they? Nope. If you needed emergency care, that too would be a challenge; dispatch often depend on satellite uplink. And how about insurance verification at the ER? How about your prescription drugs? That all depends on a supply chain; thus satellite verification tech as well. And paying with your credit card? So, hopefully, you’re young and healthy and carrying that wad o’ cash.

Now, get ye home.

So, you make it home to the fam. Food is tight, and you are playing Capt. Bligh (‘Who shall have this?’) with what little you have).

After your meager meals you want to relax. OK: How about that life on the couch?

You would not be able to relax and watch your favorite movies, television shows, sporting events, etc. You might be able to pull in some local radio, but even that is very dependent on satellite technology. And forget the inter-tubes for entertainment. Ain’t happ’nin’ at home any more than at work.

Modern life pretty thoroughly disrupted if not brought to a grinding halt. A good reason to think seriously about space defense. Clearly the most obvious aspect of this talk is to show how vulnerable that space based technology is to deliberate attack. But, it is also vulnerable to debilitating collisions with space junk.

Even flecks of paint from old space shuttle missions, whizzing about in orbit along with bigger chunks of space junk can damage or destroy satellites, due to the fact that they are moving at very high velocities. A lot of effort goes into tracking all the bits of junk, paint, etc., orbiting Earth, in order to avoid such calamity.

So, we have a great interest in securing space based technology, and should focus funding and efforts in that direction. That is the gist of the message in this talk, along with a nod to privatization of this business as the best way to go forward, moving on from the NASA centric ways of our past.

All that, and space based tungsten rods.

Better than lasers on sharks, man.


Rods that can be deployed, and used as missiles, apparently, with impacts the strength of nuclear explosions minus the radiation (provided the rods are large enough). So called “kinetic bombardment.”

The destructive energy comes from the velocity of impact. Tungsten Tunguska times two. Hey, if high speed flakes of paint are that dangerous, those rods, raining from the heavens..

Duck and Cover!