Outside editorials: Anti-satellite weapon a threat to the heavens

Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The following editorial first appeared in the Kansas City Star:

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Chinese officials waited nearly two weeks before acknowledging the recent test of an anti-satellite weapon. The delay raises concerns about Beijing's motives and Washington should make it clear the test has undermined U.S.-China relations.

The Jan. 11 incident was a wake-up call for Washington. The Bush administration should quickly assess the range of potential threats to America's satellites, essential for communication and civilian navigation, and critical for the military's precision-guided weapons.

The Chinese anti-satellite vehicle tracked an old Chinese weather satellite and destroyed it by impact - an impressive display of technological sophistication.

The Soviet Union and the United States tested anti-satellite weapons in the 1980s but agreed to discontinue such efforts because the resulting space debris threatened space vehicles.

One expert estimates it will take 25 years for all the fragments created by the Chinese test to decay and burn up in the atmosphere.

The kind of anti-satellite weapon used by China could make space more dangerous for the Chinese as well as every other country.

A ban on these weapons is in the interests of everyone.

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