US Downs Satellite, Awaits Fallout

Reuters reports on the Pentagon's announcementthat it successfully intercepted a failing spy satellite last night.There's no confirmation on whether its toxic fuel tank was destroyed,although an explosion upon the intercepting missile's impact indicatesthat it was. Also no word yet on the eventual groundfall of thematerial debris. Danger Room's Noah Shachtman has got a great rundown of the technical challengesof the operation, including the eyebrow-raising tidbit that the finalcommand for the intercept launch was given by Bob Gates himself. Talkabout a high-voltage video gaming experience.

WPR has been all over this story, with a solid piece on the diplomatic context of the intercept operation, as well as one on some of the strategic maneuvering that preceded it.Suffice it to say that for all the chatter about not interpreting thisas a test of space-based military capabilities, this was in essence atest of space-based military capabilities. Other factors might havemade this satellite a particularly worthy candidate for the exercise,but I don't think anyone (read: the Russians and Chinese) is beingduped here.

By coincidence, I just brought my son to an exhibiton the history of space exploration last weekend, where among otherthings we saw vintage replicas of the living rooms where people learnedof the breakthroughs of the space age: Moscow, circa 1961 and Sputnick,NY circa 1969 and the Apollo moon landing, etc. The way the exhibitrecreated the environments where people learned of these eventsreinforced how far we'd come, not just in terms of technology (therewas a reproduction of the tiny Sputnick 2 satellite, where Laika thespacedog became the first living creature to travel and cook to deathin space), but also in terms of diplomacy. It's hard to believe, but inforty years we went from the race to the moon, to the InternationalSpace Station.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article as well as three free articles per month. You'll also receive our free email newsletter to stay up to date on all our coverage:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review