Monday, February 25, 2008

We actually shot a satellite out of the sky?

Listen, I've always had all the respect in the world for the United States when it comes to science and military operations. Part of that I'm sure comes from a "home field" bias, a standard feeling of patriotism, but I've always felt pretty confident in the ability of Americans to execute plans.

But I've got to say, this business about the satellite has got me really wowed about where we are scientifically. Word is, we've successfully targeted and destroyed the fuel tank on the satellite, which had posed something of a threat to life were it to come crashing down to Earth. Now, granted, these satellites are pretty large, but the main body of the device was a paltry 15 feet long. This object, with a decaying orbit, was targeted by an SM-3 missile and, according to all reports thus far, successfully destroyed to the point that the debris poses no immediate threat.

If it were a stationary object, it'd be pretty impressive to hit the fuel component squarely from hundreds of miles away. But we're talking about shooting a moving satellite out of the sky whose orbit is decaying. Out of the sky! Do you know how ridiculously large the sky is?

Alright, that's enough gushing for now, especially since there's still a chance that the mission was a failure. But it looks good, and I think that speaks volumes towards what science can accomplish. So be nice to your local nerds; they may be able to pinpoint your bedroom from a missile silo.

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