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Published: 1 September 2009
Air & Space Power JournalFall 2009

Recent US and Chinese Antisatellite Activities

Lt Col James Mackey, USAF

Recent antisatellite (ASAT) activities by the United States and China have   revived questions regarding space warfare, the follow-on effects of potential   satellite destruction on a massive scale, national accountability, and   technological challenges to mitigate offensive threats. Many of these same   questions, which emerged during the initial space race and Cold War, have taken   on new emphasis in light of growing multinational dependence upon satellites and   the freedom to access space. This article briefly reviews the history of US and   Soviet ASAT capabilities and testing during the Cold War, examines the recent   Chinese shoot-down of its failed Feng Yun-1C satellite and the US shoot-down of   the failed USA-193 satellite, and compares and contrasts these two ASAT   missions, highlighting the follow-on threats to other nations’ satellites. It   also presents mitigating strategies that may lessen the threat of future   offensive countersatellite operations, including enhanced situational awareness,   improved survivability/reduced vulnerability, and increased sustainability; it   then offers a brief look at countries capable of offensive countersatellite   operations.

Military Antisatellite Programs during the Cold War

A military presence has accompanied human activity in space from its   inception. Nevertheless, despite the intense rivalry between the United States   and Soviet Union during the Cold War, space remained a weapons-free region and   continues to do so. The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States   in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other   Celestial Bodies, often called the Outer Space Treaty, put into effect 10   October 1967, codified this concept by calling on the 91 signatories “to refrain   from placing in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or   any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction or from installing such weapons   on celestial bodies.”1 One possible intent of the treaty was to dissuade an   arms race in space.

During the Cold War, as satellites grew in importance, each side sought the   means of depriving the other the use of satellites if doing so became prudent.   The United States conducted research into six major ASAT programs, the most   significant of which included a satellite interceptor, later renamed satellite   inspector; an aircraft-launched two-stage interceptor missile; a Navy sea-based   interceptor missile; and an Army ground-based interceptor missile.2 Many of the   early systems relied on nuclear warheads or those with very high explosive yield   due to the inherent inability to precisely target satellites moving at high   relative speeds. Other means for attacking enemy satellites included kinetic   kills; destruction of ground-based radar and command, control, and   communications facilities; and jamming of communications links.

As the threat of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles began to grow,   Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara approved the testing of an antiballistic   missile system based on the Nike-Zeus rocket (known as Program 505) as an ASAT   system limited to a maximum altitude of 200 miles.3 Following promising results,   the Air Force solicited a more robust capability (known as Program 437) based   upon the Thor intermediate-range ballistic missile, armed with a one-megaton   nuclear warhead and providing a range of 700 miles with a kill radius of five   miles in orbit. Testing of Program 437 began in February 1964 and terminated on   1 April 1975.4

Launching from combat aircraft would offer a more flexible ASAT capability.   Attempts to employ aircraftborne ASAT missiles began in the late 1950s,   highlighted by the launch of a Bold Orion missile from a B-47 bomber. Pres.   Gerald R. Ford’s directive of 1975 allowed exploration of air-launched ASAT   missiles, resulting in creation of an ASAT program that year which employed a   modified standard antiradiation homing missile fired from an F-15 fighter. This   system represented a significant improvement over earlier ones insofar as it   employed a kinetic-kill minivehicle to directly impact the targeted satellite   versus an area weapon such as nuclear or high-explosive warheads. On 13   September 1985, a “full-up” test resulted in the destruction of the P78-1   Solwind satellite, but in 1988 Congress canceled the program.5 Further US ASAT   tests focused on denial of use rather than absolute destruction of enemy   satellites, as in a 1997 test in which a laser temporarily blinded an Air Force   MSTI-3 satellite at 300 miles altitude.6

The Chinese
Antisatellite Program

China’s military has undergone tremendous change over the last 15–20 years,   accelerating the pace over the last 10 years in a quest to revolutionize its   military forces by reducing personnel numbers and focusing on a massive   modernization program that emphasizes quality over quantity. Current military   theory in China is partially based on capitalizing on its own resources to   mitigate the advantages of potential high-technology opponents. This thinking is   evident in China’s self-described “Assassin’s Mace” programs, a war-fighting   strategy of the People’s Liberation Army designed to give a technologically   inferior military advantages over technologically superior adversaries and thus   change the direction of a war.7

Although China has not published an official document on space warfare, it is   incorporating space-based support systems into all aspects of its military   operations. This tactic includes denying adversaries the use of their   space-based systems through kinetic-kill capabilities, jamming, and blinding.   China continues to build up its organic space-based systems, seeking to develop   into a modern military power capable of force projection and high-intensity   military operations.8 China pursues research into other nonkinetic weapons for   use in satellite targeting, including high-powered lasers, microwaves, particle   beams, and electromagnetic-pulse devices, all intended to render enemy   satellites inoperable without the debris field associated with kinetic-killing   weapons.9 Investment in such weapons technology fits China’s asymmetric approach   and desire to provide a credible threat. In Joint Space War Campaigns,    Col Yuan Zelu loudly echoes this approach, declaring that the “goal of a space   shock and awe strike is to deter the enemy, not to provoke the enemy into   combat.”10

On 11 January 2007, China became the third known country with a proven ASAT   capability when it conducted an unannounced launch of a Deng Fong-21/ Kai Tuo   Zhe-1 (DF-21/KT-1) against its own defunct Feng Yun-1C meteorology satellite.11   This event confirmed intelligence estimates of Chinese ASAT developments. Given   the secretive nature of the Chinese government, most of the details remain  hidden from the public, with most of what is known based upon observation and   established Chinese capabilities. (This article draws upon publicly available   sources for its references to technical data and capabilities.)

The Chinese launched the Feng Yun-1C (“Feng Yun” is Chinese for “wind and   cloud”), a polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, on 10 May 1999 from the   Taiyuan Launch Complex, located in Shanxi province. Since 1985 that complex has   served as a launch point for polar-orbiting satellites, primarily of the Earth   monitoring, science, and meteorological type.12 Feng Yun-1C was in   sun-synchronous orbit ranging between 845 and 865 kilometers above Earth, with   an inclination of approximately 99 degrees.13 Comparable American satellites   include the defense meteorological satellites and the National Oceanic and   Atmospheric Administration’s polar-orbiting satellites.

A kinetic-kill vehicle launched by a modified DF-21 intermediate-range   ballistic missile known as the KT-1 space-launch vehicle, in essence a modified   DF-21, destroyed Feng Yun-1C.14 The exact technical characteristics and specific   capabilities of the missile are not publicly known and are probably unique.   Expert review of available information and testimony from civilian monitors and   modelers indicate that the missile carried a kinetic-kill vehicle of   approximately 600 kilograms.

A simplistic evaluation of the kinetic energy provides some insight into the   level of effectiveness of the kill. Given the mass of the Feng Yun-1C at 880   kilograms, an estimated kinetic-kill-vehicle mass of 600 kilograms and closure   speed of 32,400 kilometers per hour yield a maximum kinetic energy of   approximately 40.9 gigajoules. To put this into perspective, one ton of standard   TNT explosives yields approximately 4.184 gigajoules of kinetic energy. Thus,   the combined kinetic energy of the satellite and interceptor amounts to   approximately nine times the explosive yield of one ton of TNT.

The world will continue to feel the consequences of this action for decades.   Specifically, the intercept produced a massive debris field estimated at 20,000   to 40,000 fragments, each of them one centimeter or greater in size.15 This   single event resulted in a 20 percent increase in the number of trackable   objects in low Earth orbit (LEO). Because the interception was coplanar, much of   the debris field resides in close proximity to the original altitude of the Feng   Yun-1C at the time of the interception; however, some fragments may be as high   as 3,500 kilometers in orbit.16

These fragments pose a significant threat to satellites from many nations. A   review of the database maintained by the Union of Concerned Scientists indicates   well over 50 satellites in LEO near the altitude of the debris field from Feng   Yun-1C. A further review reveals 16 satellites with an apogee/perigee within 825   to 900 kilometers and an inclination angle of 98 to 99 degrees (table 1).

Table 1. Threatened satellites
Source: “UCS Satellite Database,” Union of Concerned Scientists, 6 October 2008, _and_global_security/space_weapons/technical_issues/ucs-satellite-database.html.

The threat from the debris is not limited to any single satellite. With   velocities in the range of eight kilometers per second, debris colliding with   any of these 16 satellites could have a dramatic cascading effect, leading to   uncontrollable and/or inoperable satellites threatening other satellites in   nearby orbits and dramatically increasing the amount of hazardous debris in LEO,   as recently occurred with the collision between Iridium and Russian military   satellites. Additionally, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ satellite database   lists a number of satellites that pass through the debris field’s altitude   during their Molnyia (highly elliptical) orbits. Given the nature of such orbits   and the associated increase in speed while at perigee, these satellites would   hit the debris at a higher speed, with catastrophic results. Under the   Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, China   may be accountable if such an incident were to occur.17

China’s ability to strike a relatively small satellite with a kinetic-kill   vehicle at a significant altitude clearly demonstrates technological prowess.   What could motivate such a dramatic action? Kenneth S. Blazejewski proposes   several possible interpretations of Chinese space-weapons activity. First, it   signals a strong concern regarding the United States’ continuing development of   a ballistic missile defense shield and that country’s possible weaponization of   space. He points to the leveraging effect that such a system could impose on   Chinese missiles in the event of an attack on Taiwan. Blazejewski further states   that such an obvious ASAT test, in Chinese eyes, could lead to a negotiation to   deweaponize space. Alternatively, as James Oberg stipulates, destruction of the   Feng Yun might encourage the US Congress to sign a treaty banning the use of   ASAT weapons, which would clearly follow Chinese strategy of employing an   asymmetric approach to negate a US advantage.18 Second, according to   Blazejewski, China may perceive that the United States seeks to deny it the use   of space and is therefore pursuing ASAT capabilities to meet that challenge.   Third, he suggests that China simply seeks to establish parity with US and   Russian ASAT capabilities.19

US Destruction of USA-193

In January 2008, the United States began public planning for a similar ASAT   test that would target a failing National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite   (USA-193). (See table 2 for a comparison of this satellite and the Feng Yun-1C.)   Conducted under the auspices of the Missile Defense Agency, the test used   readily available systems, modified in rapid fashion to provide a seaborne   ­satellite-intercept capability. The more open nature of American society, the   preannounced intentions of this ASAT test, and the media focus made a good bit   of information available; however, many details remain classified.

Table 2. Satellite comparison
Source: “FY-1,” Encyclopedia Astronautica, (accessed 11 November 2008); and David A. Fulghum and Amy Butler, “U.S. to Shoot Down Satellite,” Aviation Week, 17 February 2008, generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/aw021808p2.xml&headline= U.S.%20To%20Shoot%20Down%20Satellite (accessed 30 October 2008).

The Air Force launched NRO satellite USA-193 on 14 December 2008 from    Vandenberg AFB, California. The 21st in the NRO series and most likely carrying   very-high-resolution photo-imaging systems, the satellite failed after one day   in a deteriorating polar orbit ranging between 257 and 242 kilometers. Because   the satellite retained a significant amount of hydrazine fuel—a highly reactive   and toxic chemical, exposure to which can be extremely hazardous—that could   possibly survive reentry, the US government announced that it would shoot down   the 2,450-kilogram USA-193, destroying the hydrazine fuel tank in the process,   before it could plummet to Earth and possibly cause fatalities.20

After finalizing the decision to conduct the shoot-down, senior leadership   within the Department of Defense debated about which agency within the   department could best carry out the ASAT mission. The Missile Defense Agency’s   expertise and previous experience made it the logical choice. That agency’s   senior leadership concluded that the test community within the organization had   the disciplined approach necessary to conduct such an operation.21 Because the   primary aiming point was the main hydrazine tank, which weighed 450 kilograms,   targeting of USA-193 would center on that portion of the satellite.22

The intercept would employ a modified Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) fired from   the Aegis-system-equipped USS Lake Erie,    one of three such cruisers in the US Navy that carry the SM-3 and part of the   sea-based Aegis ballistic missile defense system.23 These warships are designed   to provide midcourse-intercept capabilities against short- and   intermediate-range ballistic missiles.24

The SM-3’s kinetic warhead, which uses a high-resolution long-wave-infrared   sensor for target detection, is vectored into intercept by the Solid Divert and   Altitude Control System.25 The warhead incorporates advances from earlier   designs, including a large-aperture field of view that enables target   acquisition at 300 kilometers. Additionally, data-stream encryption ensures   secure communications and telemetry supporting confirmation of missile   performance.26

For the shoot-down of USA-193, modifications to the USS Lake Erie’s    systems included the AN/SPY-1 radar system and SM-3 missiles, the former tasked   to report the satellite as engageable, identify it as a valid target, determine   intercept points, and provide revised aiming-point information.27 In an effort   to maximize successful target engagement, the Missile Defense Agency’s team   augmented Aegis tracking by integrating data from the US space-surveillance   network, including X-band radars and other Aegis radar systems. Tracking data   from these sources enhanced situational awareness, provided precision data, and   created a real-time, accurate track-enabling computation of a firing solution.28

Tremendous political pressure sought to ensure that the mission went as   projected during planning for the shoot-down, a significant portion of that   pressure focusing on minimizing the debris field since the US intercept would   yield a kinetic energy greater than that for the Chinese intercept. (The mass of   USA-193, estimated as 2,450 kilograms, combined with a closure speed of   intercept of 28,000 kilometers per hour yields a maximum estimated kinetic   energy of 74.2 gigajoules—approximately 17 times greater than the explosive   yield of one ton of TNT.) Meaningful debate within the team emphasized limiting  any possible secondary effects following a successful intercept (e.g., an   errant, dysfunctional satellite or an underforecasted debris field). Therefore,   the team included a plan to mitigate these factors by taking such actions as   conducting the shot when the sun angle would maximize optical tracking. The   shoot-down of USA-193, which included each military service, offered a good   indication of the level of jointness within the Department of Defense.29


Both the American and Chinese ASAT missions relied upon kinetic-kill   vehicles. The absence of either a conventional or nuclear warhead reflects the   significantly improved accuracy and precision of today’s systems compared to   those proposed in the early part of the Cold War. The use of a kinetic kill   mitigates the danger of damage to friendly satellites caused by electromagnetic   pulse—a crucial difference, given the fact that we have many more satellites   today than we did 30 years ago. Other similarities between the ASAT tests   include the use of solid-fueled boosters and mobile launch platforms. (Although   capable of mobile launch, the Chinese mission probably launched from a fixed   position.)

Several notable differences distinguished the ASAT missions as well—for   example, the altitudes of the satellites. Only a few days away from reentry into   the atmosphere and potential impact with the surface, USA-193 orbited at a   relatively low 247 kilometers at the time of its destruction, whereas Feng   Yun-1C orbited at the significantly higher altitude of 864 kilometers. This   617-kilometer difference is important because of the time that the residual   debris field will remain in orbit, posing a threat to other satellites.   According to Geoffrey Forden, even residual segments from the USA-193 intercept   that acquired a greater speed due to the collision will have an orbital perigee   of 210 kilometers and should degrade in altitude, burning up in reentry far more   rapidly than the remnants of Feng Yun-1C.30 Estimates for the debris from   USA-193 indicate no remaining pieces in orbit after 40 days; meanwhile, modeling   suggests that debris from Feng Yun may stay in orbit for up to 100 years.31

In an interview prior to the USA-193 shoot-down, Gen James Cartwright (USMC),   vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, avowed that the US test launch   differed from the Chinese launch, pointing out that the United States was   providing the world advance notification of its launch and that the US intercept   would occur at a very low orbital altitude to assure that no residual debris   remained in long-term orbit.32 This difference in altitude also drove the size   of the launch vehicle. Given the estimated six times greater mass of the Chinese   kinetic-kill vehicle and the higher altitude, the DF-21/KT-1 had a launch mass   20 times greater than that of the SM-3. Furthermore, the US missile relied upon   the global positioning system (GPS) and inertial navigation system with radar   guidance, whereas the DF-21/KT-1 employed an inertial navigation system with   terminal radar guidance (table 3).

Table 3. Comparison of missile-intercept systems
Source: Geoff Forden, “A Preliminary Analysis of the Chinese ASAT Test,” 9, Preliminary%20Analysis%20of%20the%20Chinese%20ASAT%20Test%20handout.pdf (accessed 1 November 2008); and Geoffrey Forden, “A Preliminary Analysis of the USA-193 Shoot-Down,” 12 March 2008, stgs/pdfs/Forden_Preliminary_analysis_USA_193_Shoot_down.pdf (accessed 14 November 2008).

Mitigating the
Antisatellite Threat

During a speech at the 2007 Air Warfare Symposium, Secretary of the Air Force   Michael Wynne stated that “space is no longer a sanctuary.”33 These remarks   underscored the fact that China had demonstrated its ability to strike US   satellites and that several other countries possessed or were seeking similar   capabilities. In light of the potential threat posed by ASAT systems, how can   the United States mitigate or reduce it? In his paper Does the United States   Need Space-Based Weapons? Maj William L. Spacy gives   some indication of how such counter-ASAT systems might work, highlighting three   potential methods: bodyguard satellites, ground-based directed-energy weapons,   and space-based anti-ASAT missiles.34

Assigned to high-value satellites, bodyguard satellites would place  themselves between the protected satellite and the attacking weapon system, thus   performing much the same service for other satellites as fighter escorts did for   bombers in World War II (i.e., providing both active and passive defense).35   Bodyguard satellites would need some autonomy in order to discern when an attack   is imminent and take protective measures to maneuver into the correct position.   Ground-based directed-energy weapons could intercept attacking direct-ascent,   kinetic-energy weapons/missiles, rendering them ineffective prior to their   reaching friendly satellites. Due to their fixed position on the planet, these   counter-ASAT weapons would have an inherently limited line-of-sight striking   range. However, by possessing nearly instantaneous striking capability, they   would prove very timely if called upon. Lastly, space-based anti-ASAT platforms   or kinetic-kill systems, more technologically feasible than surface-based   directed-energy weapons, would intercept an attacking ASAT system and destroy it   prior to its reaching the targeted satellite.

Methods for improving satellites’ chances of surviving both natural and   man-made hazards include the ability to track threats, add redundancy, and   develop serviceable systems.36 Enhancing the United States’ ability to track   satellites and significant debris represents the first step in avoiding dangers.   Extended maneuver capacity coupled with sensors capable of detecting approaching   hostile bodies will enable critical satellites to evade attacking bodies or   debris fields; therefore, designs for such satellites should include robust and   sustainable thrust capability.

Moreover, building such satellites with separate, redundant systems would   increase their ability to function after attack. A similar and potentially more   resilient approach involves the use of clustered satellite constellations, which   could be widely dispersed or could orbit in close proximity.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently proposed designing and   fielding satellites that are serviceable while in orbit. In March 2007, the   agency launched Orbital Express—an advanced technology demonstration system   consisting of the Autonomous Space Transport Robotic Operations (ASTRO)   prototype servicing satellite and the NextSat, a serviceable next-generation   satellite designed to serve as a surrogate to ASTRO. Equipped with a robotic   arm, ASTRO is designed to evaluate the feasibility of autonomously refueling   satellites and robotically changing their components in orbit.37 Successful   testing of Orbital Express will decrease current service-life restrictions on   satellites based on fuel availability. In addition, the ability to replace   components will enable a return to service for satellites damaged by hostile   action.

Other means of protecting satellites include enhanced situational awareness,   employment of stealth/radar-absorbing technologies, and better design   techniques.38 Differentiating between man-made and natural threats, such as   purposeful directed-energy attacks and secondary effects from solar storms, is   crucial in ascertaining whether an actual attack is in progress. Additionally,   if a hostile force attacks a satellite, determining the source of the attack and   taking evasive action or counterattacking are time critical. Multiple satellites   working in concert to determine the source and nature of any satellite attack   will provide operators the level of enhanced awareness to enable decision makers   to act quickly and appropriately in response to threats.39

Given the costs of launching satellites into orbit, present satellite design   has focused on squeezing the most utility out of each kilogram, and very little   thought has gone into applying stealth technologies to satellites. Exploiting   current radar—absorbing technology by incorporating such materials onto   sensitive satellites could produce a successful passive defense. Research into   active “cloaking” technologies shows promise in hiding satellites—enabling them to better blend into their background. Integration of these technologies into   smaller satellites would decrease their vulnerability by making them harder to   detect and strike.

Yet another means of increasing the survivability of satellites involves   using appropriate geometry in design efforts—applying the proper shaping to   diminish exposed satellite surfaces. Reducing the effective head-on surface area   would lessen the probability of penetration; moreover, it would serve as a   deflecting mechanism, similar to techniques used in the design of main battle   tanks.

Any nation with the space-lift capability to place the necessary payload into   LEO could theoretically field a rudimentary ASAT program based upon   high-­explosive warheads or small nuclear warheads. The dual use of civilian and   military rockets being developed and placed into operation by several countries   (e.g., Israel, Iran, North Korea, and India) opens the door to rapid growth in   the number of potential players in the weaponization of space.

Primary among the Asian countries is China, a proven player in the ASAT   arena. China’s growing manned space program—witness its recent success with the Shenzhou spacecraft—reflects its confidence and technological capabilities.40 The pursuit   of Chinese unmanned lunar missions, constellations of communications satellites,   and plans for a navigational satellite constellation offer further evidence of a   developing command and control capability. This series of successes and   technological advances fires a sense of national pride and a desire to assert a   Chinese presence in space. As China’s dependence on satellites grows, so will   its vulnerability, forcing senior leaders to pursue a more robust ASAT   capability or abandon such efforts entirely. The latter seems unlikely since   China considers space one of its five warfare domains.41

Second to China in Asian space capability is Japan. Though not a   nuclear-armed country, Japan has a demonstrated ability to launch satellites and   the technological means to field a viable interceptor. In 2007 that country also   launched Kaguya,   its first lunar probe, using its self-produced H-2A rocket, which has lifted   payloads weighing over four tons and has placed satellites into orbits well   beyond LEO.42

In addition, Japan is a primary partner in the development of the SM-3/Aegis   system. It has cooperated recently with the US Missile Defense Agency to design   and test the advanced nose cone for the antiballistic missile. The Japanese   Defense Force has fielded the SM-3 on its Kongo-class   warships and has purchased Patriot Advanced Capablity-3 antiballistic missiles   for stationing on the home islands.43 Clearly, Japan has the technical expertise   and operational experience to quickly implement an ASAT system.

India, another country with a growing organic space-launch capability, so far   has launched 10 satellites with its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and seeks to   produce its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle by 2012. This will give   India the capacity to place 3.5-ton payloads into geosynchronous orbit.44 India   also possesses nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, giving it a de facto ASAT   capability. Considering India’s rivalry with China and the latter’s growing use   of satellites, ASAT capabilities may suit Indian strategy. Other Asian countries   pursuing space-lift capabilities include, primarily, South Korea, as well as   Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan.45


The Cold War saw the development, testing, and fielding of rudimentary ASAT   capabilities, leading to the cementing of a space policy in treaties and   agreements that forbade weapons of mass destruction. With its growing economic   power and force modernization (including doctrinal changes), China has sought to   leverage asymmetrical means of military power projection, including depriving   technology-dependent military forces the use of satellites. China clearly   demonstrated this asymmetrical capability when it shot down the Feng Yun-1C   satellite. Is it possible that the recent Chinese and American ASAT missions   mark the beginning of a second space race, this time with a more sinister and   destructive component? As more nations join the ranks of the ASAT-capable   countries, survivability must be designed into those satellites critical to   national security. Designing and building satellites for the future can be   accomplished only through a robust test and development program, with emphasis   on reducing vulnerability.

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1. United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Treaty on Principles   Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space,   including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, 10 October 1967,   (accessed 24 March 2009).

2. Michael R. Mantz, The New Sword: A Theory of   Space Combat Power, research report no. AU-ARI-94-6   (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, May 1995), 99.

3. Curtis Peebles, High Frontier: The U.S. Air Force and the Military Space Program (Washington, DC: Air Force History and Museums Program, 1997), 60.

4. Ibid.,   61–65.

5. Ibid., 65–67.

6. Benjamin S. Lambeth, Mastering the Ultimate   High Ground: Next Steps in the Military Uses of Space (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2003), 102, /MR1649/index.html.

7. Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Power of the   People’s Republic of China 2008: A Report to Congress pursuant to the National   Defense Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2000 (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2008), Military_Report_08.pdf (accessed 2 November 2008).

8. Ibid., 19.

9. Ibid.,  21.

10. Ibid.,  28.

11. Kelly Young, “Anti-Satellite Test Generates Dangerous Space Debris,” New Scientist,   20 January 2007, (accessed 1 November 2008).

12. “Taiyuan,” Encyclopedia Astronautica,   (accessed 11 November 2008).

13. “FY-1,” Encyclopedia Astronautica,   (accessed 11 November 2008).

14. “Anti-Satellite Kill Vehicle,”, (accessed 10 November 2008).

15. Young, “Anti-Satellite Test.”

16. Geoff Forden, “A Preliminary Analysis of the Chinese ASAT Test,” 9, Preliminary%20Analysis%20of%20the%20Chinese%20ASAT%20Test%20handout.pdf   (accessed 1 November 2008).

17. Federal Aviation Administration, Convention on International Liability   for Damage Caused by Space Objects, Damage.pdf (accessed 5 March 2009).

18. James Oberg, “Bold Move Escalates Space War Debate,”,   18 January 2007, 2 November   2008).

19. Kenneth S. Blazejewski, “Space Weaponization and US-China Relations,” Strategic Studies   Quarterly 2, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 38–40,

20. David A. Fulghum and Amy Butler, “U.S. to Shoot Down Satellite,” Aviation Week,   17 February 2008, (accessed 30 October 2008).

21. Keith J. Kosan, briefing to 46th Operations Group, Eglin AFB, FL,   subject: Satellite Intercept, 11 September 2008.

22. Missile Defense Agency, “BMDS a Global Integrated Sensor Network   (08-MDA-3778)” (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 22 August 2008).

23. Missile Defense Agency, “BMDS Booklet: Missile Defense Worldwide,” 5th   ed. (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2008), 17.

24. Ibid.

25. Raytheon Company, “Standard Missile 3: Missile Defense from the Sea”   (Tucson, AZ: Raytheon, 2008), 5.

26. “RIM-161 SM-3 (Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense),”, space/systems/sm3.htm (accessed 17 November 2008).

27. Missile Defense Agency, “BMDS a Global Integrated Sensor Network,” 8.

28. Ibid., 9.

29. Keith J. Kosan, formerly of the US Missile Defense Agency, interview by   the author, Eglin AFB, FL, 12 December 2008.

30. Geoffrey Forden, “A Preliminary Analysis of the USA-193 Shoot-Down,” 12   March 2008, http://mit
.edu/stgs/pdfs/Forden_Preliminary_analysis_USA_193_Shoot_down.pdf (accessed 14 November 2008).

31. Ibid.

32. Fulghum and Butler, “U.S. to Shoot Down Satellite.”

33. Mathias Kolleck, “Space Survivability—Time to Get Serious,” Aircraft Survivability,   Summer 2008, 7,

34. Maj William L. Spacy II, Does the United States   Need Space-Based Weapons? CADRE Paper no. 4 (Maxwell   AFB, AL: Air University Press, September 1999), 33, 37, /author _ndx_cadre.htm#S.

35. Kolleck, “Space Survivability,” 8.

36. Ibid., 7.

37. Ibid., 8.

38. Ibid., 8–9.

39. Ibid., 8.

40. Trefor Moss, “Briefing: The Asian Space Race,” Jane’s Defence Weekly 45, no. 44 (29 October 2008): 27.

41. Ibid., 28.

42. “H-IIA Launch Vehicle,” Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, design_e.html   (accessed 17 November 2008).

43. “Japan Defense Focus,” no. 11, Japan Ministry of Defense,   (accessed 20 February 2009).

44. Moss, “Briefing,” 27.

45. Ibid., 26–27.


Lt Col James Mackey Lieutenant Colonel Mackey Lt Col James Mackey Lieutenant Colonel Mackey (BS, Birmingham-Southern College; MS, Air Force Institute of Technology) is a deputy group commander at Eglin AFB, Florida. He received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps in June 1990 and completed an Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) basic meteorology program at Florida State University. He served with the 97th Air Mobility Wing and deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In 1994 he was assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, attached to the 3d Cavalry. In 1996 he attended AFIT at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Following completion of his studies at AFIT, he served with the 334th Training Squadron at Keesler AFB, Mississippi. From January through July 2000, he served as a UN military observer in Africa. He later commanded a detachment in Germany and deployed with the US Army’s V Corps. In June 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Mackey served as a squadron operations officer, transitioning to his current position in July 2007.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the   author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air   University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government,   Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University

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