Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thank You, Ronnie!

Here's a nice short clip of our wayward satellite being blasted to smithereens by an Aegis-fired missile.

This technology is, of course, an offshoot of Reagan's much-maligned "star wars" anti-missile defense system initiative. Some of that criticism sounded pretty good for a while as dismal hit records were amassed during system tests -- but that's the nature of discovery: We need the failures to figure out the right way to do things.

But the critics never shut up, as detailed by Gizmodo (which also has a longer and very interesting video clip):
Some experts criticized the plan as probable failure during the past days, with the argument that the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, part of the Ballistic Missile Defense System being developed by the US Missile Defense Agency, wasn't designed to do this and, therefore, it wasn't going to be able to hit the target and destroy it effectively.

Their reasons were three: first, the kinetic warhead, launched in a long range standard missile, [...] isn't designed to destroy targets by explosion but by the sheer force of multiple impacts. While this is enough to destroy other incoming missiles, the critics said that this wasn't going to be enough to destroy the much larger satellite. Second was the speed of the target, which was traveling at double the speed of the missiles which are the usual target of the Aegis. And third, the tracking system, which wasn't originally designed to operate in high orbits.

Blah, blah, blah ... kaboom! So much for the nay-sayers.

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