Monday, May 19, 2008

Why China tested antisatellite weapon

A veteran military space analyst, Joan Johnson-Freese of the U.S. Naval War College, thinks China screwed up in their recent ASAT test, and has now realized it. Essentially, the testing program got ahead of the diplomatic thinking, and the nation was surprised at the hostile reaction to its test. "I think they now are now recognizing that the international condemnation due them was actually moderated," she said.
COMMENT: If this article reports her testimony correctly, Johnson-Freeze said this is the outcome of a Chinese program started in response to the sole U.S. ASAT weapon live shot, which came way back during the Reagan Administration. That seems to me to be connecting two events so separated in time and in political/military context that the case for a causal connection is weak to nonexistant.

Johnson-Freese made a good point about the ballyhoo surrounding China's manned space accomplishments - they are important, but not significant enough to put China in a race with the U.S. She said, "Personally I hate to see the U.S. and China's space programs characterized as competitive. They fly two manned space flights over a five-year period and are perceived as beating the U.S. space program. That's just wrong."

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