CHINA SHOOTS DOWN ORBITING SATELLITE
Tony Snow of the White House, made the understatement of the year when he said "we are concerned about it, and we've made it known." The U.S., as usual, made only a few comments. The missile was launched by China's Central Military Command in Beijing. The New York Times reported that the U.S. has a number of low-orbit military satellites in space, used for communications and for navigation of "smart bombs." U.S. officials said the Chinese missile reached as high as some of those satellite's orbit. It was the first time in history that a missile launched from the ground destroyed an orbiting satellite. China's work on an anti-satellite system has been known by the U.S. Last August, China fired high-power lasers briefly blinding U.S. spy satellites orbiting over its territory. The significance of these events show that China is ahead of the U.S. in technology, as they expand their military presence. The U.S. must realize the consequences if China shot down all of our satellites. The average American does not realize what part our Global Positioning System plays on our very existence. If such an event did occur the U.S. would be hard pressed to offer any resistance to an attack. The purpose of this story is to disclose the areas that would be damaged by such an attack.
What is GPS?
The GPS receiver calculates its position by measuring the distance between itself and 3 or more GPS satellites. The time delay between transmission and reception of each GPS radio signal gives the distance to each satellite. By determining the position of and distance to at least 3 satellites, the receiver can compute its position using trilateration. The satellites are orbiting the earth about 12,000 miles above us. They are constantly moving, making two complete orbits in less than 24 hours. The satellites are traveling roughly 7,000 mph. Satellites are powered by solar energy. They have backup batteries onboard when no solar power is available, such as a solar eclipse. Small rocket boosters keep them flying in the correct path.
It will not be difficult to show the importance of this system in every aspect of our
life. Our Army, Navy, and Air Force utilize GPS as an absolute necessity. Our worry over increasing military
buildup in Korea, Iran, and now China is genuine. Remember when our U2 was making repeated flights over
Russia ? Our government was not concerned because "They fly so high no missile can reach it."