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If China's weapon is going to pose a collateral danger such as this, the international community must take steps to neutralize the problem.
China has shown it can destroy a satellite in orbit. What could the U.S. do to stop Beijing, if it decided to attack an American orbiter next? Short answer: nothing.
It takes about 20 minutes to fire a ballistic missile into space, and have its "kill vehicle" strike a satellite at hypersonic speed -- over 15,000 miles per hour -- in low-earth orbit. That's far too quick for anything in the American arsenal to respond, in time. There's "no possibility of shielding" a relatively-fragile satellite against such a strike. "And it is impractical [for a satellite] to carry enough fuel to maneuver away even if you had specific and timely warning of an attack," Center for Defense Information analyst Theresea Hitchens notes.
The Chinese trial could "lead to nearly 800 debris fragments of size 10 cm or larger, nearly 40,000 debris fragments with size between 1 and 10 cm, and roughly 2 million fragments of size 1 mm or larger," the Union of Concerned Scientists' David Wright notes on the Arms Control Wonk blog. "Roughly half of the debris fragments with size 1 cm or larger would stay in orbit for more than a decade."
A 1mm metal chip could do as much damage as a .22-caliber long rifle bullet
Bits this size don't generally pose a large threat to spacecraft, but can erode more sensitive surfaces and disrupt missions.
A pea-sized ball moving this fast is as dangerous as a 400-lb safe travelling at 60 mph
Debris this large may penetrate a spacecraft. If this happens through a critical component, such as the flight computer or propellant tank, this could be fatal.
A metal sphere the size of a tennis ball is as lethal as 25 sticks of dynamite
This debris will penetrate and seriously damage a spacecraft.
The Chinese test, now confirmed by the National Security Council, would be the first successful anti-satellite weapons trial since 1985, when the United States used an F-15 and a kill vehicle to destroy the Solwind research satellite. And that trial was dangerous -- not just for its target, but for nearly everything orbiting in space, Hitchens notes. Even small pieces of space debris can be lethal to spacecraft. The '85 test "resulted in more than 250 pieces of debris, the last of which deorbited in 2002."
Originally posted by DYepes
I dont see how 525 baseballs can make a threatening ring around tens of thousands of miles of space. How long would it take before alot of it just falls into the atmosphere and burn up?