Andy Lloyd – Satellite collision: another possibility?

A Russian and an American satellite have been in a mid-space collision, scattering debris across the paths of any number of other orbiting bodies, including the International Space Station.  It appears, on the face of it, to have been a low probability accident.  But it’s also odd that there was no warning of this issued by NORAD, which monitors the movement of all objects in orbit around the Earth.  On previous ocasions when there have been near-misses, such warnings have been issued.

Is something else going on here?  After reading the following extract from my new book ‘Ezekiel One’, you may agree.  The scene takes place in the office of an academic astronomer at Oxford University, named Dr Clarke.  He’s speaking with investigative journalist Bill Bainbridge, who it trying to break the secrecy surrounding the mysterious ‘Ezekiel One’:


“The astronomer sat back, and swung around in his chair to face Bill.  “You know, this is so weird.  Someone else out there must have spotted this anomaly.”


“But the satellite doesn’t appear on the official NORAD website, so how would anyone know how to track it?”


“I’m talking about astronomers like me, who build up our own map of the sky independently of NORAD and other official agencies.  There are colleagues out there who make a bit of a hobby of watching the super-secret satellites up there.  In case one of them, say, disappears, or falls out of its usual orbit.”


“Does that happen?”


“Oh, yes.”  Dr Clarke laughed gently, “Now I’m the one who sounds like a conspiracy nut!  Look, the Yanks have put up all sorts of hardware into space. So have the Russians, and the Europeans, and even the Chinese.  There are spy platforms.  Recently, there has been the emergence of a new class of satellites, what you might term killer satellites.  They’re capable of moving around using their own propulsion systems. 


“Every so often, they go on a hunt.  For instance, let’s say a foreign power puts up a satellite that hangs over a sensitive military establishment in the United States   The Americans might then take it upon themselves to dislodge it from its normally stable orbit into a decaying one.  All they have to do is give it a little nudge with one of their killer satellites, either by direct collision or through the use of a particle beam.    


“It’s likely that the other space powers do the same: Tit for Tat.  It’s like the old Cold War, only no one knows about it.  It’s beyond most people’s frame of reference, unless a civilian satellite gets accidentally taken out.  Or one of these decaying satellites makes it through the atmosphere and crashes to Earth.  When that happens the authorities blame a bad solar storm, or say that the satellite has decayed naturally into an unstable orbit and is going to fall to Earth.  What very few people realise is that the satellite has actually been attacked by a foreign power.”


“I had no idea.”


“Well, officially it doesn’t happen, of course. America controls the waves up there.  They are very interested in building up space-based anti-ballistic missile defences as a shield against nuclear attack. They’re not about to publicise their work. It might compromise their eventual goal of a shielded American continent.  The Chinese and the Russians have been working on the same idea.  If one of your own satellites gets hit you aren’t going to tell the world that it was taken out by the other side, are you?  It might expose your own activities up there, which are generally in contravention of various UN treaties.”


“Listening to you, it’s almost as if there’s a war going on up there!”  Bill was astonished.


“Well, I wouldn’t want to over-dramatize it. It’s more like the defence of territory, or creating protective borders in space above the Earth.  There are satellites whizzing around all over the place.  But if you stick a spy satellite in a geo-stationary orbit about sensitive military sites, it’s going to provoke a response, isn’t it?”


Extract from ‘Ezekiel One’, chapter 9, by Andy Lloyd,

~ by andylloyd on February 21, 2009.

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