back to article China sprayed space with 3,000 pieces of junk. US military officials want rules to stop that sort of thing

Tired of space junk and weapons, US military commanders presented to Congress on Wednesday an argument to create a framework for rules-based order in space. One reason for their call was that in January 2007 China demonstrated its ability to destroy a satellite in space when it shot a ballistic missile at one of its own …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    China does not care what the USA says

    They will only change if debris falls on Xi Jinping's head.

    1. Steve Kerr

      Re: China does not care what the USA says

      Or the debris they caused take out their own satellites

      1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

        Re: China does not care what the USA says

        "Or the debris they caused take out their own satellites"

        That won't bother them, they'll just launch more. They have the resources to replace them easily enough.

      2. NoneSuch Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: China does not care what the USA says

        A gentleman named Blofeld has a spacecraft to retrieve other nations wayward vehicles in orbit.

        After all. You Only Live Twice.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: China does not care what the USA says

      "They will only change if debris falls on Xi Jinping's head."

      I see Beijing is just about within reach of the the current bit of pending fallout. A touch of Karma is all that's needed.

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      I disagree

      They have as much need for everyone to get along in space and not threaten to militarize it. The US has the most to lose today, but China has its own GPS constellation they depend on, and their own communications and military satellites that are very important to their future goals. I imagine the US has some military satellites that may get up to no good at times so the US would have give up something here too.

      It is Russia that is the least likely to go along with this, or give it lip service and not follow the rules like they do elsewhere, because they are now a second rate power that can't compete with either the US or China on anything like a level playing field. They would depend on asymmetric warfare tactics like taking out the opponents satellites and not care if they created so much debris that space became hazardous for everyone, because that would bring the US and China closer to their level.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the resulting spray of junk makes comprises 3,000 trackable objects, ten percent of all space debris the US tracks"

    To be fair, I'd guess of the other 90%, NASA and the US are responsible for a hefty whack of it and have given little to no shit about it til now.

    And coincidentally, the US shot down a satellite the following year. For safety reasons you understand, not just to prove they could.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Er, no

      Actually, the remaining 90% is about 50:50 between Russia/USSR and the US, ESA has no real space presence, except scattering derbis all over Mars.

      1. David Harper 1

        Re: Er, no

        "ESA has no real space presence"

        Apart from ... Giotto (launched 1985, rendezvous with Halley's Comet), Huyghens (1997, landed on Saturn's moon Titan), Cluster (2000, exploring the Earth's space plasma environment), Bepicolombo (2018, Mercury orbiter), Hipparcos (1989, high-precision mapping of the positions of 100,000 stars), Gaia (2013, successor to Hipparcos, mapping the positions and motions of a billion stars, and thereby revolutionising our understanding of our galaxy), Rosetta (2004, another comet rendezvous mission), Ulysses (1990) and SOHO (1995), both observing the Sun from space ... and dozens of other missions, including Mars Express, a very successful Mars orbiter mission that was launched in 2003 and is still doing amazing science.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Er, no

          But just about none of that is in any orbit around Earth.

          1. renke

            Re: Er, no

            > But just about none of that is in any orbit around Earth.

            All the upper stages of the Ariane 5 are out there, with orbit times measured in decades - similar problem to the Chinese rocket: The thing wasn't designed with deorbit capabilities in mind.

            This paper describes the current state of the issue and ways to mitigate it.

    2. Bill Gray

      Yes, the US shot down a satellite. One at sufficiently low altitude that the resulting debris decayed quickly.

      There is a certain degree of stupidity involved in ASAT tests. The degree of stupidity involved in choosing one where the bits won't decay for decades or centuries boggles the mind. (The target was an obsolete Chinese weather satellite. They do have other junk in lower orbits.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Bill Gray - Something like

        the nuclear explosions ?

    3. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      F-15 Eagle shoots down satellite in 1985

      "On 13 September 1985, Maj. Wilbert D. "Doug" Pearson, flying the "Celestial Eagle" F-15A 76-0084 launched an ASM-135 ASAT about 200 miles (322 km) west of Vandenberg Air Force Base and destroyed the Solwind P78-1 satellite flying at an altitude of 345 miles (555 km)."

      From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASM-135_ASAT

      So the USAfolk have a bit of form in this respect, although I don't know how much debris is still around from that.

      Do these anti-satellite weapons actually hit the satellite, or shower the general area with shrapnel to bring them down to wreck them, like the Russian 'Buck' missile used to shoot down the airliner over Ukraine? If the shrapnel approach then that is itself a lot of very dangerous debris.

      Could they use a large, strong net to snag the satellite and just affect the orbit so that they fall out of the sky and burn up 'harmlessly' in the atmosphere instead?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: F-15 Eagle shoots down satellite in 1985

        Regarding how much debris remains from the US test, I suspect none. Stuff orbiting at 555 km tends to decay from orbit in just a few years.

        As for netting and dragging down a satellite, you probably don't need a very strong net. Depending on how quickly you wanted to destroy the satellite, a small but constant thrust would do it. Depending on the size of the satellite, you may need to have enough trust to ensure a safe splashdown (as China may be about to demonstrate).

        Even if the victim satellite had its own thrusters, the attack will force them to deplete fuel at a higher rate than planned. At some point, the victim literally runs out of gas.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: F-15 Eagle shoots down satellite in 1985

          I suspect you are correct regarding the debris from the 1985 event.

          I guess that a net with a weight attached could be used to spin an 'enemy' satellite to make it virtually useless for any practical purpose.

          Maybe I should have filed that as a patent before just blurting it out on a forum with literally tens of readers worldwide :o(

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: F-15 Eagle shoots down satellite in 1985

            You wouldn't even need a weight, just an opaque "blanket" covering most of the solar array would quickly render it useless. Something that weighed only a few ounces would probably be sufficient if you could devise a means to unfurl it properly.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: F-15 Eagle shoots down satellite in 1985

              I'm sure an origami expert or a parachute packer could come up with a way of deploying a circular Mylar "space blanket" so it gets launched with a spin so it unfurls into a nice big rotating circle moving towards the target so that it wraps around blocking either or both of the sensors and solar panels. One instantly dead, or at least unusable, satellite :-)

              1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                Devil

                Re: F-15 Eagle shoots down satellite in 1985

                you could make use of memory metal to cause an expected change in temperature (heating or cooling, whatever works best) to open up the "space blanket", and it wouldn't require a whole lot of expense nor electricity.

                A solar sail could work the same way, actually...

      2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: F-15 Eagle shoots down satellite in 1985

        A shotgun-styled weapon's "collateral effect" would depend very much on the angle (?) of the attack.

        If the attack was from above, then the errant shrapnel would continue down into the gravity well with it's thicker atmosphere. Such is likely to become a nonissue in a handful of orbits.

        Coming from below, it might reach escape velocity, and become part of the solar debris. If not, the orbit would entail dipping substantially into the lower atmosphere, again with high drag. Such shrapnel would take significantly longer to decay.

        If the attack were coming from the same altitude, but in front, then the satellite would be at the apogee of the orbit of the debris. The remainder would dip substantially. Depending on the actual altitudes involved, this will likely deorbit in a reasonably short time--unless we are talking about geosynchronous orbits, in which case, quite a bit of eccentricity would be needed to ensure an acceptable decay.

        The really nasty case is the "chase" scenario, where the shrapnel starts at a similar altitude as the satellite, but with a high velocity. In this case, the debris is near it's perigee. Expect it to be around for a LONG time.

      3. jason_derp Silver badge

        Re: F-15 Eagle shoots down satellite in 1985

        "Could they use a large, strong net to snag the satellite and just affect the orbit so that they fall out of the sky and burn up 'harmlessly' in the atmosphere instead?

        They'll have to do something eventually. There's always going to be some level of debris created by satellites and rockets going into orbit, even when you DO care about what you're leaving behind. Even if very strict rules and regulations were put into place and followed now, it's kind of like giving yourself a pat on the back and saying its all good because you put up a sign that said "No smearing crap on the walls". Meanwhile, that room still has crap smeared all over the walls. It's an existing problem that still needs solving in addition to the preventative measures.

  3. nematoad Silver badge
    Stop

    Two faced?

    "...addressing the risks of growing congestion due to space debris and growing activity in space."

    That's all very well and I agree that the situation should be addressed as soon as possible. But it is a little hypocritical to say that and then allow SpaceX to throw all those Starlink satellites into orbit.

    What was the number stated? 42,000?

    That's a lot of potential trouble and that is not taking into account the concerns that astronomers have about light pollution.

    1. LogicGate

      Re: Two faced?

      You are comparing apples with oranges.

      SpaceX satelites operate in controlled orbits and are equipped with active controls allowing them to avoid collisions and de-orbit at EOL. Should a satelite fail, then the very low orbit that it follows means that it will re-enter the atmosphere in a relatively short time. The results of the chinese Rapid Scheduled Dissasembly come in all sizes (many too small to be tracked, but big enough to be lethal, they fly in all sorts of orbits, many quite elliptical (altitude varies, overlapping many stable circular orbits), and they will remain a problem for a much longer time.

      1. Zolko Silver badge

        Re: Two faced?

        "active controls allowing them to avoid collisions"

        that's nothing, I've developed a powder that keeps elephants from your strawberries: simply stray that powder above your strawberries and I guarantee you that no elephant will trample them. It's cheep too: 15 bucks the dosis, good for an entire summer season.

        1. LogicGate

          Re: Two faced?

          I am not sure why you take differentiating uncontrollable shrapnel from space vehicles with working propulsion- and guidance-systems as a reason to start selling elephant powder.

          Anyway, everybody knows that elephants are kept away from the strawberry-patch by means of very large mouse-traps. The various ointments and powders found on sale have been scientifically proven not to be anywhere near as effective.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: very large mouse-traps

            I haste to add that the very large mouse-traps fail to trap regular mice. Well, they do work, sort of, on very large mice (but only on those out on a hunt for large elephants). At least in my neighbourhood.

            1. Spherical Cow

              Re: very large mouse-traps

              "I haste to add that the very large mouse-traps fail to trap regular mice. Well, they do work, sort of, on very large mice"

              Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don't think they exis...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @LogicGate - Re: Two faced?

            However, if you manage to gently put an elephant on its back with your bare hands then there will be no need for complex mechanical installations or other assistive products. OK, maybe some ointment could be used but only after it stands on its back by itself, otherwise it will slip through your fingers.

            1. David 132 Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: @LogicGate - Two faced?

              Only if you've been lubricating the elephant first.

              At which point, we all have to ask, just what the hell are you playing at? It can cause terrible pachydermatitis.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem isn't a lack of borders in space. The problem is the ludicrous idea of having borders on earth.

    We all live on the same planet, clinging to a very thin surface layer.

    We should learn that a line in a map is meaningless.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Great. How often do you leave you flat unlocked with a sign inviting folks to enter and stay?

    2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
      Facepalm

      See icon

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Yep, I missed it. And I'm the one usually getting bashed for being too subtle, too...

    3. druck Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      A quick chorus of Imagine, and then back to the real world.

      1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

        With a mindset like that, the future looks bleak

        If respectful collaboration is not a desirable thing, then it must be disrespectful conflict and competition (I specifically mention those two words, they mean the same thing, they are interchangeable)

        If we fuck up our ability to “safely” operate in orbit, to the level that it isnt even safe to launch, then say goodbye to space exploration until that problem is solved, a hard one too

        Then we have the last major world conflict ‘concluding’ with nuclear explosions, even the creator of the atom bomb scared himself

        If the answer is disrespectful competition…. So long, and thanks for all the fish

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Which two words? 'Conflict' and 'competition'? Respectful competition can be fun and healthy.

          1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

            "Respectful competition"

            I wish I could agree, and in some cases I could

            The difference between a cup final football match and a charity football match, one contains a lot of falling over, shirt pulling, toe stamping and other assorted mischief, the other contains sportsmanship and 'the correct spirit'

            It's about the stakes at hand.

            Currently space, much like cyberspace, is militaristic, it is a 'battlespace'

            Do you want space, or cyberspace, to be as these lunatics put it, 'battlespace'?

            Air, land, sea, cyber, space

            Where does it all end?

            I genuinely sometimes wish for a massive asteroid, preferably containing a shit load of Iridium or other dense element (Tungsten?), to rip through this planet with such vigour that it causes an exit wound on the opposite side.

            Silly human wars, no longer a problem, job done

            Though it does seem a bit unfair on the intelligent creatures, who for the most part, do no harm at all, relatively speaking

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. DS999 Silver badge

      So how do you envision a world without borders?

      Squatters rights everywhere, with no private property ownership? Because if people can own property, that ownership has to be subject to laws, and I'd prefer the laws that govern my house/land be US laws rather than Russian or Cuban or Nigerian laws.

  5. Sanguma

    With all due respect

    (not that there's a lot to be had, you understand) this reminds me of something I dredged up in Reely Trooly Ancient History, about something called The Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law of 16 April 1856, between the United Kingdom and France, and a group of other naval powers, when these naval powers agreed to ban privateering, that is granting private individuals with ships "Letters of Marque" during wartime permitting them to undertake commerce raiding. And the United States refused to sign, claiming that it would unduly prejudice them in times of war because their navy was so small.

    Come the US Civil War, and President Lincoln sent an emissary hot-foot to London to accede to it, claiming it was necessary because the Confederates were eating the Union's lunch with their privateering commerce raiders ... I don't think the Foreign Office - the depositary of ratifications and accessions - was too impressed, and the last I read, the US still wasn't a signatory but had decided to treat it as read, and bind itself by the Paris Declaration.

    In short, Uncle Sam will always insist that signing anything will unduly prejudice its own freedom of action, right up to the point when some rival starts eating its lunch because it too refuses to give up its freedom of action, at which point, Uncle Sam gives an award-winning impression of a spoilt child throwing a tantrum because it's not getting its own way - But you promised!!!!

    Perhaps someone should give Uncle Sam such an award .... :)

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: With all due respect

      What exactly did you expect to happen? There is not a country in the world to ever have acted differently.

      Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.

      Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

    2. HildyJ Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: With all due respect

      Indeed. Just look at the statement from the article:

      "We want to work with the international community to promote leadership and responsible space behaviors."

      Contrast it with the reality that NASA is forbidden by US law from working with the Chinese space program.

  6. Juanguanomo

    Let's not forget

    India pulled a similar stunt, rather more recently.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Juanguanomo - Re: Let's not forget

      Yeah, whatever but we're interested in China only.

    2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Let's not forget

      India's "stunt" was intended to cool the Chinese dragon a bit. China's adventurism along the Indian border is plainly in bad faith. At 283 km, that is clearly a LEO intercept, and most of the debris was expected to decay in weeks, with almost all gone in a year.

      Tell "Pooh" I said "Hi!"

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Let's not forget

        "Oh, bother!" said Xi, "I've got my head stuck in this jar of Hunny..."

  7. Magani
    Mushroom

    A law unto themselves.

    ...to create a framework for rules-based order in space.

    Hands up all those who think China would give a dead dingo's donger about anyone else's rules.

    Icon: What we hope doesn't happen with a certain rocket booster over the next day or so.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: A law unto themselves.

      Or that America would allow itself to be subject to any international body

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: A law unto themselves.

        Yeah, look how long it took them to ratify the Berne convention, pretty much the last to the party, and now they are probably the worlds strongest proponents of international copyright. Or so a little mouse tells me.

  8. Santa from Exeter

    Weaponry

    Did anyone else read this -

    "Russia's Kosmos 2542 has presented copy-cat behaviour to a US satellite that makes officials believe it could be a weapon."

    as the US saying that the Russians must have a weaponised satellite because it's behaving just like their weaponised satellite?

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Weaponry

      I read it as the Russian satellite is shadowing one of the NSA's KH-11 satellites with the intent to destroy it in the event of a conflict between the US and Russia. Don't you remember Moonraker?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Weaponry

        Do NSA's KH-11 satellites officially exist?

        Hard to complain that the enemies anti-satellite weapon is targeting your secret military satellites that don't exist

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Weaponry

          Do NSA's KH-11 satellites officially exist?

          How could they, there is No Such Agency ;)

  9. James Anderson

    Bit worrying.....

    A collision in space between two reasonably hefty objects would result in thousands of bullet and football sized chunks travelling a speed in random directions. Just a couple need to hit another satelite to create more bullet sized debris instituting a chain reaction. After some time the earth will be surrounded by a field of flying metal that ised to be satelites. No more GPS but on the bright side no more SKY tv.

    1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

      Re: Bit worrying.....

      The collision between the iridium and kosmos satellites in 2009 produced over 2000 trackable pieces of debris. Don't know how many untrackable pieces there were, but probably a lot more than 2000, and untrackable pieces are still deadly at orbital speeds. I've seen 1g nylon pellets punch through multiple sheets of steel at less than orbital speeds.

      Satellite TV and other things from GEO will be fine as the orbits in GEO don't cross at the same high speeds as in LEO. That's for accidental commissions anyway, deliberate action is a while other issue. GPS will be fine for a while too as the orbits they are in (MEO) are far less congested. But the "space is big, really big" argument is dangerous as that's what got us into the problem we currently have in LEO.

      LEO (where the ISS, starlink, and so much else orbits) is really busy and orbits cross over all the time.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Bit worrying.....

      "A collision in space between two reasonably hefty objects would result in thousands of bullet and football sized chunks travelling a speed in random directions. ..."

      A bit more nuanced than that. Depending on the closing speed, closing angle, rotational speed of the objects (if any), object masses, the construction of the objects and whether one or both have explosive payloads that actually explode, the result could be anything from thousands of fragments to only a few fragments plus (possibly) some amount of harmless vapor. Barring other factors intervening, two things will be true of each and every one of the objects leaving the collision. They will be traveling in an orbit -- probably an ellipse with the center of the Earth at the nearer focus. And, assuming they don't hit the Earth or leave the Earth's gravitational field entirely, they will all pass thru the collision point (in an Earth-centered inertial coordinate system) when they finish their first revolution. I think that most will probably "hit the Earth". But that's not certain. It's just the expected result over a large number of random collisions. Fortunately (probably) they won't all arrive at the collision point at the same time because most every orbit will have a slightly different period.

      Anyway, that's what I think will happen.

    3. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Bit worrying.....

      Space is big. Really, really big.

      Now, Earth orbit is not nearly so big, but it is still much MUCH bigger than you think. I find it revealing that the Wikipedia article on the Kessler Syndrome make no effect to address what the critical point is, or where we are in relationship to it.

      Yes, we need to be aware. No, we are not close to it. At all.

      1. DWRandolph

        Re: Bit worrying.....

        But, People Are Stupid. Same as the kerfuffles about global warming or climate change or pandemic response or economic inequality or paving over farmland or .... Doing something would hit their bonus this quarter, so denying it exists makes it easier to do nothing. I have given up on this species, we are not going to get off this ball of rock. And there will not be enough left for whatever next tries to rise up in few thousand years to bootstrap themselves into a new civilization.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Space Rules?

    The TV Show Seinfeld:

    Jerry in reference to Kramer: You can make all the laws you want, he's still gonna bother people.

    In context to this article:

    You can make all the international 'Space' rules you want. China is still going violate them.

    1. jgarbo
      Facepalm

      Re: Space Rules?

      The US military talks about "rules"? Can I have that again, in English?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But China always abide by international treaties...

    ... I mean they signed a treaty guaranteeing autonomous rule in Hong Kong for 50 years following the handover of.... oh. OH!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @MonkeyMagic - Re: But China always abide by international treaties...

      So you're stealing a piece of Chinese territory, you agree to give it back on your terms and then you accuse China of being dishonest for not respecting those terms. Remind me why China should play fair with those who didn't in the first place ? Play fair to get beaten by those who don't ?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: @MonkeyMagic - But China always abide by international treaties...

        If we're doing it right, it goes more like this:

        You steal a piece of territory from a Chinese government, which gets torn down by its citizens, replaced with another Chinese government, which gets torn down by a section of its citizens while another section of its citizens try to defend it, then that new Chinese government kills a lot of the citizens who supported it, then they demand it back, then the power which stole the territory looks at the people who live in that territory and do not want to be given to China, then turns them over to China anyway. The U.K. isn't covered in glory from this operation, but the people living in Hong Kong got the worst end of everything. They were handed over to a dictatorship against their will which did exactly what they feared it would do.

        The terms should have been set by Hong Kong's residents, and they weren't. Of course, they probably would have said something along the lines of "Not with China. In fact, let's see if we can somehow move the island farther away." You can easily blame the U.K. for being a colonial power which committed a large array of atrocities, but using that argument to argue that China's actions are in any way justified is wrong.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: @MonkeyMagic - But China always abide by international treaties...

          It is even a bit more complicated, Hong Kong itself was indeed stolen, the New Territories were (forcibly) leased with a time limit of 150 years. The Hong Kong Crown Colony itself wasn't viable without the New Territories, so was returned together with the rest. And you are right, the inhabitants rightly feared what happened and didn't want it.

      2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: @MonkeyMagic - But China always abide by international treaties...

        Tell Pooh I said, "Hi!"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @MonkeyMagic - Re: But China always abide by international treaties...

      At least they are not rewriting international treaties whenever it pleases them. Oh, and they also do not enforce those treaties on countries that never signed them.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: @MonkeyMagic - But China always abide by international treaties...

        But what if they were only breaking the law "in a very specific and limited way" ?

  12. aki009

    Agreements are only as good as the people you make them with

    Let's see here.

    China signs deal with the UK for Hong Kong independence and takes it over pretty much the way Germany annexed Austria in 1938.

    China is on the UN human rights council and massacres Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghurs.

    China agrees to withdraw from the South China Sea (with the US and Philippines), and then doesn't.

    China claims that it wouldn't weaponize its illegally built up artificial islands in the South China Sea, and then proceeds to do just that.

    And the list goes on.

    Yeah, we can really trust the Chinese to abide by an agreement on space.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Agreements are only as good as the people you make them with

      Yeah, we can really trust the Chinese to abide by break any agreement on space.

      FTFY

  13. Claptrap314 Silver badge
    Pint

    More of the same

    China's rhetoric has been aggressively anti-US since the 80's. We had to soft-petal them while deflecting the Soviet threat, but we are long past the point that we should be considering them as anything other than a militaristic expansionist genocidal power. Their generations of female abortions have almost made this necessary. This is no different than the South China See or the Himalayas, except that it directly affects US interests. Fortunately, their actions are equally threatening to the EU, India and Japan.

    A consistent united front is needed. Oh wait. Consistent politics in open societies is a borderline contradiction in terms. We're going to have to wait until they go "too far" in some meaningful sense and hope that the anti-Western attitude of our universities and of Hollywood haven't weakened our will beyond the ability to respond.

    -----> for crying.

    1. John H Woods

      Re: More of the same

      What is this "Anti western attitude of our universities and of Hollywood" of which you speak?

      IIRC it was Reagonomics onwards that wanted to "soft-petal" [sic] China so that the rich could get richer by outsourcing virtually all our manufacturing out there where labour and environmental standards (aka costs) were lower.

      Normal left wingers aren't that keen on China or any other authoritarian, anti-humanitarian (even genocidal), exploitative, extractive societies - even before they start being a sink for all the non-minimum wage jobs in our own democratic countries.

      Now I know a lot of you think left wingers are the cause of all the world's problems but allow me to point out that from the time of Mrs T and President R, it has actually been the neolibs in charge of most of the western world almost constantly. That's about 4 decades of power. How much longer are they going to try to convince people that the "left" ... whose power amounts to little more than shouting "you're doing it wrong" at the neolibs ... are actually the problem?

      Maybe it's the fact that trickle-down, deregulation, privatisation of infrastructure and the other darling policies of the neolibs don't actually work all that well, rather than that a ragtag bunch of vocal liberal artists and assorted intellectuals are somehow magically stopping governments getting things done, despite the former having been flaling in the vacuum of political impotence for over 40 years whilst the latter have steered their chosen course almost unhindered by opposition.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: More of the same

        Pass the joint, man.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. John H Woods

          Re: "Pass the joint, man"

          I can only imagine the scorn I would have deservedly incurred if I had replied to your comment with such a lazy quip. If you're going for an amusing dismissal, at least aim for some measure of originality.

          Just tell me which left wing governments or policies in the West, in your considered opinion, enabled or encouraged the rise and rise of China as a world power over the last half century ... ?

          PS: I agree we had to treat China with kid gloves during the Cold War but let's remember there's been no USSR for 30 years.

  14. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    astronaut, cosmonaut or taikonaut

    "astronaut, cosmonaut or taikonaut"

    What's the difference? All those words mean the same thing, don't they? We rarely, if ever, use local language names for things, people or titles so why do it for astronauts? How often, in English speaking media, do we see references to le Presidente or El Presidente or Cumhurbaşkanı

    (I hope that last is correct, I relied on Google translate - The english speaking media always refer to "President" Erdogan, never Cumhurbaşkanı Erdogan. On the other hand, I notice the BBC always refer to the Irish leader as Taoiseach, the Gaelic word and sometimes, in brackets, state (Prime Minister), but don't appear to do it for any other world leader)

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: astronaut, cosmonaut or taikonaut

      For starters, if a word is too unwieldy in the native tongue, it's going to get mangled anyway, so just translate it and go on. After that, custom matters.

      So Spanish is easy enough for Americans (and I assume Brits) that El Presidente comes straight across. Note that in the US at least, there is enough of a reputation for corruption in Latin American countries that the term is sometimes used deliberately for leaders as a slur.

      Language is funny like that.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interestingly, it will just make no difference to my quality of life if space becomes unusable.

    None.

    Space provides minor conveniences like GPS, somewhat better weather forecasts and of course the nice Space Weather Girl.

    All stuff I lived just fine without, and can live just fine without again.

    Oh and "always on, everywhere on earth" internet, which I can _totally_ live without.

    So I really don't give a shit, and I'm keep my popcorn handy for El Muskos Kessler event. Bring it on!

  16. Winkypop Silver badge
    Trollface

    So

    If another space faring nation sent up something and it was designed to re-enter earth’s atmosphere, why not let it fall on a remote part of China?

    Turn-about is fair play after all.

    I’m sure old Pooh Bear would be fine with that.

  17. slowaociopath

    I realize it was fiction, but in The Oral History of World War Z, they discovered the Chinese space station was nothing but a space denial weapon

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