Pfft. Star Wars was about shooting down missiles. That doesn’t work. The US military claim “hits” and that it works, but when you look closely, it looks like Alastair Campbell is involved. Check out the press release:
Note careful use of language that skirts around the issue of whether the target was actually hit, implying (to we Brits who are innoculated against New Labour spin) that it didn’t.
Star Wars was about missiles because hitting a satellite is a tougher job – they’re further away and they move faster.
But … hit it they did … on one try …
“hitting a satellite is a tougher job”
No. It’s not. Really not. For a start, we’ve actually shot down satellites. Whereas we’ve only shot down missiles in the topsy-turvy world of the military where a ‘miss’ is redefined as a ‘hit’.
The reason is to do with relative closing speeds because of the trajectory you can follow. After all, by your definition, the space shuttle is able to do the amazing feat of ‘hit’ the ISS when it docks with it. Since we could do this kind of thing back in the ’60s and ’70s, we could shoot down missiles by simply docking with them.
Seeing as the satellite was known about for months in advance whereas hostile missiles would allow only a couple of minutes of preparation, they can’t really be compared.
Star Wars also presumably was going to have to deal with thousands of missiles at the same time.
Lot of hair splitting going on here. Let’s try and put matters in perspective.
An object in motion around the earth is a tiny fast moving target. For a comparable challenge, try hitting the front wheel of a Scooter with a high powered rifle bullet, say from an FN-FAL , at five hundred metres (Well within said rifles effective range). Now try hitting the same Scooter moving left to right diagonally away from you at a steady 100kph at the same starting distance. You know it’s coming, but said hypothetical scooter is still a moving target. Scale the numbers and objects upwards until you are dealing with an object in a decaying low earth orbit and a ground level based missile system. Now try to get a hit.
Without ‘Star Wars’ developed targeting technology, you just couldn’t do it.
“Without ‘Star Wars’ developed targeting technology, you just couldn’t do it.”
With a satellite you can match its orbit, approaching it from behind (which is how the shuttle docked with Hubble to repair it).
If I were following your scooter in a car, I’m sure it would be a lot easier to shoot the tyres out than if the scooter were coming at the car head-on.
“Star Wars also presumably was going to have to deal with thousands of missiles at the same time.”
Indeed. And each with MERV warheads, too.
You’re correct of course. If the target is a satellite in a stable orbit and your interceptor has ample time to obtain a near-matching orbit and then close on the target from either rotation, yeah, comparatively straight-forward. Much more difficult to track and project a partial and decaying orbit-has to be re-determined on each pass-and limit the launch to a relatively fixed site with range limitations. It was a rather impressive fete-“Star Wars” or not.
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