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Author Topic:   Space station defense against military attack
garyd2831
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Posts: 442
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 03-07-2013 10:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Being the military and always watching what is going on in our ever challenging world and the latest threats made by North Korea here is my latest question.

What if, and I mean "what if": With North Korea ramping up their missile, nuclear weapons and satellite programs, what is to prevent them from not trying to "attack" the ISS? What defense capabilities does the ISS have to protect itself from these possible future threats?

Treaties and sanctions don't always stop the acts from happening.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-07-2013 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The space station is a civilian laboratory; it has no defense mechanisms.

The response would be identical to what happens when space debris poses a threat to the space station. If prior warning is given and enough time was available, the crew would perform a debris avoidance maneuver, moving the station's orbit. If not, then they would take shelter in their Soyuz spacecraft and prepare to evacuate.

Headshot
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Posts: 182
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 03-07-2013 11:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One also has to remember that the space station is international. Not even North Korea is dense enough to attack and destroy a facility largey owned and run by the United States and Russia. I suspect that while we would be debating our response, Russian missles would already be flying.

issman1
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From: UK
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 03-07-2013 11:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sounds vaguely familiar to a certain Congressman in Washington DC.

North Korea may be as welcome as China aboard the International Space Station, or even NASA facilities, but I doubt it will launch a pre-emptive strike against ISS.

The threat from space junk and rogue meteors is more of an immediate concern.

Glint
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From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 03-07-2013 02:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's as if the North Korean leader is attempting to channel his inner JFK by penning his own unique creed of the "Rice University" speech, verbalizing his dream, demented though it may be, of landing a WMD in an enemy country using a missile. And like Kennedy, he is capitalizing on a few preliminary and relatively simple milestones to suppor the announcment of his intention of achieving a presently unreachable national goal whose completion would occur far in the future.

Peter downunder
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From: Lancefield, Victoria, Australia
Registered: Apr 2012

posted 03-08-2013 02:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter downunder   Click Here to Email Peter downunder     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Regardless of some people's fear of North Korea's nuclear aspirations; does any country possess the technology to hit something the size of the ISS travelling at 28000 kph in earth orbit?

Spaceguy5
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From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 03-08-2013 03:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's been done before by China. They tested an anti-satellite system by launching a missile at a defunct Chinese weather satellite. The test was a success, but the amount of orbital debris created just by this one event was catastrophic. The US later did their own anti-satellite demonstration.

Headshot
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From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 03-08-2013 07:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It wouldn't take much to incapacitate or destroy the ISS. Dispersing a hundred kilograms of gravel at the right point in space would do the job. If the now hyper-velocity gravel did not penetrate the pressurized modules, it woulkd certainly wreak havoc with those huge solar panels.

So all one would need would be a moderate-sized launch vehicle, a can with a remote control lid (or small destruct pyros), a battery to run things, along with a semi-decent guidance system and instant world crisis.

Glint
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Posts: 747
From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 03-08-2013 09:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Peter downunder:
Does any country possess the technology to hit something the size of the ISS travelling at 28000 kph in earth orbit?
Of course. Remember this ship launched satellite kill not that long ago? It was a direct hit. Even better, it was a much smaller target than the ISS.

garyd2831
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Posts: 442
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 03-08-2013 10:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is my point. While it was mentioned that it would be foolish for North Korea to attack an "international" space station, they obviously are not too intelligent if they want to just directly threaten the United States. I have some fellow Air Force friends that work in career fields that when the President gives them a call, they can turn a city or country into a glass parking lot. Pretty foolish just to poke this dog... remember Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

This is why I asked the general question regarding the ISS defensive plan if there was one. The ISS is not entirely civilian other than the NASA, Russian Space Agencies and our fellow supporting nations that is tied to it and oversees its operations. There are military personnel from both the United States, Russia and other countries who are on board at any given time. North Korea could claim this a threat of espionage and act on it.

I really don't think that will happen, but I like to look at all vulnerabilities and access the mitigation's needed. One can always plan for a contingency and the ISS isn't any different. Just my thoughts.

robsouth
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Posts: 607
From: West Midlands, UK
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 03-08-2013 10:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a sad reflection on mankind that this question even needs to be asked.

Jim Behling
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Posts: 537
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 03-08-2013 10:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garyd2831:
The ISS is not entirely civilian other than the NASA, Russian Space Agencies and our fellow supporting nations that is tied to it and oversees its operations.
No, the ISS is entirely civilian. The pedigree of astronauts does not matter. They work for NASA and its international counterparts and not their military branches.

p51
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 03-08-2013 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA has always considered the possibility of attacks on their equipment by military and terrorist actions (I once worked on a DoD report on the possibility of a guided missile attack on an orbiter as it left the pad at JSC and what it spelled out didn't make me sleep too soundly).

Several nations have the capability of directly damaging the ISS. The main worry would be motives.

In this day of 'high profile targets', I don't see anyone going to the trouble for something like that. Far too easier to drive a 18-wheeler full of explosives (either conventional or not, there are plenty of unaccounted Soviet low-yeild nukes somewhere) into DC or in front of the UN building in NYC, or perhaps NATO facilities in Belgium. That's the best bang for the buck these days. It'd cost a fortune to launch something to damage the ISS and I think the western societal impact wouldn't be worth the expense to do so. I'm far more worried about North Korea dropping a ten-kiloton warhead on Tokyo or Seoul than someone schwacking the ISS...

quote:
Originally posted by garyd2831:
Pretty foolish just to poke this dog... remember Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
The people who pulled off 9/11 were just fine and happy with what we did later on, unlike the Japanese by 1945... (I can say this as a former US Army officer and a published military historian).

Jay Chladek
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Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 03-09-2013 10:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Glint:
Of course. Remember this ship launched satellite kill not that long ago? It was a direct hit. Even better, it was a much smaller target than the ISS.

Operation Burnt Frost's target may have been smaller than the ISS, but it was also MUCH closer as it was a satellite in a very low orbit. The US made sure to target it not long before its predicted reentry so that debris would be minimized. The Chinese ASAT test was done in a higher orbit.

As I understand it, the Soviets had an ASAT design supposedly capable of being deployed in the 1970s, but they never did test it operationally to my knowledge. The US did test an ASAT capability in their development of the ASM-135 missile capable of being launched by an F-15. One actual satellite kill was made with the missile when an F-15 fired one on September 13, 1985, scoring a direct hit on the Solarwind P-78-1 satellite. But it also kicked up a fair amount of debris. Plans were for two F-15 squadrons to go operational with the missile (the conversion work was done with the airplanes) before the project was cancelled in 1988 due to a Congressional ban. Supposedly, the test lead to NASA improving their orbital debris studies and led to improvements to the shielding onboard the ISS.

As for a threat nation launching an ASAT at the ISS, it would be VERY difficult to pull off and pretty close to political suicide. At the altitude the ISS orbits at, a direct kinetic kill vehicle launched from the surface would need to be somewhat large and have to launch with split second timing to hit the station. China has demonstrated that capability due to how high an orbit their satellite was at when the test was done.

North Korea though, they barely got a rocket into orbit and the satellite it released as I understanding is just tumbling uselessly. I have no doubt that one day they COULD do it if they were crazy enough. But with Russia being something of an ally, it is a very dangerous game to do that and I doubt even China would be in their corner if North Korea made an attempt. The most effective kill vehicle for such a mission would be a kinetic kill one though (a relatively small and light weight warhead designed for direct impact). A nuke tends to be pretty massive by comparison and would require a larger booster to get up that high. I also don't know how effective one would be if it were set off in space either.

All times are CT (US)

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