Several weeks ago we were treated to news that a derelict U.S. spy satellite, floundering aimlessly in a decaying orbit, would soon burn up in an impressive but ultimately harmless fireball as it re-entered our atmosphere. Now, one Iranian missle launch later, the U.S. has decided that this satellite is a threat and should be terminated with extreme prejudice.
I am not an engineer, nor do I comprehend the complexities and toxicity of hypergolic fuels such as hydrozine (ahem.), however, this turn of events is highly suspect. I find it more than a mere coincidence that NASA Administrator Micheal Griffin has gone from indifferent to alarmed, and enlisted the help of the military to remove this toxic fireball forged in the fires of Mt. Doom.
Iran already has one satellite in orbit, and plans more following its successful test in February 2008, but it appears President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclamation that "We need to have an active and influential presence in space" will be contested by the Pentagon and Bush Administration. Iran may be capable of placing satellites in orbit, but the U.S. military will be damned if it will allow such assets to remain there. Happy hunting.