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Well the missile defense system is now batting over 50% with today's test (when looking at all tests of the system). One significant difference today was it was the first time they used an operational missile out of one of the alert silos and not a test missile sitting on a pad out in the Pacific. Nice to see it work although I'll bet it's still probably only 50% effective at best. I just don't know how "real" the test was to say for sure. At least we have some capability for the billions spent.
 

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This was certainly encouraging news especially since it was reported that operational crews and equipment were used in the test. We'll keep an eye on things as the complexity of the tests increase (i.e. decoys, later phase intercepts, etc.). Hopefully December holds similar results.
 

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a waste of money on a pipe dream. Even if it were to come to fruition, at 100% effectiveness, it would have a hard time shooting down a warhead tucked in the hold of a ship in New York or L.A. harbor. All Star Wars will do (if it actually ever does anything) is change the way some body might decide to attack us.
 

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mfitz said:
a waste of money on a pipe dream. Even if it were to come to fruition, at 100% effectiveness, it would have a hard time shooting down a warhead tucked in the hold of a ship in New York or L.A. harbor. All Star Wars will do (if it actually ever does anything) is change the way some body might decide to attack us.
As with nearly all government contacts, there was a significant amount of of spending and little to show for it with early concepts. However, that seems to be under control now and we're seeing successful tests with increasing complexity. Now, more than ever, it's apparent that pursuing this program was a prudent decision. It's one component in what is conceptually a multi-layered defense. You have to start somewhere.

The interceptors are not really a deterrent to the likes of Russia or China since they could likely overwhelm such a defense. At the same time, the likelihood of attack from these countries is much more limited and our approach with them is different. What it does offer is protection from rogue states with a more limited capability, such as NK. And just because we develop this program does not mean that other actions aren't being taken to address other security issues - it's not a one or the other proposition.
 

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mfitz said:
a waste of money on a pipe dream. Even if it were to come to fruition, at 100% effectiveness, it would have a hard time shooting down a warhead tucked in the hold of a ship in New York or L.A. harbor. All Star Wars will do (if it actually ever does anything) is change the way some body might decide to attack us.
It seems like it was such a money drain because it was begun well before technology could achieve its aims. Seems like technology is catching up to the idea.

While the system itself isn't the most successful, still, I wonder how many other innovations have been made as a result of the Star Wars research. I imagine there have been a number.
 

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flying_scotsman said:
It seems like it was such a money drain because it was begun well before technology could achieve its aims. Seems like technology is catching up to the idea.

While the system itself isn't the most successful, still, I wonder how many other innovations have been made as a result of the Star Wars research. I imagine there have been a number.
Ya know, that was what they said about space travel, but they stopped that anyway as being not worth the expense. I think the returns on interplanetary research would be better than the Star Wars venture.
 

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Harvey Wallbanger said:
Ya know, that was what they said about space travel, but they stopped that anyway as being not worth the expense. I think the returns on interplanetary research would be better than the Star Wars venture.
Last I saw, they hadn't stopped space travel, just reevaluated how to go about doing it.
 

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I calculate that reevaluation has put em about 20 years behind schedule. The space station isn't finished and they've finally decided the shuttle wasn't adequate for the job it was intended to fill.
 

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Harvey Wallbanger said:
I calculate that reevaluation has put em about 20 years behind schedule. The space station isn't finished and they've finally decided the shuttle wasn't adequate for the job it was intended to fill.
So, we're supposed to be on Mars by now? Or a moon base? Not sure I'm sure of where you think we're supposed to be. Or that the reason for any "delays" can be laid solely at the feet of NASA. After all, the space station is an international venture and the space program has faced changing briefs since the end of the Cold War. It's hardly a rigid brief even now.

To be sure, NASA's rather inefficient and slow to change course, but such is the way with most huge goverment agencies. But seems like they've learned as much from their failures as their successes. In space as in life.

With the advent of the private X programs, I'm sure they're brief has changed once again.

I'm interested in seeing where they go next.
 

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Harvey Wallbanger said:
Ya know, that was what they said about space travel, but they stopped that anyway as being not worth the expense. I think the returns on interplanetary research would be better than the Star Wars venture.
One difference is that space travel can be done privately. That's the future, as evidenced by Spaceship One. A national defense, including the development on an anti-ballistic missile shield, is one of the few legitimate functions for the federal government.
 

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I'm most certainly not laying the delays at Nasa's feet, I feel it's more an issue with the attitude of government and the boredom of the public.

I mean, I have teenage daughters. We were in a TJ Maxx looking for kid gifts for a birthday or something, and I saw Apollo moon mission toys (remember this is heavily-discounted, often remaindered stuff), and I had to say "Yes, before YOU WERE BORN we landed men on the moon. We don't do that anymore..."

Tell me you don't feel sad about that.:(
 

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I'm obviously simplifying it but I just don't understand why they aren't farther ahead. Shoot a missle, intercept it/get close to it, explode defense missle close enough to incoming missle to destroy/disrupt it.
 

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it really isn't that easy at the speeds the missiles are traveling. the interceptor really has ONE chance.
 

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It's darn near like you and a buddy stand a mile or so apart and shoot rifles at each other. Your goal is to hit his bullet with your bullet.

This is just one part of the entire system. The Navy can do boost phase intercepts with thei Aegis cruisders standard missiles. There's also continued improvements to the Patriot system, along with beam weapons for boost stage and who knows what else R&D is going on for possible breakthroughs.
 

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Medrosje said:
I'm obviously simplifying it but I just don't understand why they aren't farther ahead. Shoot a missle, intercept it/get close to it, explode defense missle close enough to incoming missle to destroy/disrupt it.
That basically was the early concept – we’ve been working on missile defense projects in various forms for over 50 years. Ultimately, I think it all depends on the phase the intercept is to occur. Each has it’s challenges.

At one time, the Army had the Nike ABM program which basically launched a nuclear warhead interceptor into the path of an ICBM. It would detonate when in close proximity and in theory destroy the inbound ICBM. There was concern over fallout as well as the impact an explosion would have to satellites, radar, etc. Not to mention an ABM treaty or two. It also cost a ton of money (sounds familiar) and would’ve had limited effectiveness in the face of an overwhelming Soviet attack (the only real threat at that time). It was scrapped not long after deployment.

Intercepting an ICBM has some unique challenges. A blast frag missile is not effective outside the atmosphere as there is no concussion or effective disbursement of the fragments. Even if the fragments were to strike the inbound missile, it may not effectively neutralize it. Another important consideration here is the extremely high rate of closure between the two missiles. An ICBM is incredibly fast…an interceptor is even faster. These incredibly high rates of closure (~17,000 mph+) pose issues with timing of a blast frag. An inbound ICBM is moving faster than the effects of a proximity explosion.

A “hit to kill” interceptor, like the ones being developed use no explosives but rather use their kinetic energy to smash through the missile. It’s the only method that assures a warhead can be neutralized. Of course, with that, you have a host of other complex issues to contend with and the solutions to those problems require technology and time.
 

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J-RAD said:
At one time, the Army had the Nike ABM program which basically launched a nuclear warhead interceptor into the path of an ICBM. It would detonate when in close proximity and in theory destroy the inbound ICBM.
Actually, the Nike program (both Ajax and Hercules) was an anti-aircraft defense; even though the Nike Hercules had nuclear capability, it was only intended to be used against large incoming bomber formations. In fact, the birth of the ICBM was the death of the Nike program.

Back on-topic, why don't we just put the Star Wars program into abeyance for a bit and re-focus our energies on stopping a REAL threat: the RPGs that are killing our soldiers in Iraq? Right now, our current anti-RPG defense isn't scheduled for development completion until something like 2011 (if we're lucky). In the mean time, Israel has a system called Trophy (developed by Rafael) that appears to be reasonably effective. Apparently though, the Pentagon is not interested in buying into that one, even if it could immediately save soldiers' lives. Yes, I know the political military-industrial reality of the situation; tell it to the parents of the Americans who are dying from RPG attacks almost every day. This is just stupid.
 

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Medrosje said:
I'm obviously simplifying it but I just don't understand why they aren't farther ahead. Shoot a missle, intercept it/get close to it, explode defense missle close enough to incoming missle to destroy/disrupt it.
Shot a gun.....invent something that will shot down the bullet. Good luck

It sounds easy....but in reality is almost impossible.

Nice to see that they are making SOME progress.....it's been what? 30-40 years now?

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