China fires missile into space, ignoring US call to ban space weapon tests

Posted 46 days ago


China completed a weapons test on Sunday that entails destroying a ballistic missile as it arcs back into the earth’s atmosphere, risking creating a dangerous debris field in space. China said the test was not directed at any particular nation, but it comes in disregard for U. S. calls for countries to ban weapons tests in space.

On Sunday, the Chinese Ministry of Defense issued a statement announcing it had “conducted a land-based mid-course missile interception test” within its territory and said the test “achieved the desired objective.” While short on details about the precise nature of the test, a midcourse interception of a ballistic missile entails destroying it as it travels through or near the edge of space.

According to the U. S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), ballistic missile trajectories are commonly divided into three phases: the boost phase, mid-course and terminal phase.

Missile interception in the initial boost phase is optimal as it would destroy a potentially nuclear-armed ballistic missile before it can deploy most countermeasures. While a boost-phase interception is optimal, there is only a narrow one to five-minute window of time for such an interception to occur and missile defense interceptors and sensors must be placed in close proximity to the missile when it launches.

The mid-course is a less desirable phase for intercepting a ballistic missile but provides as much as 20 minutes for such an interception to take place. During its mid-course flight, a ballistic missile’s boosters burn out and the missile follows a predictable arc through space. Stopping a ballistic missile in its mid-course phase entails destroying it in space, which runs the risk of cre... (Read more)