I really thought that I was done writing for the night, but after reading Gail Collins’ Op-Ed piece on the successful downing of an inoperational satellite by the Pentagon, I couldn’t resist making mention of it here. It is Vonnegut-worthy satire.

As Collins’ reported, the cost of knocking this hunk of metal out of the sky was a cool 60 million. Upon the Pentagon’s recommendation, the President decided that the tiny odds that this dysfunctional satellite would fall smack into someone’s back yard and filling it with an unpleasant gas justified the cost of taking it out. Mind you, I’m all for protecting my own little ecosystem out here in Eden, but as Collins points out, an estimated 17,000 things have already made their way from space to Earth through out atmosphere and the odds of any single one of them hitting us is several million to one. My back yard and I, for one, have yet to be hit.

Collins challenges her readers to imagine what they might do with 60 million to invest in protecting their personal safety. Here’s my two cents; and I’ll even stick to the topic at hand. Instead of playing star wars with defective space equipment, I would invest the 60 million in research grants to PhDs and postdocs for the purpose of creating environmentally friendly satellites, ones that would burn up upon passing back through the earth’s atmosphere without being blown to smithereens beforehand. Alternatively, my 60 million might support research and development of satellites with a longer shelf-life; these “environmentally friendly” satellites could be easily be retooled and upgraded as technological advances deemed necessary. And I’m not a scientist! Heaven knows there are better ideas out there!

Here’s a link The New York Times news story on the event. It includes a great picture. Here’s the critical Chinese response to the event as reported by The Times, and here’s a link to The Lede’s coverage of the event, which includes some direct quotes from Pentagon officials justifying their decision.