Planet Watch
spacedebris

Dangerous debris from Russian space kablooie

Russia destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-based missile, in a test of its PL-19 Nudol DA-ASAT (direct-ascent anti-satellite) system. The blast created thousands of pieces of debris that have spread out into Earth orbit. The US says it has identified more than 1,500 trackable pieces of debris from the strike, and many thousands of smaller ones. That same day, the Russia’s RosCosmos space agency reported that the astronauts aboard the International Space Station had to shelter in place due to a cloud of debris passing by the station every 90 minutes, the time it takes for the ISS to orbit the Earth. It was unclear if the debris threatening the space station came from Russia’s ASAT test. But Washington charges that the new debris field poses a danger to the space station. (Image: MIT News)

Planet Watch
Mars probe

Podcast: US robo-imperialism hands off Mars!

In Episode 64 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the maddening and telling irony that while we’re all supposed to be ga-ga with triumphalism over NASA’s latest Mars probe, it has received practicailly no attention that Afro-Brazilian peasant communities are being forcibly removed from their traditional lands to make way for a US-backed expansion of the Alcântara Satellite Launch Center in impoverished Maranhão state. This juxtaposition of news stories is paradigmatic of the whole global struggle—sustainable, Earth-rooted cultures against a hypertrophing technosphere that is now colonizing the very heavens. Meanwhile, there are already so many satellites in orbit that near-Earth space is experiencing a fast-growing “space junk” problem. And economic austerity down here on terra firma is compounding the agonizing impacts of the pandemic. Whatever useful knowledge may be gleaned from the Mars probe, accounts don’t note that Halliburton is drawing up plans for mining operations on Mars. We recall Gil Scott Heron’s wry reaction to the 1969 Moon landing (“Whitey on the Moon“), and say with Marvin Gaye: “Spend it on the have-nots!” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image adapted from NASA photo)

Southern Cone

Chinese ‘spaceport’ military outpost in Argentina?

Announcement of a joint Chinese-Argentine satellite production company comes amid growing concern within Argentina about activities at the Chinese-operated "spaceport" at Bajada del Agrio in Patagonia—and the apparent role of the People's Liberation Army in the facility. The Bajada del Agrio facility played a part in tracking China's recent lunar probe, but is overseen by companies that answer directly to the PLA's General Armaments Department. Only personnel authorized by Beijing have access to the facility, arousing much suspicion about the site in Argentina's news media. (Photo via InfoBae)

Planet Watch

Will world war be October surprise?

Will an "October surprise" in the prelude to the mid-term elections in the US be the outbreak of world war—that is, direct superpower conflict? Things are escalating fast on the frontlines with both of the United States' major imperial rivals. The US Navy's Pacific Fleet is preparing to carry out a "global show of force" as a warning to China, after a near-skirmish between a US warship and a Chinese destroyer in the disputed South China Sea. Meanwhile, NATO is planning to conduct its largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War, Trident Juncture 2018, along Norway's border wth Russia. This comes as Washington and Moscow are odds over missile deployments, accusing each other of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (Image: Lockheed Martin)

The Amazon

Peru: satellite to monitor rainforest

Peru launched its first satellite into space this month, to monitor illegal mining, logging and other extractive activities in the country's vast stretch of the Amazon rainforest.

East Asia

China adopts new national security law

China's top legislature, the NPC Standing Committee,  adopted a controversial new National Security Law that increases cyber security powers and "ideological control over the public."

Southern Cone

Argentina: Chinese spaceport plan protested

Protesters marched to a construction site in Argentina's Neuquén province where plans are moving ahead for a spaceport to be overseen by China's space agency.

South Asia

Coup for Delhi in Sino-Indian space race

India's Mars orbiter arrives at the red planet just days after NASA's latest probe. These missions are less about "science" than geopolitics on Earth—the New Cold War with China.