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Any country could launch a nuclear satellite ?

This is a discussion on Any country could launch a nuclear satellite ? within the Space & Defense Technology forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Hello, I would like to know if it's possible for a country (a bad country) to launch a satellite, officially ...


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Old September 29th, 2012   #1
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Any country could launch a nuclear satellite ?

Hello,

I would like to know if it's possible for a country (a bad country) to launch a satellite, officially it's a meteorology (or telecommunication or other) satellite but in reality it's a nuclear bomb for create a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NEMP) ? Meteorology like that it's possible to place it at 400 km of altitude. Maybe before launching, satellite is controlled but like some technology are protected, NASA or worst ARIANE can launch a nuclear bomb without know it. After, the country can say, it doesn't work but in fact they wait the good time for explode the bomb and destroy a large area like Europe or USA.

Maybe country which have money launched and will start NEMP when they want.

The second point is any countries like USA, Europe, Russia and China have certainly launched atomic bomb, it's another fear. Why do that ? To respond in case of big attack.

I remember De Gaule, he said at its chiefs the WWII will be different that the first, he's explain how it will be in details, nobody heard him, and this is what's arrive...

Do you know how the satellite is controlled to be sure it's not a nuclear bomb ?

Sure, it's difficult to predict if the explosion will be a E1 or E3 type of nemp. E1 destroy all electronics component, E3 destroy transformers.

Last edited by dcv; September 30th, 2012 at 12:13 AM.
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Old January 16th, 2013   #2
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First off, I really doubt there's any nuclear bombs in orbit. Nuclear weapons require frequent maintenance and are therefore rather unsuited for that sort of application.

As for some random country launching one on a commercial rocket, I really doubt that. Even if you have the money they won't just let you send up any odd thing
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Old January 16th, 2013   #3
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The first stumbling block to the idea that there may be nuclear weapons in space is the Outer Space Treaty signed in the late 60's which explicitly prohibits that from happening.

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States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
Outer Space Treaty
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Old January 16th, 2013   #4
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The other problem being of course, that any country with the technology to launch such a satellite would likely suffer as much as any intended target. It's like having a hand grenade fight in a greenhouse, it'll be messy.
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Old February 26th, 2013   #5
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This is not as ridiculous as the rest of the posters in this thread are making it out to be. Plenty of countries (The United States included) have in the past been accused (perhaps accurately) of using LEO launch vehicle tests as missile tests. This is actually what the early phases of the space race are generally perceived as being about.

The outer space treaty does in fact prohibit the placement of nuclear weapons in outer space. But treaties are not always adhered to, and often withdrawn from when they become too stifling (The United States was going to withdraw form the outer-space treaty if the nuclear-pumped X-Ray laser tested by the SDI worked, for example).

So, what happens if you detonate a nuclear weapon in space for the express purpose of creating a large electromagnetic pulse?

Let's examine what happened when the United States conducted its Starfish Prime high-altitude test in 1962. A W49 warhead (yield: 1.4 MT) was detonated at an altitude of 400 km (250 mi). The electromagnetic pulse it created was so much larger than expected that the instruments at the time could not register them, but it did knock out the power in the city of Honolulu, Hawaii 1,445 km (898 mi) away. I think that's quite a spectacular result.

While such a thing is possible, no rogue state has developed thermonuclear weapons capability, and that is quite a jump from nuclear weapons capability. A very simple nuclear weapon can be made using only explosives and Uranium-235 (Called a uranium gun design, not widely produced because of the superiority of the plutonium pit method, but the Little Boy is an example of this type of device). A Tellam-Uller bomb requires U-235, Pu-239, Po-210, H-2 , Li-6, U-238, and probably another whole host of hard to acquire material that I can't remember off of the top of my head. After a someone develops initial refinery capabilities however, they aren't too far off (The United States tested its first two-stage weapon in 1952, 8 years after initially refining enough uranium and plutonium for the WWII weapons). So a state such as North Korea developing thermonuclear weapons is within the realm of possibility.

Now, for the real question, why would anyone bother doing such a thing if they could simply deliver the weapon to a target like the major powers do with an ICBM? Well, it turns out that developing orbital launch capability is quite substantially easier than extremely long range ICBMs, even if the technologies are similar. Both North Korea and Iran have the ability to launch things into orbit, neither can deliver a missile to the US. Such an option would no doubt appeal to them.

So, in summary, while a little off-color, the idea isn't as completely ridiculous as everyone else seems to be making it out to be
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Old March 15th, 2013
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Old March 15th, 2013   #6
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This would be the serious problem there should be system for tracking this in every satellite launch station their should be person from some organization which keep watch on this type of activity for sure.
It's called NORAD....
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Old March 15th, 2013
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Old April 5th, 2013   #7
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It's called NORAD....
Actually, tracking satellites after they're too cool to be easily tracked with SBIRS is a huge pain. There's a DARPA project working on it, though
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Old April 9th, 2013
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Old April 9th, 2013   #8
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First off, I really doubt there's any nuclear bombs in orbit. Nuclear weapons require frequent maintenance and are therefore rather unsuited for that sort of application.

As for some random country launching one on a commercial rocket, I really doubt that. Even if you have the money they won't just let you send up any odd thing
The space station could send people out to do maintenance, but I think it would be a waste of time

I'd also imagine that the entry through the atmosphere would probably be pretty rough for a nuke
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Old April 9th, 2013   #9
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Lobos82, please read the forum rules about one liners. Please put a bit of effort in your posts to actually contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way, at the minute it just looks like you're trying to increase your post count.

I do appreciate you're new here mate (so welcome aboard), so this is just a little reminder.


www.defencetalk.com/forums/rules.php
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Old October 31st, 2013
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Old July 15th, 2014   #10
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I do not think so it would be right to launch a nuclear satellite as there are already enough technology to defend oneself. A nuclear satellite would destroy the world in the wink of an eye, hence i do not support nuclear satellite launch
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