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FIRE FROM THE SKY: Battle of Harvest Moon & True Story of Space Shuttles

by "One Who Knows"


Remember *Sputnik?* I first saw it one day as I was out in the field
choppin' cotten (it pains me to realize that some of my readers will not
even know what choppin' cotten is). *Sputnik I* was a 184 pound ball
launched by an SS-6 ICBM by Russia at 9:36 P.M. on October 4, 1957. It was
highly polished to make it easier to see, and carried a radio transmitting
at a frequency that made it easy for ham radio operators to track. Our
government made fun of the rocket, contemptuously calling by the code name
Sapwood. The MIT humor magazine *Voodoo* had a cartoon of a cutaway
*Sputnik* with a bearded Russian inside saying, "Beep...beep...beep."

A month later Russia launched the Sputnik 2, which weighed 1,119 pounds
which was in the warhead range. Although we still made fun of Russia (the
Senate majority leader said we were going to launch a better satellite,
with chrome trim and windshield wipers), President Eisenhower took special
note of the missile. Russia had leap-frogged our expensive bomber system
and was becoming able to deliver warheads with their ICBMs. Between 1956
and 1960 Ike sent over 20 U-2 flights over Russia to try to learn Russia's
missile capabilities. Every U-2 flight was monitored by radar by Russia.
Our Air Force reported that Russia would have a thousand ICBMs by 1961.

Two years after *Sputnik* we launched our *Discoverer* satellite, which had
a camera and did a lot more than beep. We had a program called Pied Piper
which did become SAMOS (Satellite and Missile Observation System). The
first SAMOS launch was October 11, 1960, which failed, and SAMOS 2 was
launched into orbit on January 31, 1961. The final SAMOS 30 was November
27, 1963, although officially the final *Discoverer* was 38 launched on
February 27, 1962. At this point the program was changed and some of the
satellites were back-named. The new program was KeyHole, and the satellites
were called KH-1s (*Discoverers* were renamed KH-4s).

One of the most secret branches of the government was/is the National
Reconnaissance Office, established officially on August 25, 1960. I believe
that one reason for its establishment had to do with flying saucers, but
that is another story. NRO developed the KH-11 (By a man named Kennan) spy
(photo [and other]-reconnaissance) satellite in 1972. One of the projects I
worked on at Control Data involved the KH-11. The KH-11 was used for such
things as finding where the hostages were held in the Iranian Embassy and
supposedly for observing the heat shield tiles on the Shuttle. It is
obvious to me that they were also used to observe flying saucers, but then
we all know flying saucers "*do not* exist* so I must be wrong, right?

America knew that Russia's orbital fleet of manned Cosmos Interceptors
would destroy the Shuttle, but planners hoped that before this happened the
satellite would be able to radio back enough targeting information for a
nuclear missile first strike. The first mission was a frantic rush job, and
had to be manned because of the secret cargo.

If the Shuttle reached orbit, the astronauts were to be required to deploy
the military satellite inside the cargo bay. The satellite was basically a
spy satellite, but it was also much more. In order to do its job, it was
designed to fend off Russian space weapons for as long as possible. As a
result, it would be nothing less than a robot battle station in space. It
was a "hardened satellite" able to withstand an attack without being easily
destroyed, or so they hoped. It was equipped with active defenses, it could
"shoot back."

All the components of the satellite were crammed into the cargo bay of the
Shuttle *Columbia.* They were already there when the *Columbia* was rolled
out the prior November. Once in orbit, the job of the astronauts, John
Young and Robert Crippen, would be to assemble it and to get it operating,
and rapidly.


Once it would be assembled and floating in space, the satellite would look
like a giant rotating tin can perhaps 30 feet long and 20 feet in diameter,
but on closer inspection it would seem to be made more like a wooden barrel
except that the barrel staves are all made of tungsten.

Inside the outermost tungsten barrel was another smaller barrel and inside
that was a still smaller barrel. At the very center was the heart of the
satellite itself. The tungsten barrels were separated from one another by a
foot or more of space. There was also considerable space between the
innermost barrel and the core satellite. The tungsten barrels constitute
the passive defense of the satellite. If a Charged Particle Beam blast
would strike the outermost barrel, it would vaporize a spot on the barrel
but in the process it would absorb energy and diffuse the beam. In theory,
that would greatly reduce the damage done to the second barrel and do no
damage whatsoever to the innermost barrel. Tungsten has the highest melting
point of any workable metal in service at the time, so this system of
particle beam shields was expected to last through a number of battles.

The three-layer tungsten shield system was also instrumented. When a blast
would strike it, the blast pattern would be sensed as an initial indication
of from which direction came the attack. A computer within the core
satellite would then activate a secret new target acquisition system called
LADAR (Laser Direction And Ranging). The removable barrel stave sections of
the rotating tungsten shields would be opened. LADAR would peek out through
the openings as they rotated past in ultra-fast scanning.

In the black void of space, LADAR was expected to be much more efficient
than radar, picking up the Russian attacker very quickly, and the moment it
would do so, the American robot battle station would open fire. When it did
so, it would pose a major threat even to a Russian Cosmos Interceptor
because the American satellite would be armed with a giant carbon dioxide
gas dynamic blaser (CDDB).