Sputnik Satellite's 50th Anniversary Today

Today is the 50th anniversary of Russia's Sputnik satellite. Sputnik translates into "Traveling companion of the earth", was "23 inches in diameter and 184 pounds, with four feathery antennas swept back like a windblown comb-over from its high-gloss sphere." Some credit the unexpected launch of Sputnik with kicking off the space race. Steven Winn's piece on the satellite is sweeping and moving and every gadget head should give it a pass. [SFGate]

DISCUSSION

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docsunstroke

Hi INFMOM! Remember Echo, Too? There is a new US Satellite on the Horizon. The Pentagon is very interested.

News agencies in the U.S. have been recently writing and posting articles about "the power from above", meaning deploying very large satellites in geosynchronous orbit to harness energy from the Sun and beam it down to Earth in the form of intense microwaves for instant conversion into electricity. If all goes well, these solsats could supply entire cities with enormous amounts of power, and at the same time be utilized as space-based weapons systems.

Sound like science fiction? Yes, especially considering the fact that a grand Sci-fi novel based on this concept has already been published. But more about this book a little later. First, let's take a closer look at this proposed project.

Also you might want to check out a very recent article by [space.com] that states a solar power demonstration satellite will be deployed in orbit by the Pentagon in the next five to seven years. You can read this story here:

[www.space.com]

What would be the effect on the ionosphere from such a satellite utilizing high-intensity microwaves for power-beaming solar electricity to Earth? According to the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment and the EPA, ionospheric heating induced by microwaves at the established 2.45 gigahertz frequency from a solsat could severely disrupt telecommunications satellites and TV/radio signals that rely on the ionosphere to reflect them. Also tropospheric heating by such a microwave beam could result in negative weather modifications. Heating of biological tissue (humans, plants, animals) would occur at ground level from the microwave beam's 23 milliwatt per square centimeter surface intensity (or greater, depending on the satellite's size). Enough to cook us.

There is a really good Sci-fi book titled Sunstroke written by David Kagan (The Berkely Publishing Group, NY), that depicts the deployment and operation of Solsat X-1, involving some unforeseen and most devastating results. Sort of like placing the environment into a gigantic microwave oven set on high, with many surprises along the way.

It's up to all of us to decide whether or not Sunstroke becomes reality.

Please let me know your feelings about this very important subject.