I saw the movie Walle yesterday with my youngest son. The movie was fantastic! While the aim of the movie was to entertain, there were certainly "green" issues shown. This is a good thing. However, there was one part of the movie that made me think a little.
At one scene, the hero Walle holds onto a space ship as it launches. When they pass out of the Earth's atmosphere, they break through a solid ring of dead satellites.
Currently there are some 500 working satelittes in orbit and several thousand that are dead, space junk. We rely quite heavily upon satellites for things such as gps, meterology, earthquake study, communication, television, radio, and national defense.
These satellites are pretty safe from bad guys. Trying to damage or shoot down a moving satellite is pretty difficult. However, in recent years we have begun to see new technology move us closer to civilian population of space. This will start with Virgin Galactic and other space tourism ventures. In these, thrill seekers will go into space for a few short minutes of weightlessness.
Over time, the technology will become more reliable just as the airplane did in the first part of the 20th century. Eventually, there will be loads more people and stuff in low earth orbit. This presents the problem. If you can get people into space, then you will be able to put satellites into space cheaper too. What if someone designed a small "hunter" satellite that could seek out a target and push it out of orbit or simply damage it by getting close enough and exploding.
The resulting space terrorism would mean constant interruptions in our communications and financial systems and so much more. It would present all sorts of problems for those entrusted with protecting these things. (How do you protect a 20 pound, flimsy satellite from an attack?)
Now for the scary part: The FDA is moving forward with replacing the outdated radar systems at airports with GPS systems. Without GPS, pilots would be able to revert to using visual navigation, however, air traffic controllers would be blind.
Okay, so my prediction is that within the next 10 years, there will be an attack upon a satellite in orbit.