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"Common sense, and looking at spending the money where it has the greatest impact and return makes, shutting down LORAN makes more sense than not." I'm not sure about that. Does your financial analysis consider the costs of instantly replicating and deploying a replacement system, if one should become necessary, versus maintaining the existing one?
Pleasure boaters can be ignored, they're just tourists. But consider, what would happen to commercial shipping *IF* for any reason the GPS system went down and there was no alternative in place. With LORAN still being operated, traffic just (ha!) stops for 48 hours while Fedex breaks out the boxes and cleans out the inventory. With no LORAN...traffic stops period.
Do I think the GPS system will go down? No, no way. The system is robust and two more (Russian and EU) should be online within the year or two. I don' think the ragheads are smart enough to knock it down, and I don't think the Chinese are dumb enough to knock it down. Still...To me, shutting down the LORAN system is like closing airfields and shipyards and then building condos on them. May the Gods help us if we ever need them again--because there will be no place to build them!
Could a clever adversary take the GPS system down? I suspect so, the mechanics of it wouldn't be all that hard given a few key steps, that aren't altogether impossible in coming years. Shutting down the shipping industry for a while would be a good way to cripple many things, and while ships managed quite well before GPS...I don't think they really would want to dust off their sextants for daily use.
Then again, maybe it would be cheaper to shut down LORAN and put the money into an extra dozen spare birds waiting to go into orbit. Or maybe the USN already has those, sitting in a warehouse someplace. That one's above my pay grade.
I just think the decision needs to be made VERY carefully, and not entirely as our usual short-term budget decisions are. As Pearl Harbor and the more recent USS Cole have proved, even the US Navy can be terribly wrong about threat assessment.
The China story is old news being used as domestic terrorism by our Congressmen. Both the US and the USSR conducted missile killer tests in the 60's after Sputnik. There's nothing new here, except the fact that there is now so much DEBRIS in orbit that scientists are seriously debating whether it has reached the point where it starts to cascade--and what's already up there will start killing everything new we launch, simply by accident.
Last edited by hellosailor; 02-09-2007 at 12:34 AM.