Jeffrey LewisDIY ASAT

Iowa State students taking Aerospace Engineering 462: Design of Aerospace Systems had a novel idea for a course project: Design an air launched anti-satellite weapon.

What is needed by the Air Force is a new and inexpensive design that improves upon the capabilities of the previously designed missile and re-extends the United States’ grasp on satellite defense in outer space. These satellites will need to be removed by the most logical, inexpensive, and safe means as possible. It is proposed to build an anti-satellite missile capable of launch from a modern aircraft to destroy an enemy satellite in orbit.

This project will develop an anti-satellite missile with the following specification goals:

1. Launch from a current aircraft, either currently in or nearing production.
2. Emergency self destruct mechanism.
3. Maximum launch weight of 1800 kg.
4. Triple redundancy for all systems.
5. Reserve kill system.
6. Resistant to satellite defense mechanisms.
7. Minimum kill payload of 20 kg.
8. 1000km maximum altitude.

No mention of a systemt to mitigate orbital debris, which has been the principle objection to kinetic kill anti-satellite weapons.


  1. AHM (History)

    Now if this were posted on a Chinese university’s website, we’d have announcements by the Pentagon within days that the Chinese military was secretly developing a new air-launched anti-satellite weapon at a special research facility with the intention of achieving space dominance by 2010…

    Never mind that the web designer doesn’t understand how to use frames properly.

  2. Muskrat (History)

    Hey, the rules don’t say “no fratricide allowed.” In fact, orbital debris may be a vital component of the design, if the engineers are pool players:
    “COMBINATION. (Pocket games) Shot in which the cue ball first strikes a ball other than the one to be pocketed, with the ball initially contacted in turn striking one or more other balls in an effort to score.”

  3. John (History)