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What Would Happen If All Our Satellites Were Suddenly Destroyed?

June 13, 2015

George Dvorsky
Filed to: DAILY EXPLAINER

Since their inception 60 years ago, satellites have gone on to become an indispensable component of our modern high-tech civilization. But because they’re reliable and practically invisible, we take their existence for granted. Here’s what would happen if all our satellites suddenly just disappeared.

The idea that all the satellites — or at least good portion of them — could be rendered inoperable is not as outlandish as it might seem at first. There are at least three plausible scenarios in which this could happen.

As portrayed in the soon-to-be-released science fiction thriller Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, satellites could be deliberately knocked out of action by warring nations. In this book, set in the near future, authors P. W Singer and August Cole describe describe a war in which the Chinese military use anti-satellite satellites to direct high-energy weapons at sensitive U.S. targets. Dozens of satellites are rendered useless before the action on the ground even gets started.

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