lørdag 6. november 2021

Sputnik was a wakeup call for the US. China's 'hypersonic missile' is a trickier challenge

"Listen now, for the sound that forevermore separates the old from the new."

That was how NBC radio introduced the signal from the first satellite in space, on October 4, 1957.
But it wasn't a triumph of American science: The sound came from the Soviet Union's Sputnik, a piece of hardware the size of a beach ball whose launch stunned the world -- and the United States in particular.

The phrase "Sputnik moment" was coined to mark the moment. It signified shock at the loss of a presumed superiority, a rival's technological leap that might wreck the nuclear balance of power. The then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower professed to be worried "not one iota" about Sputnik, but public and political reaction in the US was less sanguine. "Russian science whipped American science," screamed the Boston Globe.Last week, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, recalled the "Sputnik moment" when he spoke about China's test of one or more hypersonic missiles this summer.

"What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning," Milley said. "I don't know if it's quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it's very close to that."