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Thursday, February 15, 2007

In bow to Beijing, Google censors anti-satellite test graphic

Internet search engine company Google has self-censored a graphic produced by three MIT researchers showing the trajectory and impact of China’s Jan. 11 anti-satellite test.

According to officials, three MIT researchers, Geoff Forden, Ted Postol and Subrata Ghoshroy, produced a color graphic showing the flight path of the missile that destroyed an orbiting Chinese weather satellite by ramming it with a non-explosive warhead.

The researchers said the test proved that China is “part of the small but unfortunately growing club of countries that can accomplish the difficult task of hypervelocity interceptions in space.”

“As a signal to the world, this test highlighted both China’s technological prowess and the fact that China will not quietly stand by while the United States tries to expand its influence in the region with new measures such as the US-India nuclear deal,” the MIT researchers stated.

“We have analyzed the orbits of the debris from this interception and from that put limits on the properties of the interceptor,” they stated. “We find that not only can China threaten low-Earth orbit satellites but, by mounting the same interceptor on one of its rockets capable of lofting a satellite into geostationary orbit, all of the U.S. communications satellites.”

Last year, Google's senior policy counsel, Andrew McLaughlin, defended the censorship saying the company sought to balance commitments ''to satisfy the interests of users, expand access to information, and respond to local conditions."

''While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission," McLaughlin said in an email statement to the Associated Press, ''providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission."

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