IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO READ ALL OF THIS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD READ ONLY THE LAST PARAGRAPH !
In the emerging, less controllable world of global commerce and borderless nations, the military medium of dominance and, hence, of choice to power elites
will be the aerospace continuum because of its universal, rapid access and unique vantage point. Hence, the control and exploitation of that medium, more than any other, will offer the widest range of military options and the greatest degree of military power.
— Carl H. Builder, 1994http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/acsc/00-172.pdf
Laser ASAT weapons may soon be employed by hostile nations to engage and jeopardize U.S space assets.
Let’s consider three basing schemes for potential laser ASAT weapon systems: ground-, air- and space-based, where we’ll very briefly analyze the required laser system, the propagation medium and the possible satellite targets
To strike a satellite target in space-to-space engagements, the SBL would not need to overcome the transmission, turbulence and blooming atmospheric limitations inherent with the GBL and ABL as the laser beam propagated. Based on CW power requirements, the most likely CW laser candidate for a SBL would be the HF laser capable of producing multi-megawatt power at 2.7 μm wavelength with practically 100% transmission in space.15 Therefore, the laser system
would be best placed at a location so it could attack satellites when in line-of-sight range or by using a space-based mirror relay satellite architecture.
Satellite targets in jeopardy of being engaged by SBLs are driven by the SBL’s location and on the orbit of the satellite. An adversary using a few orbiting SBLs or an SBL and a space-based mirror relay constellation could essentially place all US space assets at great risk of engagement and exert global space control dominance. Due to range limitations, SBLs would be most lethal to the closest LEO and MEO orbiting satellites; for instance, the DMSP, GPS, Globalstar, Iridium, Landsat and SPOT.16 However, as before, since the SBLs and target satellites orbit in various orbital planes and travel at different velocities, they would still give an adversary complicated engagement challenges. On the other hand, satellite targets in GEO would have shorter ranges to the SBL than the GBL or ABL and would be much easier to engage
Laser Weapons used for Satellite “Soft Kills’
Laser weapons offer a subtle means of satellite engagement—disrupting, disabling, degrading, confusing, deceiving, delaying, denying or destroying—and may be performed, overtly or covertly, by adversaries for strategic attack. We’ll classify laser ASAT attacks without the means to verify an immediately or totally destroyed satellite as a “soft kill.” In general, lasers inflict damage on targets; i.e., satellites, by directing laser energy onto the target area for a certain time period. CW lasers need to dwell on the target surface for a sufficient amount of time to inflict thermal induced damage, while a pulsed laser’s “kill mechanism” is to damage targets by blowing off part of the surface, thus forming a plasma
Laser Weapons used for Satellite “Hard Kills”
Laser weapons also offer unmistakable means of strategic attack against satellites that may be performed, either overtly or covertly, by adversaries that we’ll classify as “hard kills.” A hard kill for a satellite would mean the ability to verify an immediate and catastrophic destruction of a targeted satellite rendering it unable to operate. As mentioned earlier, potential enemies can attack US space-based systems by attacking some or all of their major subsystems: attitude control; electrical power and distributions; thermal control; structural; tracking, telemetry and control; and other payload subsystemsTo immediately destroy almost anything, we need to properly apply 10,000 Joules
of energy based on two assumptions: (1) to vaporize 1 gram of almost any material, such as aluminum, requires approximately 10,000 Joules of energy
and (2) the removal of 1 gram of material from a vital spot on a target will most likely destroy the target.23 Due to the inability of most lasers to “hit” a satellite with 10,000 Joules of energy, adversaries could still produce spectacular and prompt satellite destruction of some US satellites at about 1,000 Watts/cm2 (1,000 Joules of energy applied for 1 second) when directed onto a satellite.24 For example, an adversary could use a laser to destroy a US satellite by igniting or expending the satellite’s fuel, by putting a hole through the skin and fuel tank of the satellite, by rupturing pressure vessels, by destroying solar panels, by blinding sensors, or by damaging antennas. This type of direct attack would inflict immediate, verifiable damage and possibly cause the satellite to tumble out of control or explode. The appropriate time on target to immediately destroy a satellite depends upon the laser system and target satellite’s location, but should not need more than several seconds at intensities greater than 1,000 Watts/cm2.
Got that - they can "vaporise" any