STATEMENT OF CONCERN
The arms race is moving into space. The U.S. Space
Command, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has publicly stated
that it intends "to control space in order to protect U.S. interests and
investments." It is crucial that the movement to stop this new round in
the arms race moves quickly ahead.
During the Persian Gulf War the U.S. became convinced that whoever
controls space will be able to project force "in space, from space and
into space". The Pentagon believes that future military success will
depend on space capabilities.
Using current satellite technologies the U.S. is able to intercept
communications from anywhere on Earth and is able to identify and target any
"enemy" that it wishes. Through this "control" the U.S.
intends to "dominate" the Earth and beyond. These same satellite
capabilities also allow the U.S. to spy on private citizens and companies.
In England, women activists at the Menwith Hill
U.S. spy base have helped to reveal the dangers to our civil liberties
by these facilities. They have uncovered official U.S. documentation proving
that the spy base is eavesdropping on English citizen’s private communications.
But there are obstacles to U.S. space "dominance". Present
international space law speaks against the notion of U.S. space control. The
Outer Space Treaty of 1967, signed by the U.S. and 90 other countries,
affirms "the peaceful purposes" of outer space and forbids
"weapons of mass destruction" from being deployed in space.
This same space law also declares that all interplanetary bodies belong
to the common good. As NASA lands on the moon and Mars and explores other
planets they are finding gold, cobalt, magnesium, helium 3 and other rich
resources. Plans are now underway to place mining colonies on these bodies.
The U.S. is now exploring ways to circumvent international space law in
order to "exploit" these planetary bodies so that corporate interests
may secure the enormous financial benefits expected from this Mining the Sky
as is described by NASA scientist John Lewis in his book by the same title.
The Columbus mythology is often invoked to describe our "manifest
destiny" as it relates to space exploration and colonization. The noble
explorer theme is used to cover the more practical notion of profits to be
made in regards to space.
There is big money to be made building and launching rockets. There is
money to be made building and launching satellites. There is money and power
to be derived by "controlling" space. And there is money to be made mining
Another obstacle exists though. If the U.S. can "control" space,
so might another nation. Thus we have the early stages of an arms race in
space. How will France, Russia, China or any other nation respond as the
U.S. consolidates its "control" of space?
In order to ensure that the Pentagon maintains its current space military
superiority the U.S. Space Command is now developing new war fighting
technologies like the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and Anti-satellite
weapons (ASATS) as well as space based laser weapons. Star Wars is alive and
well. Recent efforts to move toward early deployment of the BMD system,
which could easily be used for offensive purposes, is expected to break the
1972 ABM Treaty as well as the Outer Space Treaty.
Nuclear power in space becomes a key ingredient in the plans for space
colonization and domination. Nuclear power is seen by NASA as an appropriate
power source for interplanetary missions. Nuclear rockets are envisioned for
trips to Mars and nuclear powered mining colonies are planned for the moon
At the same time the U.S. Space Command sees nuclear power as the primary
source for the enormous amounts of power generation that will be required
for space weapons. The Department of Energy (DoE) laboratories throughout
the U.S., casting about for a new role as the need for more nuclear weapons
diminishes, views space as a great new opportunity for their on-going
nuclear production work. Labs like Hanford (Washington state); Savannah
River Plant (South Carolina); Los Alamos (New Mexico); Lawrence Livermore
(California); and INEL (Idaho) are already heavily involved in space nuclear
power production efforts.
As we prepare to move into the 21st century it is crucial for peace and
environmental activists to view space as an area of concern. The enormous
expenditures of our tax revenues for space must be questioned. The morality
and ethics of moving an arms race into space must be vigorously debated. The
environmental consequences of U.S. space policy must be explored and
But most importantly, the question of the kind of seed we carry from
earth into the heavens must be considered by the people of our planet. Are
we to allow the U.S., and other nations, to carry the bad seed of warfare,
greed, exploitation and environmental contamination into space?
The Columbus mythology does indeed fit. Only it reminds us that the
single mindedness that pursues profits and power in the "New World"
will also carry grave implications for centuries to come.
Now is our brief chance in history to prevent a great wrong from
occurring. Now is the time that we must organize a global call to resist the
nuclearization and weaponization of space. We must make space for peace.
Bruce K. Gagnon