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Organizing Notes


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Our Mission

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.

Logo of Space Warfare Centre, Colorado Springs

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 the sky.

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 and Mars.

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 resisted.

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
Secretary/Coordinator

US Space Command - Masters of Space

 
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OBJECTIVES & DEMANDS FOR SPACE

  • Apply space technology to social and environmental needs here on Earth
  • Explore alternative technology paths for space power and propulsion
     
  • Solve problems on planet Earth instead of creating new imbalances and conflicts in space
     
  • Prevent confrontation, enhance international cooperation in space - More Details 
     
  • Ban space weapons and space military installations by national and international laws
     
  • Avoid oversized, costly and risky space projects  - More Details
     
  • Ban the use of nuclear power in space
     
  • Encourage and foster global democratic debate about space exploration and colonization
     
  • Strengthen existing international space laws that call for collective use of celestial bodies

 
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PREVENT CONFRONTATION: ENHANCE INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN SPACE

We stand on the brink of an era in which unrestrained and anarchic, slash-and-burn capitalism degrades the environment, while instituting no methods for conserving, forcing people to become rivals for shrinking natural resources.

Sovereign states are dragged into ever more dangerous rivalries. Manageable differences are turning into intractable conflicts. Peace is continually at risk.

In the coming century, ideological rivalries may well be succeeded by Malthusian wars of scarcity.

As natural resources on Earth are depleted, technologically capable societies will undoubtedly compete for the material resources of space.

During the Cold War between the two dominant space powers, (the U.S. and Soviet Union) military uses of space emerged before international consensus on the protection and utilization of space could be achieved.

Little progress has been made in realizing the ideal goal of "the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes" enshrined in the preamble to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

Now more aggressively than ever before, the United States has outlined a clear agenda to gain military dominance of space, thereby maintaining control of the resources to be found there.

Without a total ban on space weapons in place, conflicts over shrinking Earth resources and economic power, coupled with the need for equal access to space resources, could force many emerging space powers into embarking on their own space weapons programs.

And although the U.S. remains the world’s premier military power, it has little control over the transfer of technologies on which military efficiency now depends.

To an emerging space power, the issue of elimination of space weapons is of paramount importance.

NOW is the time for the United Nations (including existing and emerging space powers) to assert itself.

The U.S. is increasingly at odds with other so-called "western" societies in many of its domestic and foreign policies. Space must not be allowed to become the next "client region" of the U.S.

The international community of nations must be joined by the citizenry of the U.S. to force Congress and subsequent administrations to steer our national policy towards the development of a truly non-discriminatory regime governing the safe and peaceful access to and use of the material resources of space by all countries.

Broad international cooperation and participation in large-scale space programs could conceivably help to stabilize funding, schedules and other factors otherwise subject to short-term political needs.

But any regime for the exploration and use of outer space must also include clear definitions of space weapons and a delineation of space itself that would facilitate verification of a comprehensive ban on weapons in space.

The absence of such a clear international regime governing the peaceful, and potentially non-peaceful use of outer space, jeopardizes the long-term interests of the entire world.

One hundred years from now, let humans look back on this moment as the beginning of a cooperative effort that was successful in creating a fair and permanent partnership for Earthlings beyond the planet.
 

 
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DO WE REALLY WANT TO SPEND THIS MUCH MONEY?

The International Space Station (ISS) has been on the drawing boards and in the imagination of the folks at NASA for a long time. Originally, it wasn’t going to be international in nature. It was going to be ours (USA), entirely. But the incredible costs associated with this largest of space projects eventually made the participation of other countries necessary. Besides, it’s good public relations. Twenty years ago the idea of working jointly with the Russians on a project of this magnitude was unthinkable. But the economic realities in both countries and the desire to exert an influence over the crumbling Russian military-industrial complex made the improbable quite possible.

The original cost estimates were $21.3 billion. These were of course, way under what the people in the know believed, but it got the ball rolling with an initial appropriation from Congress. The U.S. portion of that was to be $17.3 billion. Then suddenly, "new" factors were discovered. The costs suddenly ballooned to $40 billion. Recently, NASA critics have ventured estimates as high as $100 billion over the seven year construction time table. Presumably, we tax payers will be asked to foot the bill for the lion’s share of this total. NASA contracted with a British firm to calculate the probability of a failure of one of the major systems critical to the mission’s completion. Its estimate: 73.6%. Does this mean we’re looking at a 73.6% chance of another shuttle going up in a ball of flames as horrified school kids watch? What could possibly justify taking these dangerous risks and spending these sums of money?

It is necessary to take a look at why these astronomical sums are being budgeted. Take water. We human beings can’t live without it. And though NASA has made incredible strides in water purification processes in space, it will still be necessary to haul more water into space each time the shuttle goes up for a resupply mission. According to an article in The New Republic (11-30-98), the cost to send four gallons of water up on the shuttle is about $320,000. To quote the article, "So there will be a space station crew, floating in an orbital hotel, consuming $320,000 worth of bottled water per person each day. Estimated annual bottled water cost for the station: $817,000,000. Is this a defensible use of public funds?" This question has yet to be answered.

Recently, another fly has been thrown into the ointment. Our partners on the ISS project aren’t all happy about this one. NASA has announced that they must have a section of the station in which certain experiments can be kept secret from other participants. In order to help offset the enormous operating costs, estimated at $2.1 billion per year, NASA needs to privatize large portions of the station operations. If private industry (read military industrial complex) is to be expected to fork over money, they’ll have to have proprietary rights to anything they develop in the micro gravity environment of space. Needless to say, our partners on the space station aren’t going to like it when they’re told there is a portion of the station that’s off limits to them. And suppose the Japanese, who are a major player in the ISS project, want a section of the station walled off for their own companies to experiment in private? How will this effect morale and behavior on this large, but in reality, claustrophobic, space craft? It appears we’re building in a real potential for negative consequences.

And speaking of negative consequences, what about those unstable, raving paranoids in the U.S. Space Command? It seems almost certain that if there’s to be a secret room on the station, they’ll want a hand in selecting who gets in there and what they do once they’re in. Will some of the secret experiments be directed toward space weapons research? Where would we find a Congressperson willing to stand up in a closed committee hearing and say, "This is wrong. The people of the U.S. didn’t mean for this type of unlawful experiment to take place on the ISS that we were asked to fund?" Who knows, maybe it would happen that way.

There is an alternative. If the ISS is to be built, there should be strict adherence to the treaties in place now and compliance with them should be enforced by open hearings in Congress. Secret sections of the station should be out of the question. The idea that we taxpayers should have to subsidize the research conducted by private corporations and then be denied the benefits of that research is ludicrous, no matter how much precedent has been set in the past. There’s really no way to get our money’s worth from an $80,000 gallon of water, but at least we ought to try.

Dave Hartgrove
Daytona Beach, Florida

 

 
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MAGIC BULLET ORGANIZING STRATEGY

The following comes from the Global Network's space organizing conference and protest in Huntsville, Alabama March 16-18 2001.

  1. Hard work, the field must be plowed for the fruit to flourish
  2. Determination & persistence
  3. Cooperative spirit
  4. Principled work with others
  5. Imagination and creativity
  6. Change the language, don't get technical, put the issue on our terms
  7. Make connections with anti-globalization movement & show them we are fighting the same struggle
  8. Demand that Congress support cuts in "missile defense" program
  9. Put out a booklet like "Vision for 20/20" of our own
  10. Talk to people in international organizations about what is happening with corporations in their countries
  11. Put out a call to world leaders for international solidarity
  12. Support campaign finance reform
  13. Mobilize the grassroots. Local work is vital
  14. Read "Guns, Globalization, and Greed" by the War Resisters League
  15. Return to our principles of non-violence
  16. We should not be afraid, respect that there is something greater than us that is stronger than evil/destruction
  17. Go to as many public forums as possible and create a healthy tension
  18. Need to know where Star Wars research & development work is happening and go there for public protests. Create local debate.
  19. Tell our children that there are some jobs you cannot have
  20. Need to have a community of people that you can rely on
  21. Need to be willing to face arrest for standing against Star Wars
  22. Simplify your life
  23. Connect with all groups. We must work together. Listen to each other. We each have a piece of the puzzle. We need each other.
  24. Watch out for when politicians and some organizations begin to cut deals undermining the work of the grassroots
  25. Go home and organize delegations of ordinary people, every month, to visit politicians offices (do the same with the media)
  26. Read "The Education of Little Tree"
  27. Organize October 13 local actions in your community
  28. Keep having fun
  29. Respect the people who we are trying to organize
  30. Remember the moon and ask people if they want military bases there
  31. Get students and elders knowing each other and working together
  32. Talk more about how Star Wars will require cuts in social spending, education, and environmental clean-up
  33. Speak from your heart and represent the mother earth
  34. Be willing to do the most difficult things

 
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