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 whomever 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 citizenís 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