Skip to comments.Think Tank Warns Against Space Weapons Systems
Posted on 01/22/2004 5:18:02 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
Satellites orbiting high above Earth are a crucial resource for the U.S. military in terms of communications, reconnaissance and global positioning. But a new report warns that too much of a space military presence, mainly the use of space-based weapons systems, may inevitably cause more problems than they're meant to solve
Should the U.S. military "weaponize" space, the report states, it will most likely be affect global commerce, weaken American ties with other nations and eventually lead to space weapons proliferation as other groups develop countermeasures or their own space weapons systems.
The study, called Space Assurance or Space Domination? The Case Against Weaponizing Space , was released by the Henry L. Stimson Center, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank aimed at enhancing international peace and security.
"When you weaponize space, you invite company," said Michael Krepon, who wrote the report and served as the founding president of the Stimson Center. "When we go first, others will come second. That is an absolute certainty."
Once killer satellites start destroying one another above Earth, they will cause space debris that could harm benign satellites used by civilian agencies and companies around the world, which in turn affects global economy, according to the Stimson report.
If other nations or groups choose not to put their own space weapons in orbit, they could develop ground-based countermeasures like electronic jamming or spoofing devices to confuse U.S. machines. A ballistic missile could disable satellites in low-earth orbit by detonating a nuclear device, subjecting any ground troops relying intelligence from those satellites to possible attack, the study noted.
Finally, the report added, space weapons systems could hurt U.S. diplomatic ties on the ground, with other nations constantly mindful of its space forces in Earth orbit.
Krepon said there is a distinction between the current militarization of space -- which uses satellites to support forces on the ground -- and weaponization, defined in the study as the flight-testing and deployment of any system to specifically as systems used to "fight a war in space or from space, or military capabilities on the ground designed to kill satellites in space."
The U.S. military has had an established foothold in space for decades and its application in wartime was visually apparent during the recent war, and current occupation, in Iraq. Military forces there from the U.S. and other nations, rely heavily on satellites on everything from weather forecasts to signal detection and photointelligence.
Krepon said the United States Air Force (USAF), in particular, is creeping close to the threshold of space weaponization with its XSS satellite program. The XSS program, short for Experimental Satellite System, consists of a series of microsatellites smaller than 100 kilograms.
One such satellite, XSS-10, was successfully launched in 2003. Weighing about 62 pounds (28 kilograms), it demonstrated the ability to be activated soon after launch, maneuver close to its spent rocket and broadcast live video of the booster to officials on the ground. A follow-up mission, XSS-11, was set to conduct a similar mission -- but over a longer period of time -- sometime this year.
"But a maneuverable satellite like that could also be used to disable, stun, dazzle or destroy an object," Krepon told SPACE.com. Even if the U.S. military moves forward with a non-destructive system, one that disables enemy satellites rather than obliterating them, the foreign space forces that follow won't be so polite about the means they use to destroy spacecraft, he added.
The push to develop military systems in space in the current administration was boosted in 2001, when a government-assigned commission reported its findings on the United States' national security capabilities in space. Commissioners, then, reported a great need to protect American space systems, particularly since the government's growing dependence on satellites could make it an attractive target for enemies.
"Many foreign nations and non-state entities are pursuing space-related activities," reported the study, which was headed then by Donald H. Rumsfeld, who is now the Secretary of Defense. "If the U.S. is to avoid a 'Space Pearl Harbor' it needs to take seriously the possibility of an attack on U.S. space systems."
If space warfare becomes a reality, it should only be implemented as a last resort, according to the Stimson study.
"We are in a position to deter the first use of space warfare because of our predominant military power," Krepon said, adding that the U.S. is now in a position to cause grievous damage to any other state that engages in space warfare. "The prospect of deterrence can be quite meaningful in space."
There is a nugget of truth to this, but it shouldn't cause us to overlook the obvious.
Much of our current military supremacy depends on our use of space. Thus, any country (i.e., China, Russia, or the EU) that wants to take us on militarily is going to go after our space assets. That's the only way they stand a chance on the battlefield.
Space will be weaponized. That's just the facts of life.
I consider it national security. I have no desire to be a guinea pig for the next, communism will work if you do it right, experiment.
Just take out the word "space" and you can see this think tank's true agenda/belief system. They're nuts.
A.F., thanks for pointing out how hollow this paper is. I found more at their site on Space Assets and the War in Iraq:
Instead of seeking dominance in space, the United States national security interests are best served by a "space assurance" posture. Space assurance requires better monitoring capabilities, so that troubling developments or anomalous events can be discovered quickly. A space assurance posture also requires new initiatives to lessen U.S. vulnerabilities in space or at ground stations servicing space assets. The United States must be prepared to respond quickly to troubling developments. Continued laboratory research and development into space warfare capabilities could help reinforce caution in other states, given the ability of the United States to compete effectively in this realm.What a notion. "Surrender is peace," how Orwellian.
A good defense in space does not require going on the offense. Space assurance, unlike space dominance, promises the continued benefits to the United States of the twin revolutions in military affairs and space-aided commerce.
At the bottom of each of these notions is the idea that no one country should ever become so powerful that it "threatens" another, no matter how morally superior that country may be. So despite America's century-long history of liberating third world countries and defending the western world from the hordes, we hear this kind of thing again and again.
How fitting it is that a Frenchman would remember to stand up for us in support of our strategic strength. Also, from what I understand, France is not as far behind us technologically, if at all.
Peace through stength.