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To ‘Militarize’ or ‘Weaponize’ Space?

This is a discussion on To ‘Militarize’ or ‘Weaponize’ Space? within the Space & Defense Technology forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; To ‘Militarize’ or ‘Weaponize’ Space? U.S. Debate Begins By GOPAL RATNAM Should the United States be content with the “militarization” ...


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Old June 30th, 2005   #1
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Exclamation To ‘Militarize’ or ‘Weaponize’ Space?

To ‘Militarize’ or ‘Weaponize’ Space? U.S. Debate Begins
By GOPAL RATNAM

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Should the United States be content with the “militarization” of space or should it press on with “weaponizing” it? The difference is far from merely semantic to U.S. lawmakers who intend to use hearings in July to launch the question into public debate.

“These hearings will build upon a closed hearing already conducted to increase the members’ understanding of this complex issue,” Rep. Terry Everett, R-Ala., who heads the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said in an e-mail response to questions. “The hearings will discuss administration policy and the spectrum of options for space control. The hearings are intended to be the start of a national debate on protecting our assets in space.”

The White House is already drawing up its position, preparing the first update to the eight-year-old national space policy. At stake is the direction and budget of space efforts by the Pentagon and intelligence agencies.


In an May 19 interview, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper said, “We have to have access to space. That’s what we’ve said all along. So that’s what we think is going to be required. But the policy-level decisions that are going to define the limits of that are not in the United States Air Force by any means. Well beyond the United States Air Force.”

Jumper said his service was not currently developing space-launched vehicles that could carry smart weapons.

“Space militarization is okay,” one Democratic staff member said. “But with weaponization, my guys have a problem with that … there are all sorts of nuances there and [lawmakers] haven’t thought about it.”

For example, lawmakers are not sure what to make of the Common Aero Vehicle (CAV), also known as the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle, being developed by the U.S. Air Force, in conjunction with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. An unpowered, maneuverable, hypersonic vehicle that looks like a mini space shuttle, the CAV can be launched by a long-range ballistic missile or rocket to hit a target anywhere in the world within an hour.

“If the CAV goes up into space and comes back to hit something, I don’t think [Democrats] worry about it,” the staffer said. “But what if it goes into orbit for 24 or 72 hours and then comes down? … Is that a space weapon?”

What about moving today’s ground-based communications jammers into space?

“It is not an application of force if it’s temporary and reversible,” but is that a weapon, the aide asked.

Updating Space Policy

It’s not clear whether such questions will be answered by the White House’s forthcoming update to the 1996 national space policy.

The Clinton Administration policy did not ban the development of space weapons. One section, the Defense Space Sector Guidelines, says, “DoD shall maintain the capability to execute the mission areas of space support, force enhancement, space control and force application.” But space watchers say that in its implementation the Clinton administration opposed weaponization and canceled programs that tended to skirt the line.

A January 2001 blue-ribbon commission headed by Donald Rumsfeld, who soon became defense secretary, called the existing policy sound but said “the U.S. has not taken the steps necessary to develop the needed capabilities and to maintain and ensure continuing superiority.”

The country could well face a “space Pearl Harbor” — a surprise attack on its satellites -- said the National Commission to Assess U.S. National Security Space Management and Organization.

The New York Times reported May 18 that the new version will call for putting offensive and defensive weapons in orbit, but a White House spokesman denied that the following day.

“The policy that we’re talking about is not looking at weaponizing space,” said White House press secretary Scott McClellan. He said the update will reflect “a number of domestic and international developments that have changed the threats and challenges facing our space capabilities.”

Among the changes is the Global Positioning System, said Fred Jones, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

“Eight years ago, it was in its infancy,” Jones said. “Systems did not have GPS. Now cell phones have them; communication satellites of all types are now in place.”

Another development is the U.S. cancellation of the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile treaty, which forbade space-based anti-missile systems.

Space Debate

The debate over space weapons is shaping up along the lines of the partisan debate over missile defense. Advocates and opponents who clashed over the 2002 pullout from the treaty with Russia are now marshalling arguments about weaponizing space.

Everett Dolman, a professor at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., believes that developing orbital weapons is necessary to prevent other nations, such as India and China, from doing so first.

Speaking at a May 17 conference on space, organized by the Nuclear Policy Research Institute in Warrenton, Va., Dolman said the key question is “not whether the United States should be the first to weaponize space, or whether space weaponization is inevitable, but rather can the United States be the second state to weaponize space?”

Opponents say that the Air Force could protect its satellites from the ground at a fraction of the cost. But they say the service is determined to orbit weapons, citing research efforts and proposed programs on Air Force budget wishlists.

One August 2004 doctrine document, “Counterspace Operations,” lists space situational awareness, and defensive as well as offensive counterspace operations, including “deception, disruption, denial, degradation, and destruction … of an adversary’s space systems.”

The new White House policy could open the door to new and needlessly costly space weapons, said Theresa Hitchens, vice president of the Center for Defense Information, a Washington think tank that opposes space weaponization.

Republican lawmaker Everett said, “Cost is a factor, but to date cost data for space control compared to that of other systems does indicate any merit to oppose space control because of cost.”

But for some Democratic lawmakers, the question is more philosophical.

“The Democrats don’t have a monopoly on wisdom,” the Democratic aide said, but they are uncomfortable with being the “first nation to put a destructive weapon in orbit.” •

Source: defensenews.com paid subscription area
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Old June 30th, 2005   #2
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Re: To ‘Militarize’ or ‘Weaponize’ Space?

To me it doesnt seem like a step to protect its space technology (in space) by US but rather a move to bring whole world under a single point of knife.

This move will make US the virtual ruler of the world or say an Earthly God.
So to be powerful we will have to be with the (Most) powerful (USA).

Militrializing & weaponizing the space means occupying the space which unlike land does not belong to any nation, race ,langauge or religion. There should be freedom of exploration.
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Old June 30th, 2005   #3
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Re: To ‘Militarize’ or ‘Weaponize’ Space?

At least we can have this debate, thanks to the way the US works, in dictatorships it is just done behind the scenes and noone else in the world knows about it. In the west, generally anything controversial is front page news (and the reporters don't have to go into hiding) and is well debated.

"A renegade Russian arms expert has splashed cold water over his own country’s concerns about potential U.S. space weapons.
Only a day after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov appeared to threaten a response to any U.S. effort to put weapons in space, Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, a senior scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Center for International Security, told journalists that such a reaction was unnecessary because “in the near future as there are no such projects in the world.”
Ivanov had declared that "Russia's position on this issue has not changed for decades: We are categorically against militarizing outer space."
But Dvorkin drew attention to past Soviet-era space weapons. “One might remember Soviet anti-satellite spacecraft that were capable to close in on unfriendly satellites and kill them,” he said. These were space-to-space combat systems, operating from orbit — unlike other anti-satellite weapons, such as a U.S. system that involved basing a missile on Earth and firing it into space. The Soviet system, considered a genuine space weapon, had the potential to operate anywhere in near-Earth space that its booster rockets could send it."
"Space policy analyst Dwayne Day agrees. Writing last month in The Space Review, he explained: “A small segment of the Air Force space leadership has always been in favor of unrealistic space weaponry, but is rarely able to convince anybody at higher levels that it is necessary. Unfortunately, a lot of people outside of this community fall for the rhetoric with regularity. The press reports these speeches and the occasional wild study as if they represent real Pentagon plans.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8089747/

Have there been weapons in space, yes, they were Russian, and were put in place in the 1980's. They were designed to take out opposing satellites by manuvuering to crash into them. But not a word of debate, complaint or outcry from the usually vocal peace groups, while Russian lambasted US efforts.
I think the deployment by the US depends on the success of the hypersonic strike aircraft, basically, the US wants the ability of hitting targets as soon as possible after they have been identified. I remember from the Iraqi war effort to take out Saddam Hussien, that from the time intel came through as to his wereabouts, to the time a weapon could be on site, many hours would past by, similary with Osuma Bin Laden. I would think that if the technoloagy is delayed then space based weapondry would be looked at more closely by legistrators. Nuclear, no, the US triad is capable of surviving a first strike, so it is likely to be small fast response perscision strike weapons. Somewhat scarey if your a dictator that decides to threaten the US though. You may be looking at a receipt of intel to strike time of less than 15 minutes.
The question is not if it will happen so much as what safeguards are put in place to stop it being used to take out anyone who disagrees with the current leadership. At least in the US, and the west in general, if it is abused, the leadership will be voted out, impeached or face legal sanctions due to the presence and encouragement of strong opposition parties, and a free and vocal media.
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Old June 30th, 2005   #4
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Re: To ‘Militarize’ or ‘Weaponize’ Space?

Just been doing a bit of quick research, to show that the militaration and weaponisation of space is not solely a US affair, as is often portrayed by those with anti- american agendas.

"Pentagon Report: China's Space Warfare Tactics Aimed at U.S. Supremacy
By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 08:30 am ET
01 August 2003

This year's report cites a comment from Captain Shen Zhongchang from the Chinese Navy Research Institute. He envisions, according to the DoD, a weaker military defeating a superior one by attacking its space-based communications and surveillance systems.
"The mastery of outer space will be a requisite for military victory, with outer space becoming the new commanding heights for combat," Shen is quoted as saying. He also is quoted in the report as observing that "lightning attacks and powerful first strikes will be more widely used in the future."

In future wars, Shen highlights radar, radio stations, communications facilities, and command ships as priority targets vulnerable to smart weapons, electronic attack, and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons"

http://www.space.com/news/china_dod_030801.html

Certainly, once weapons in space become common for one nation, others have to follow, if only for their own perchieved notion of national security. A space based version of M.A.D (mutually assured distruction)


"It is inconceivable that either Russia or China would allow the United States to become the sole nation with space-based weapons. 'Once a nation embarks down the road to gain a huge asymmetric advantage, the natural tendency of others is to close that gap. An arms race tends to develop an inertia of its own,' writes Air Force Lt. Col. Bruce M. DeBlois, in a 1998 article in Airpower Journal. Chinese moves to put weapons in space would trigger regional rival India to consider the same, in turn, spurring Pakistan to strive for parity with India. Even U.S. allies in Europe might feel pressure to "keep up with the Joneses." It is quite easy to imagine the course of a new arms race in space that would be nearly as destabilizing as the atomic weapons race proved to be. "

http://www.cdi.org/missile-defense/spaceweapons.cfm
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Old July 18th, 2005   #5
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Re: To ‘Militarize’ or ‘Weaponize’ Space?

it's a double edge sword. deterence or aggression.
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