The Western Lines

March 29, 2008

The Dark Side

Filed under: Ralph Buttigieg — ralphbuttigieg @ 10:19 am

Back in the 80’s and early 90’s the United States was developing the Brilliant Pebbles weapons system, it would have consisted of orbiting satellites armed with interceptors that could take out ballistic missiles. The project came to an end with a change of administration but President George W Bush resurrected the idea as the Space Based Interceptor. There was considerable controversy at the time and the program seemed to have gone away. The other day Alex sent me this link, it appears SBI did not die but is very much alive as a black program. Also I have been reading Dale Brown’s military techno thrillers and the most recent have been set in space. To top it of the US Navy shot down a wayward satellite a few weeks ago.

All this has got me thinking. No matter how much we want to see the peaceful use of space there will always be military utilization. After all the first man made object to enter Space was the V2 rocket. In the early days of the space age there was much concern that Space would be heavily militarized. Both the US Air Force and Army had plans for military moon bases. This would have been hideously expensive at the time so politicians were happy to sign the Outer Space treaty in 1967 which forbade military lunar outposts and weapons of mass destructions in space.

However the holy grail of Space Development is cheap access to space. Thats the only way we will ever see Solar Power Satellites, mass space tourism etc. That means the cost of building military space bases also come down, removing one of the reasons for the Outer Space Treaty.

Also, just what is weapon of mass destruction? Consider: much has been said about the threat of asteroid impact and scientist have spent considerable time developing ways to deflect asteroids away from Earth. But the same technology can be used to deflect asteroids onto the Earth. The nuke push may be a bit to rough but schemes like the gravity tractor might have the required finesse for a weapon system. A nation could send a gravity tractor out to clear the spaceways from rogue NEOs but decides to park a few at the Lagrange point. For scientific and commercial purpose of course. Then remind any annoying country of their asteroid moving capability and the dangers of impact.

Then theres the moon. Mass drivers are an excellent way to cheaply get payloads off the Moon. But they would make a good weapon system too. Build it on farside away from prying eyes under the pretext of a commercial system. I sure wouldn’t want any moon rocks coming at me at escape velocity.

I bet such fears are behind the interest of the major powers in moon bases, not so much to build military bases but to make sure no one else does.


1 Comment »

  1. Hello Ralph, I’m just writing to tell you how much I really enjoyed reading your article. I look forward to seeing more of your stuff in the very near future. My hope is that humanity will eventually make a home for itself out in the new frontier of outer space and leaves behind its propensities for violence, nationalism and territorialism. Call me a dreamer but, I really think we must somehow create a new planetary perspective concerning humanity and its place in the Cosmos. We must expand our narrow minded views of national security and think in terms of global security. The problems which vex humanity know no territorial frontiers or boarders. To quote Kennedy once again:We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theatre of war. I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again.….. because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept,We must, all of us who are committed to seeing humanity eventually settle this vast new frontier ensure that it never:“governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding”.There are enough resources in the solar system to support a population measure in the trillions and I firmly believe that the floodgates of this abundance can be better developed if all nations work together towards that goal. What this world needs are innovative people who are brave and bold enough to develop new ways of thinking and willing to create a bold new vision of how we choose to conduct ourselves here on planet Earth and out on the high frontier of space. And, we need statesmen ready and willing to open their eyes to such a vision. To quote President John F. Kennedy “we must never negotiate out of fear but, let us never fear to negotiate”. So in closing let me just state that we must not be afraid to open our eyes to the possibility of just such a vision. Alex

    Comment by Alex Michael Bonnici — March 30, 2008 @ 7:01 am | Reply

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