The Guardian January 26, 2000

Space domination: pyramids to the heavens

by Bruce Gagnon*

It was the Persian Gulf war that convinced the US military that "space 
dominance and space control" are necessary. And it was the war in Kosovo 
that they used to show the world that they have achieved their goal.

In a news release last June, the US Space Command proclaimed, "Any 
questions about the role or effectiveness of the use of space for military 
operations have been answered by NATO's operation Allied Force."

The news release concluded with the determination that, "The Space 
Command's Global Positioning System constellation of 24 satellites is 
credited with providing navigation and timing support to coordinate the 
actions of allied air crews and naval forces operating in the region."

The Pentagon is so sure that whoever controls space will control the Earth 
and beyond that they are feverishly working to deploy anti-satellite 
weapons (ASAT's) that will enable the US to knock out competitors "eyes in 
the sky" during times of hostilities.

As the Space Command says in their slick brochure, Vision for 2020, 
"Control of space is the ability to assure access to space, freedom of 
operations within the space medium, and an ability to deny others the use 
of space if required."

The early deployment strategy of the military is to put into orbit the 
Kinetic energy ASAT (KAASAT), that would essentially smash into a rival's 
satellite. Space Command hopes to be able to deploy the KASAT within the 
next five years.

While attending the 36th Space Congress last year at Cape Canaveral in 
Florida, I asked a panel of military officers the status of the ASAT 
program. Panelist Colonel Tom Clark responded that the issue was 
"politically sensitive".

He said that, ultimately, the US would "need an event to drive the public 
to support ASAT deployment. But it will happen. We are now talking, 
planning, doing research and development. Someone will attack one of our 

In the meantime Colonel Clark assured the audience of 250-300 NASA workers, 
aerospace industry representatives and military officers that we have the 
"defensive" Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system that was recently 
approved by Congress.

It is "obvious that dual use is clear", Clark said, referring to the fact 
that lasers in space could be fired either defensively or offensively.

One of the problems for the military, though, is the need for massive power 
projection for their space-based weapons. In a study commissioned by 
Congress, Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years, author John 
Collins notes that "nuclear reactors thus remain the only known long-lived, 
compact source able to supply military space forces with electric power."

Collins concludes that nuclear reactors "could meet multi-megawatt needs of 
space-based lasers, neutral particle beams, mass drivers, and railguns".

In fact, because of the growing demand for space nuclear power, the US 
Department of Energy (DoE) is now studying the reopening of previously 
closed production facilities at their deadly string of labs across the 
United States.

Between NASA's demand for future nuclear powered space probes and the Space 
Command's desire for nuclear powered space weapons, we could see a return 
of massive contamination problems at the labs.

Over 244 cases of worker contamination were reported at Los Alamos labs in 
New Mexico between 1993-95 as DoE prepared the plutonium generators for 
NASA's Cassini space mission. Work is also on-going at Los Alamos on the 
nuclear rocket to Mars, with nuclear reactors for engines.

The Space Command's Vision for 2020 not only speaks of controlling 
the Earth and the sky above our planet. They also envision controlling the 
space beyond as NASA and aerospace corporations move out to mine the moon, 
Mars and other planetary bodies for minerals in coming years.

Like Queen Isabella of Spain who paid for Columbus' exploration in hopes of 
greater economic rewards, these forces are lining up to harvest the 
enormous benefits expected from the exploitation of the outer reaches.

Vision for 2020 states that "Due to the importance of commerce and 
its effects on national security, the US may evolve into the guardian of 
space commerce  similar to the historical example of navies protecting 
sea commerce."

Just to make sure, the aerospace industry is taking no chances. A coalition 
of aerospace corporations are now engaged in a campaign called the 
"Declaration of Space Leadership" and have had their congressional allies 
introduce it as a House resolution.

Among other things, the "declaration" suggests funding space "defensive" 
systems and NASA at levels that guarantee "American leadership in the 
exploration of space".

Much of the tactic of the aerospace corporations is to brainwash the youth 
into a knee-jerk support of everything "space". NASA now has a program to 
reach every science teacher in the US with their space puffery.

Think of it this way: in 2020 these kids will be taxpayers and the industry 
hopes that they will be programmed to believe that we should spend the 
national treasury to go to Mars and that war in space is inevitable.

Not everyone is cheering though. Russia and China are deeply concerned, not 
only about the US circumventing the Anti-Ballistic Missile and Outer Space 
Treaties, but also about US plans to be Master of Space as the Space 
Command uniform patch reads.

Russia and China have both called for the UN Conference on Disarmament to 
form an ad hoc committee on the "prevention of an arms race in outer space" 
but the US is now blocking such a process.

During the past year the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power 
in Space has expanded its work to organise opposition to the US space 

As the reality of the recent US congressional vote on BMD has become clear 
citizens all over the world are angry. They see the bad seed of space 
exploitation and warfare as something we must move to stop now before it is 
too late.

As we internationally face domestic program cuts from the New World Order 
it becomes clear where much of that money will be going. The International 
Space Station is now at $100 billion. Over $100 billion has been spent on 
Star Wars to date.

Regular launch failures at Cape Canaveral waste billions of US tax dollars 
while the US people are told that there is no money for health care, child 
care, and other important programs.

We are now building pyramids to the heavens and the aerospace industry know 
that they must convince the public that their "plans for space" are vital, 
exciting, and patriotic.

The time has come for a rigorous international debate and campaign around 
the entire US space program.

* * *
Bruce Gagnon is co-ordinator of the Internet webpage

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