The Guardian 18 May, 2005

Arming the heavens —
protests at Australia’s role


About 15 protestors representing the Canberra Program for Peace, OzPeace, the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition and the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (GN) occupied the Visitors’ Centre at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC), Tidbinbilla on April 29 to draw attention to the accelerating militarisation and nuclearisation of space in which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plays a key role.

NASA has always portrayed itself as civilian and only engaged in the peaceful exploration of the Cosmos but GN member Gareth Smith remembers NASA’s representative in Australia, Dick Colonna, telling him in 1989 that Tidbinbilla had monitored a military satellite over Hawaii which was testing green/blue lasers in the detection of nuclear submarines.

Tidbinbilla’s manager Glen Nagle (employed by Raytheon, a top arms manufacturer) confirmed it had also covered space shuttle flights but maintained that there was no military connection, even though it is a matter of record that secret military payloads were carried. Protestors were jubilant over Mr Nagle’s offer to submit an “appropriate” exhibit outlining their concerns for display in the Visitors’ Centre.

President Bush stated that US military and commercial dominance of space is an absolute national priority (January 14, 2004, Moon, Mars and Beyond ). America’s civilian and military space programs are converging, with the extra funding which Bush proposed for manned flight to Mars likely to accelerate this. Former NASA director, Sean O’Keefe, said that NASA was looking forward to providing agency resources for the “war on terror” and that from now on all space missions had to be considered “dual purpose” i.e., military and civilian.

Australia is heavily involved in the militarisation of space even though this clashes with our ratification of the Treaty on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the 1979 Moon Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The majority of Australians feel Australia subordinates its foreign policy and strategic objectives to those of the US; they would prefer the focus was on the defence of Australia.

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