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November 22, 2006

Comments

Rob Fabian

The problem with space weapons treaties is that they are completely unverifiable. Even the UN admits that when pressed (see UNDIR Research Paper #17, "Technical Problems in the Verification of a Ban on Space Weapons.") "Trust, but verify!"

There's no physical difference between a microsat that docks with a larger satellite to repair it (like several European nations are developing) and one that does the same to disable it. Likewise, is that antenna for communications relay, or for jamming? It depends on how it's used, not what it is. When the US first launched teh Space Shuttle with its arm (STS-7) the Soviet government filed a formal protest claiming that it was an ASAT weapon.

A space weapons ban would do more to keep humanity out of space than any budget cut in the past 20 years. The vast majority of the technologies we need to do more than just dink around in LEO have a dual use as weapons, from high power antennas (jammers), laser communications (ISR dazzlers), repair/refueling microsats (combat satellites), better drives (KE impact ASATs), etc.

The policy makes it pretty clear that the US supports the peaceful use of space under the Outer Space Treaty and the UN Charter, as well as the rights of all nations to that peaceful use. I.E. it emphasizes conduct in space instead of banning hardware.

I also think Under Secretary Joseph from the State Department got it right last week when he commented that the recent pushes to ban space weapons have a lot more to do with stopping US missile Defense than with protecting satellites or promoting peace -- in space or on Earth.

Gabriel Mckee

Rob,

First of all, thanks for posting. When I read your author bio, I was curious what you'd think about this post. You're pretty directly engaged in this stuff, so you certainly know more than I do about the technical details and practical aspects of what kind of technology is in development and what international guidelines are currently in place. I'm really not knowledgable enough about those details to comment specifically.

My real problem is that the wording of the section I quoted preemptively rejects rational international discussion about what is and is not acceptable in space. It says that US national interest, however that may be defined, trumps the concerns of the international community. (This is certainly not the only example of this in US government policy.) If the US government decides that its national interest requires orbiting nuclear weapons, for hyperbolic example, then the space policy excuses the US from having to adhere to any international restrictions that the rest of the world may agree upon. It's not necessarily a likely event, but the policy's wording would allow it, and the attitude behind that wording is palpable.

It may be idealistic to say so, but I feel that international interest-- how the human race will represent itself off-world-- must always come before the interests of any one nation.

Klaatu

Klaatu is here! he has a manuscript on the web called:

THE NILE of DENIAL by Klaatu

It contains a hidden blueprint for survival on earth. Good luck to you all-KLAATU

Klaatu

Klaatu is here..

On the web- A manuscript of great knowledge, with a message of survival, called:

"THE NILE of DENIAL by Klaatu"

Deep philosophy for strong minded humans.

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