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Nuclear power and nuclear weapons together, in a bonanza for a privatised space industry

Insane U.S. Plan to Spend Billions on Weaponizing Space Makes Defense Contractors Jump for Joy—But Rest of World Cowers in Horror at Prospect of New Arms Race Leading to World War III

CovertAction Magazine  By Karl Grossman – August 25, 2021   ”……………….New World Vistas

A 1996 U.S. Air Force report, New World Vistas: Air and Space Power for the 21st Century, speaks of how “new technologies will allow the fielding of space-based weapons of devastating effectiveness to be used to deliver energy and mass as force projection in tactical and strategic conflict. These advances will enable lasers with reasonable mass and cost to effect very many kills.”

However, “power limitations impose restrictions” on such space weaponry making them “relatively unfeasible,” but “a natural technology to enable high power is nuclear power in space.” Says the report: “Setting the emotional issues of nuclear power aside, this technology offers a viable alternative for large amounts of power in space.”

This linkage continues.

A 104-page report issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2021 entitled Space Nuclear Propulsion for Human Mars Exploration declared: “Space nuclear propulsion and power systems have the potential to provide the United States with military advantages.”

The report’s central focus is the advocacy of rocket propulsion by nuclear power for U.S. missions to Mars and lays out “synergies” in space nuclear activities between NASA and the U.S. military.

On December 19, 2021, just before he was to leave office, Trump signed Space Policy Directive-6, titled “National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion.”

Its provisions include: “DoD [Department of Defense] and NASA, in cooperation with DOE [Department of Energy], and with other agencies and private-sector partners, as appropriate, should evaluate technology options and associated key technical challenges for an NTP [Nuclear Thermal Propulsion] system, including reactor designs, power conversion, and thermal management. DoD and NASA should work with their partners to evaluate and use opportunities for commonality with other SNPP [Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion] needs, terrestrial power needs, and reactor demonstration projects planned by agencies and the private sector.”

It continues: “DoD, in coordination with DOE and other agencies, and with private sector partners, as appropriate, should develop reactor and propulsion system technologies that will resolve the key technical challenges in areas such as reactor design and production, propulsion system and spacecraft design, and SNPP system integration.”

The members of the committee that put together the report for the National Academies included executives of the aerospace and nuclear industry—a key element in U.S. space policy.

For example, as the report states, there were: Jonathan W. Cirtain, president of Advanced Technologies, “a subsidiary of BWX Technologies which is the sole manufacturer of nuclear reactors for the U.S. Navy”; Roger M. Myers, owner of R. Myers Consulting and who previously at Aerojet Rocketdyne “oversaw programs and strategic planning for next-generation in-space missions [that] included nuclear thermal propulsion and nuclear electric power systems; and Joseph A. Sholtis, Jr., “owner and principal of Sholtis Engineering & Safety Consulting, providing expert nuclear, aerospace, and systems engineering services to government, national laboratories, industry, and academia since 1993.”

And so on.

“Rigged Game in Washington”

The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space was formed in 1992 at a meeting in Washington, D.C., and has been the leading group internationally challenging the weaponization and nuclearization of space.

Its coordinator, Bruce Gagnon, in a 2021 interview with me, said: “The aerospace industry has long proclaimed that ‘Star Wars’ would be the largest industrial project in human history. Add the nuclear industry’s ambition to use space as its ‘new market,’ and one can imagine the money that would be involved. These two industry giants have put their resources together to ensure their ‘control and domination’ of the U.S. Congress. Both political parties are virtually locked down when it comes to appropriating funds to move the arms race into space and to colonize the heavens for corporate profits. Just one example is the recent approval in Congress of the creation of the ‘Space Force’ as a new service branch in the military.”

During the Trump administration (with the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives) the Space Force was ‘stood up’ as they like to say in the biz,” said Gagnon. “The Democrats could have stopped the creation of this new military branch. During the little congressional debate that did occur, the only thing the Democrats requested was to call it the ‘Space Corps’ (like the Marine Corps). It’s a rigged game in Washington when it comes to handing out money to the aerospace industry.”

Gagnon continued: “In his book, The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the 2lst Century, former Navy War College Professor Thomas Barnett writes that, under globalization of the world economy, every country will have a different role. We won’t produce shoes, cars, phones, washing machines and the like in the U.S. anymore because it is cheaper for industry to exploit labor in the global south.

Our role in the U.S., Barnett says, will be ‘security export.’ That means we will endlessly fight wars in the parts of the world where nations are not yet ‘fully integrated’ into corporate capitalism. Having a dominant military in space would enable the US to see, hear and target everything on the Earth.”

“In order to put together a global ‘Leviathan’ military capability,” Gagnon continued, “space must be militarized and weaponized. The cost of doing so is enormous and requires cuts in social and environmental spending and larger contributions from NATO member nations.”

“In addition to using space technology to control Earth on behalf of corporate capital, the new Space Force will have another key job. They will be tasked with attempting to control the pathway on and off the planet Earth. In the 1989 Congressional Study entitled Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years, congressional staffer John Collins writes on pages 24 and 25: “Nature reserves decisive advantage for L4 and L5, two allegedly stable [space] libration points that theoretically could dominate Earth and moon, because they look down both gravity wells. No other location is equally commanding…. Armed forces might lie in wait at that location to hijack rival shipments on return.”

Privatized Gold Rush

“The Pentagon is looking to a future where space would be fully privatized and a new gold rush would ensue. Corporations and rich fat-cats like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, while ignoring the UN’s Outer Space and Moon Treaties that call the heavens the ‘province of all mankind,’ would move to control the shipping lanes from Earth into space. The Space Force would be used by these ‘space entrepreneurs’ as their own private pirate forces to ensure they controlled the extraction of resources mined from planetary bodies. This provocative vision would in the end recreate the global war system, which has been deeply embedded into the culture and consciousness here on Earth. Russia, China and other space-faring nations are not going to allow the US to be the ‘Master of Space.’”

Planting Earth’s Toxic Residue in the Heavens and the Fight to Stop It

Says Gagnon: “I call this the bad seed of greed, war and environmental devastation that we are poised to plant into the heavens.”

“It is my hope that the global public would quickly awaken to a deep understanding and not allow corporate oligarchs or the military to encircle our planet with so much space junk that we would be forever entombed on Earth, or continue to punch a hole in the Earth’s delicate ozone layer from toxic rocket exhaust after each of their tens of thousands of coming launches, or ruin the sacred night sky with blinking satellites for 5G that will in the end be used by the Space Force for expanded ‘space situational awareness’ and targeting capabilities.”

“We have reached the point in human history where we need the immediate intervention by the citizen taxpayers of the planet to ensure that our tiny orbiting satellite called Earth remains livable for the future generations,” Gagnon declared. “We can’t fall for the public relations story-line of the cowboy sailing off into space to discover the new world. We know how that movie turns out in the end—just ask the Native American people.”

U.S. Army Colonel John Fairlamb (Ret.), in 2021 wrote in The Hill, the Washington, D.C., news website: “Let’s be clear: Deploying weapons in space crosses a threshold that cannot be walked back.” Fairlamb’s background includes being International Affairs Specialist for the Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Military Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs.

“Given the implications for strategic stability, and the likelihood that such a decision [to deploy weapons in space] by any nation would set off an expensive space arms race in which any advantage gained would likely be temporary, engaging now to prevent such a debacle seems warranted,” wrote Fairlamb.

His piece was headed: “The U.S. should negotiate a ban on basing weapons in space.”

“It’s time,” Fairlamb wrote, “for arms control planning to address the issues raised by this drift toward militarization of space. Space is a place where billions of defense dollars can evaporate quickly and result in more threats about which to be concerned. Russia and China have been proposing mechanisms for space arms control at the United Nations for years; it’s time for the U.S. to cooperate in this effort.”

As Alice Slater, a member of the boards of both the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and the organization World BEYOND War, says: “The U.S. mission to dominate and control the military use of space has been, historically and at present, a major obstacle to achieving nuclear disarmament and a peaceful path to preserve all life on Earth. Reagan rejected Gorbachev’s offer to give up ‘Star Wars’ as a condition for both countries to eliminate all their nuclear weapons … Bush and Obama blocked any discussion in 2008 and 2014 on Russian and Chinese proposals for a space-weapons ban in the consensus-bound Committee on Disarmament in Geneva.”

At this unique time in history when it is imperative that nations of the world join in cooperation to share resources to end the global plague assaulting its inhabitants and to avoid catastrophic climate destruction or Earth-shattering nuclear devastation,” said Slater, “we are instead squandering our treasure and intellectual capacity on weapons and space warfare.”

And yet far worse is to come—unless there is a return to the vision of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. The latter needs to be expanded, U.S. Space Force dismantled, and a full global commitment made to keep space for peace.

As we go to press, Breaking Defense published an article: “Pentagon Poised To Unveil, Demonstrate Classified Space Weapon.” This was its headline. Above the headline it stated: “Show Coverage: Space Symposium 2021”

The piece begins: “For months, top officials at the Defense Department have been working toward declassifying the existence of a secret space weapon program and providing a real-world demonstration of its capabilities.” It continues: “The system in question long has been cloaked in the blackest of black secrecy veils—developed as a so-called Special Access Program known only to a very few, very senior government leaders.”

The August 20th article features below its headline a large illustration of—as its caption reads—“Directed energy anti-satellite weapons for the future (Lockheed Martin)”

Space Symposium 2021 was to be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado between August 23 and 26. A main speaker was to be General John W. “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force.

Breaking Defense describes itself as “the digital magazine on the strategy, politics and technology of defense,” adding: “It’s a new era in defense, where new technologies, new warfare domains and a rapidly shifting military and political landscape have profound implications for national security.”

Profound, indeed!


August 26, 2021 - Posted by | business and costs, space travel, weapons and war

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