Google
 

Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2018 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

The USA's Space Force

13 August 2018

Ronald Regan started it all with his "Star Wars" initiative.

Now, decades later, Donald Trump has revived the concept of a officially militarising space for the purposes of national defense (and the other thing).

While there might be those (including myself) who believe the neutrality of space should be sacrosanct, the reality is that it has been used for military purposes since WW2 so that's a battle we've already lost.

The German V2 ballistic missiles soared far above the earth's atmosphere, arcing to some 88Km above the planet when launched for maximum range, and over 200Km when launched for maximum altitude.

Since then we've made huge use of space for defensive and offensive purposes.

Intelligence gathering by way of military satellites is probably the number-one use of space for non-commercial, non-civilian purposes.

After a US U2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet Russia back in 1960 it soon became apparent that space was the only safe way to surveil and spy on your enemies (and your friends) from above. This saw a huge amount of resource being dedicated to the creation of spy satellites for the military and even today a "not insignificant" amount of the USA's defense budget is poured into "top secret" technologies such as the X-37

However, there is a huge difference between the passive use of space-borne military technology and creating military outposts in orbit or beyond.

ICBMs simply transit through space on their journey to whatever target is unfortunate enough to be their goal and spy satellites only have the power of looking at the earth below -- but there are far nastier ways to leverage a position hundreds of Km above the planet.

Although Regan's Star Wars initiative was largely defensive, it's almost certain that the intent was to extend it to deliver an offensive capability as well.

While they're on the ground, ICBMs are vulnerable to attack which would mean, in the event of a nuclear conflict, both sides would almost certainly unleash their entire arsenals as quickly as possible, so as to avoid losing them before they could be deployed.

If the missiles and their warheads were moved into orbit rather than sunk in deep silos, several benefits would be gained.

Firstly, the flight-time to target could be significantly reduced -- since they'd be half way there even before the launch button was pressed.

Secondly, any launch would be harder to detect -- since only minimal amounts of energy would be required to de-orbit the warheads towards their targets when compared to the firing of a rocket powerful enough to hurl multiple nuclear warheads half way around the world. A covert launch makes a first-strike far more effective and attractive from a military perspective.

Another "active" militarisation of space would be the stationing of anti-satellite weapons in orbit. These are weapons designed to "take out" enemy surveillance birds, effectively blinding them and rendering their forces far less capable.

China has allegedly already tested such devices, and in doing so has contributed significantly to the "space junk" problem by "blowing up" stuff in orbit.

It's hard to tell whether Trump's "Space Force" will simply be the legitimisation of things that have already been done. I would be very surprised if the USA doesn't already have a snot-load of active military technology floating around above our heads -- it's just doing so without telling anyone. Nobody knows for sure what the X-37 has carried into space during its missions for the US Air Force but you can be pretty sure that its cargo bay has been stuffed full of potentially nasty tech on at least a few occasions.

The sad thing about the USA's Space Force initiative is that it will force Russia and China to follow suit (if they haven't already).

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is only effective when all parties have parity from the point of view of their destructive capabilities. As soon as one side gets an upper hand, the risk of conflict increases enormously.

The side with more capability is tempted to exercise its advantage while it can and the side without that advantage is tempted to use the only strength it might have, which would be the element of first-strike surprise.

And the worst thing of all is the knowledge that all these billions of dollars that have been and will be poured into the militarisation of space, won't do diddly-squat if we're faced with a rogue asteroid which threatens to create an extinction-level event down here.

Good to see the superpowers getting their priorities right -- NOT.

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Have your say in the Aardvark Forums.

PERMALINK to this column


Rank This Aardvark Page

 

Change Font

Sci-Tech headlines

 


Features:

Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam

 

Recent Columns

You know the media is lost when...
Once upon a time we all looked to the daily newspaper for our knowledge of current affairs and events...

Penny-wise, pound-foolish
After a glorious weekend I think (hope) it's safe to say that summer has finally arrived in Godzone...

Thanks Warehouse (not!)
In a recent column I lamented the fact that educational and scientific toys seem to be hard to find these days...

The Aussie Government is mental
According to the media, the Australian government look set to pass its law baning unbreakable end-to-end encryption before Christmas...

Magnetic memory, hacks and idiocy
There was nothing that reached out and grabbed me as the subject for today's column so I'm going to just brush over a few items of interest instead...

Buy a book and save the planet?
EBooks are the future and eBooks are environmentally friendly... right?...

The joke that is weather forecasting
I'm getting sick and tired of these cold mornings and rainy days during a time when we ought to be starting to see protracted periods of warmer, drier weather...

Something stinks in Godzone
New Zealand has a housing crisis...

Is the Huawei ban just hypocrisy?
The NZ government has stepped in and told Spark that it can't use Huawei gear to build its 5G cellular network...

New Wifi protocols on the way
Wifi is cool tech...

Another Mars landing
As I type this, there's a window on my screen showing the live scene at the mission control centre for the Insight Mars mission...