Re: Movement to Stop Militarization of Space

From: James J. Hughes (
Date: Thu Oct 05 2000 - 21:51:41 MDT

> Dr. Hughes, I hope you don't lose respect for me after I say this, but in
> my opinion, this is yet another thinly veiled attack from the growing
> luddite lobby

Well, I asked Bruce Gagnon about this (you can listen at, and he stoutly denied
that the Mobilization is anti-space. In fact, some of the organizational
members are space and astronomical organizations in the Third World who are
simply afraid that space is going to be the sole preserve of the U.S. Space
Command, and used to consolidate Pax Americana.

I also recommend the interview I did with John Pike (interview on the 1998
page), the chief researcher and activist on space issues at the Federation
of American Scientists, not noted as a Luddite front organization. Pike and
the FAS have been fighting SDI/BMD and other initiatives to weaponize space
precisely because it pours federal money down a rat hole, and could be
better spent on real space work.

Its not a serious approach to jump on the other side of every supposedly
binary question when you find Greenpeace on your side. I already know you
don't think that way because of our discussions of a serious transhuman
genetics policy that acknowledges serious potential genetics problems, and
proposes serious regulatory solutions, without falling into the trap of
techno-utopianism. The campaign to defend the space program, and direct it
from military to peaceful, scientific and commercial purposes is similar.

And there is a very small, but real, risk that a nuclear payload on a space
launch could blow up and spread radioactive isotopes through the atmosphere
at a high altitude. The risks may be reducible to make the cost-benefit
analysis worth the risk. But it is not crazy for people to worry that NASA
and the military may be underestimating their own capacity to fuck-up
(remember the Challenger and two failed Mars missions, to name a few).

> The military has
> long been and still is a major driving force for developing technologies
> for affordable exploration and development of space

Yes, and wars have been a major stimulus to technological innovation. But I
don't think people should have to enlist to get to space, and I don't think
military space missions are the best way to advance space exploration. I
would prefer to pursue non-military avenues to technological innovation and
space. I think its been proven pretty decisively that given the same amount
of invested capital, investments in commercial and scientific research and
development produces more than investment in military R & D.

> "So while we're protesting against military use of space, lets also
> demand larger tax breaks and fewer restrictions on private companies
> seeking to develop space for peaceful commercial uses.

Why do you think a person's views of the appropriate economic motivations
for space industry has anything to do with "Luddism"? There is a difference
between correlation and causation.

I promise you this - there are very few libertarians on the Boards of
Lockheed Martin or Boeing. Yes, they'll take tax breaks and fewer regs, but
they sure as hell want to keep the government involved in the space

Deregulation won't get us to space any quicker. All aerospace concerns are
driven by profit, and they don't see much to be made in colonizing the moon
or Mars.

If you want to support nascent space industries, why not prime the pump by
giving them lucrative contracts to pursue scientific research? I'm sure they
would prefer that to simply deregulating who gets to fire off rockets, which
is not such an attractive idea for national security reasons in the first

If you are interested in a serious, and decidedly pro-profit, space plan,
look at ThinkMars []. I interviewed
the aspiring CEO of this venture which is trying to collect the capital to
get to Mars []. And
he made one thing very clear: any venture to get to Mars cannot rely on the
for-profit motivations of industrial investors alone. They are looking for
at least half of the investments to be underwritten by federal dollars. And
they are not planning on planting any anti-Iraqi missile batteries or
running reconnaissance on the Chinese.

J. Hughes "On Saturday, my teachers, me, and all
Changesurfer Radio my friends went to Never Never Land. It was a short trip." Tristan Bock-Hughes, 3

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