Re: Movement to Stop Militarization of Space

From: Adrian Tymes (
Date: Fri Oct 06 2000 - 00:33:22 MDT

"James J. Hughes" wrote:
> 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.

Yeah, well, guess what? That *is* basically the case today. Granted,
there's no weapons up there (yet), but there aren't many nations other
than the U.S. whose military has significant assets in space already.
(*Who* owns the GPS satellites?) If it came down to a major war, U.S.
military access to space could not practically be denied, but the U.S.
just might be able to deny said access to its opponent (especially if
the opponent was U.S. non-military interests). But the U.S. has no
reason to shoot down everyone elses' birds (yet), so they stay up...

In addition, it is fully possible not to desire to accomplish goal X,
and yet for goal X to be the logical consequence of one's actions. Such
would appear to be the situation here.

> 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 business.

Uh-huh. And they also profit much more from keeping space access the
way it is, rather than opening up space to everyone (though they will
pay lip service, if it gets them more goverment contracts). Tax breaks
et al. would serve to encourage those who *are* honestly trying, even
if LM and Boeing might also profit.

> 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.

I do. Or, at least, in being able to build stuff up there. (For
instance, telescopes beyond the atmosphere but still in a gravity well,
so they operate kinda like the ground telescopes we have here; that'd
fetch justifiably high access fees for the operator.) Once you've got
stuff up there, it's cheaper to maintain with an on-site maintenance
crew, *if* the cost of said crew can be accounted for (say, by
amortizing across a lot of constructions). And I'm far from the only
one who sees this.

> 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 place.

Umm, no, they'd prefer the simple deregulation. A lot of the research
has been done and is available, if only they could use it - it is the
engineering, not the science, that is the main challenge now. And
engineers work much better if they don't have to constantly ask, "may

As for security, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that, given a
choice between allowing American companies to flourish while letting
foreign companies drool at what America acheives, versus forbidding
American companies from a field while leaving foreign companies to their
own devices, the latter almost always results in non-American interests
getting much closer to American tech levels (and thus presenting a
bigger security risk) than the former. (One major exception is nuclear
weapons: once you have the ability to make nukes, you have the ability
to make nukes; any defense or superior attack concentrates on the
delivery mechanism, not on the weapon itself. Which means this danger
could actually be reduced if America had superior space tech, even if
other countries do gain ICBMs as a result.)

> 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.

Ehhm...right. Federal dollars, *and* the freedom to say "this won't be
used for military stuff"? Pull the other one, it's got bells on.

How about a plan which generates its own profit, until it becomes
profitable - or at least affordable - for industrial investors, or just
plain rich dreamers ("angel investors"), to send missions to Mars?

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