Militarizing Space: The Dangers of Star Wars II
Defense: We Must Keep Space for Peace
Bruce K. Gagnon
07 February 2001
What is our vision for the heavens? On a
beautiful starry night do you look up to the moon and the
stars and feel the
connection to the ages? Can you imagine military bases
on the moon and constellations of space-based lasers orbiting
our planet? Can you envision the new military space plane,
the successor to the shuttle, dropping off new space-based
weapons systems and then returning to earth?
We are at a defining
moment in history as the U.S. leads the rest of the world
into this new space age that ripples
with technological advances and challenges the peace and
environmental movements to update the way we think and organize.
1989 I organized a demonstration at the Kennedy Space Center
in Florida. The keynote speaker that day was an Apollo
astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the
moon. Mitchell spoke out against Star Wars and told us that
we allow the Pentagon to put weapons into space, and to
even test them against old satellites, then we will create
much space junk that we will not be able to get a rocket
off this planet. Mitchell said we would be entombed to
Currently there are 110,000 pieces of "space junk" larger
than a half-inch orbiting the earth at 18,000 m.p.h. They
are tracked on radar screens inside Cheyenne Mountain in
Colorado. Recently the International Space Station (ISS),
which will cost taxpayers well over $100 billion once completed,
had to be moved to a higher orbit because space junk was
moving dangerously near it. On its last mission prior to
its fatal launch demise, the shuttle Challenger had its windshield
cracked by a tiny speck of paint that hit it while orbiting
We once viewed the oceans, lakes, and rivers as vast and
limitless. It was official policy to pour raw sewage and
industrial pollution into these bodies because no one imagined
that any harm could come from doing so. Dilution was the
solution to pollution.
Today, some view space in the same
way. The heavens are vast and limitless and it is assumed
it won't matter what we put
there in the name of national security. NASA, the US Department
of Energy (DoE), and the Pentagon do not worry about the
consequences of plans to dramatically increase deployments
of nuclear materials into space to power space probes and
The ballistic missile defense system is sold
to the American people as a way to protect us from attack
by "rogue" states,
or as they are now called, "states of concern." National
missile defense (NMD) is the $60 billion program to protect
the continental U.S. from "attack." North Korea,
one so-called possible enemy, has suspended its missile-testing
program and is now negotiating reunification with South Korea.
China, another "state of concern," has only 20
nuclear missiles capable of hitting the U.S. while we have
3,500 with which to "hit back." Chinese officials
have been asking over and over again for the U.S. to join
them in signing a global ban on weapons in space. The U.S.
refuses to discuss such a ban saying that there is "no
There is also a program called theatre missile defense (TMD)
that would forward deploy these systems into the Middle East
and Asia to "protect" U.S. interests and outposts.
TMD would place weapons on ground launchers, ships, and airborne
lasers enabling the U.S. to hit "offending" ballistic
missiles in their boost phase, right after launch.
Space Command, with its logo "Master of Space," is
also working hard to develop the space-based laser (SBL)
program, the "follow-on" technology to missile
defense. Its expressed intention is to use this program to
protect corporate "interests and investments" around
the globe as the gap widens between the "haves" and
the "have-nots." The Space Command will become
the military instrument by which corporations maintain their
The $30 billion SBL program will soon begin
construction of a test facility at either Cape Canaveral
in Florida, Redstone
Army Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, or at the Stennis Missile
Testing Center in Mississippi. The SBL, the real Reagan-era
Star Wars program, would deploy a constellation of 20-30
lasers orbiting the earth with the job of knocking out "competitors" satellites
and hitting targets on earth. These lasers could very possibly
be powered by nuclear reactors. Imagine what would happen
if they tumbled back to earth!
We are now standing on the
edge of history, poised to move the bad seed of war, greed,
and environmental degradation
into the heavens. We have sown this bad seed ever so widely
on our fragile planet leaving behind such human suffering
and environmental waste that it makes me angry to think
about now moving the war system into space.
I am often asked if
I am opposed to the space program all together. Actually
I am not. But I believe we should approach
space exploration with a sense of awe and mystery. We should
approach this final frontier with a reverence for what
the heavens will reveal to us, rather than with the arrogance
I often tell a story about my son, who
when he was young wanted to stay out on the street after
dark playing with
his friends. I told him that he was too young, too immature,
and that when he showed more maturity we would renegotiate
the deal. This is the way I see the space program. NASA
and the Pentagon are showing that they do not have the
or the maturity to be given the responsibility to move
off this planet.
I see earth's citizens as the parents. It is
the parents' job to protect the children, or in this case,
from those who do not demonstrate a proper respect for
life on this earth and the heavens beyond. Like all good
who would stop their children from hurting themselves,
it is our job to stop the aerospace industry which views
as a new market for war and enormous profit.
The time has
come for a new consciousness about space. Space is not
a junkyard or bombing range or playground for the
high-tech boys with their new expensive toys. It is a place
of wonder and life. It is the place where our spirit soars
and our dreams live and grow.
The United Nations recognized
this when they created the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that says
no weapons of "mass
destruction" can be put into the heavens. The treaty
says that the heavenly bodies are the province of all human
kind. We must call for the strengthening of this treaty,
not its nullification!
The Global Network Against Weapons
and Nuclear Power in Space has been working since 1992
to create a new consciousness
about space. When we look up at that beautiful moon on
a clear night, we must remember that everyone on the entire
planet has the same experience - it is a unifying symbol
for all the people. We cannot allow the Pentagon to think
that they can put military bases on the moon or weapons
orbit around the Earth.
I believe that space must be protected
just like any other wilderness. We must create a global
movement that says we
shall not move the bad seed of war into the heavens. We
must not pollute space any longer with nuclear reactors and
generators, and we must stop all planning for U.S. space
weapons and military bases on the moon.
For once, we have
a chance to stop something truly horrific before it actually
happens. We can prevent an arms race before
it begins if we act now. If we pause long enough to give
the Pentagon and the aerospace industries the opportunity,
they surely will move the arms race into the heavens and
rob our children and their children of the resources that
they need to create a sustainable life on our earth.
call out to the public to help us keep space for peace. We
must demand that the politicians rescind plans
for "missile defense" and the space-based laser.
We must say that space will be protected as a wilderness.
relations who sat around their council fires for centuries
before us marveled at the wonders of the night sky. We must
honor them by preventing the arms race from moving into the
heavens. We must keep space for peace.© The News Insider
2001Bruce K. Gagnon is the Coordinator for the Global Network
Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He can be contacted
at PO Box 90083, Gainesville, FL 32607, Tel: (352) 337-9274,
or by email at email@example.com.
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