Sunday, May 11, 2008

Is Space Weaponization Inevitable?

In the May fifth issue of Space News, Gopalaswamy and Ghoshroy ask "Is Space Weaponization Inevitable?" and provide a lot of evidence that space is becoming more weaponized but never really answer the question.

The answer is no. Space is and will be weaponized to the extent that we, the people of Earth, weaponize it. We can continue on our current path, lead by China and the Bush administration, towards space war, or the space powers can sit down, determine what is verifiable, ban it, and watch each other like hawks for violations.

Had we done this a few years ago, it is quite likely China would never have tested an ASAT, because ASAT tests are very easy to detect.

Further weaponization of space is not in America's interest. We depend on our satellites more than anyone else and they are extremely vulnerable for fundamental reasons. We successfully tested ASAT weapons decades ago and modified current systems for an ASAT role in six months. America would be much better off locking in something close to the status quo than a ASAT/space weapons arms race.

There is a deeper issue driving limits on weapons and warfare. Modern weapons, including today's nuclear bombs and tomorrow's biological and nanotechnological weapons, are an existential threat to humanity. Given enough time, soon or later someone is going to make a mistake and use them. We have a choice: retire war as a human institution or face extinction. I choose life.

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