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Do We Really Need Space Weapons?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 9 years ago | from the but-what-about-star-wars dept.

Space 938

tcd004 writes "The U.S. military is developing technology to disable, jam, and even destroy enemy satellites. But are space weapons necessary? No, says Michael Krepon, director of the Stimson Center's Space Security Project. He argues that developing space weapons is a surefire way to launch a new space weapon race.

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first post? (-1, Offtopic)

Transmogrify_UK (902981) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269203)

amazing!

Re:first post? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269254)

lol what?

When space access becomes cheap and ubiquitous... (5, Interesting)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269208)

There will be no need to worry about weapons based in space...someone will just send a ship up and steal the whole satellite.

Re:When space access becomes cheap and ubiquitous. (5, Funny)

Monkey Angst (577685) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269238)

There will be no need to worry about weapons based in space...someone will just send a ship up and steal the whole satellite.

This is why we need the snooping powers provided by the USA-PATRIOT act. All we need do to foil the plots of satellite-stealing villains is track the purchases of large numbers of silver jumpsuits and miniskirts. An ounce of prevention...

Re:When space access becomes cheap and ubiquitous. (2, Insightful)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269271)

"But are space weapons necessary? No, says Michael Krepon, director of the Stimson Center's Space Security Project. He argues that developing space weapons is a surefire way to launch a new space weapon race."

Irrelevant. Whether or not developing space weapons is a surefire way to launch a new space weapons race does not answer the question as to whether or not space weapons are necessary.

Re:When space access becomes cheap and ubiquitous. (2, Funny)

lgw (121541) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269406)

Plus, as everyone knows, if we don't have space weapons, we can be conquered by aliens who only have a stick with a nail in the end.

A dissent (5, Insightful)

ar32h (45035) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269209)

I disagree.
Space is essentially worthless until it is militarized.
Nothing worthwhile is left unguarded.

A space race would be a good thing, in my opinion, because it focuses the much-maligned military-industrial complex on a worthy goal: human occupancy in space.
It may be more efficient to send up the sleek craft of the X-Prize and other private ventures, but heavy lift will probably only come with military ventures.
Getting to space en mass via the military will doubtless cause distress to many who feel that space should be kept pure, untouched by the dirty and unwholesome aspects of human existence.
Keep in mind that most successful ventures in space (and all the major ones) were driven by a space race with heavy military overtones. Such motivation worked once and will work again.

Re:A dissent (4, Interesting)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269270)

Keep in mind that most successful ventures in space (and all the major ones) were driven by a space race with heavy military overtones. Such motivation worked once and will work again.

Not just that, but it would certainly help breath new life into the NASA. Let's face it, NASA is currently being crushed by its own beauracracy.

It may not be long range space missions to Mars and such, but it will certainly help move space flight from where it currently is at the edge of the envelope. The same thing happened with aviation in WWI and WWII. The US and other military powers invested hevily in making aircraft more common place and exploring the variety of roles in which they could be employed. This made aviation safer, more commonplace and in general made the public more aware of it. If the same happens to space flight, only good can come of it.

Re:A dissent (2, Insightful)

CokeBear (16811) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269334)

So lets put it out of its misery. Cut all funding from NASA except the bare minimum to continute to gather data from things already launched (and possibly a few relatively low budget projects that are near completion) and pay down the debt for a few years before launching a new and improved NASA in 15-20 years.

Re:A dissent (1)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269378)

As it stands, NASA gets miniscule amounts of funding compared to other, substantially less useful, government programs.

Not that scrapping the whole organization and restarting might not be a good idea, but its entire budget is a drop in the bucket of the debt or even other programs' budgets.

Re:A dissent (0, Troll)

Tekgno (321071) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269343)

I will probably be modded to hell for this, but I have always said that as a geek, I 3 War.
It is the only guaranteed way of getting large amounts of money invested in useful tech.
Considering WW2 alone, there were many developments in many many fields.

Re:A dissent (1)

domipheus (751857) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269287)

A great point, hopefully a generous portion of the investment the military gets each year currently can go into space projects, weaponry or otherwise - it's money needed in this sector of research.

Re:A dissent (1)

TurdTapper (608491) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269299)

I completely agree. Any kind of a 'race' between competing militaries usually ends up with new technology that benefits all of us, not just in weapons. That may have been the initial intent, but part of it will involve getting more people into space, or an outpost on the moon, or any number of things. It would be a good thing to have a space race.

Re:A dissent (0, Flamebait)

udowish (804631) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269327)

hahaah, gawd! your an idiot

Space Race != Promote human occupancy (3, Interesting)

clevelandguru (612010) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269354)

Space weapon race doesn't promote Human Occupancy in space. All they need is something in the space to shoot down or jam other satellites or fighter jets.

Re:A dissent (1)

Itchy Rich (818896) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269379)

You're right to point out that military motives have in the past driven a lot of significant technological development. However that's not a valid justification for starting a politically explosive policy of space militarisation.

Yes, space has value. It's the ultimate "high ground". That doesn't mean it's a good idea for every country with the capability to throw as many weapons up there as possible... or were you thinking that only the USA would have weapons in space?

Re:A dissent (2, Funny)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269383)

"Nothing worthwhile is left unguarded."

So the US/Canadian border is worthless?

To put it in scientific terms... (2, Insightful)

Willeh (768540) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269210)

We're boned. This kind of stuff scares the hell out of me. Having weapons that can disable other satellites is one thing. The next thing you know, laserbeams from outer space could fry anyone anywhere. And who is gonna handle it? The most violent nation in the world. This is not a dig on the american gung-ho way that seems the norm these days, i'm just putting in the perspective of a foreigner. And like the cruise missiles, they're gonna pull the "It's for our defense, national security, blabla" card to put them up there.

I think it's up to the US taxpayer to put a stop to this insanity. I have a feeling that the US is gonna laugh at the Chinese & Russian efforts to legislate this, possibly causing a cold war in space. Hell, the Cuban missile crisis is nothing compared to some serious strike capabilities in space with a far greater range than some archaic missiles on a carribean island.

Besides, who appointed the USA to be the supreme ruler of space? Surely disabling a satellite orbiting some other nation's (high) air space could be construed as an act of war similar to say, spyplanes in a foreign country's airspace?

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (2, Insightful)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269275)

The most violent nation in the world.

Bit of a stretch, isn't it? The US may be the most powerful country on the planet, and it may be to most arrogant country on the planet, and it may even be the most bullyish country on the planet, but it is hardly the most violent.

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269389)

It has the most weapons and it has been involved in more wars than any other country since the 20th century, it seems to me. Murder rates inside the country are also much higher than anywhere else in the developed world.

Which country would you nominate as being more violent?

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (1)

BillFarber (641417) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269276)

>> Hell, the Cuban missile crisis is nothing compared to some serious strike capabilities in space with a far greater range than some archaic missiles on a carribean island.

This statement shoots your entire argument to hell. Read some history. The Cuban missile crisis was probably the single closest point that humanity has come to self-annihilation. No theoretical threat could ever approach it.

>> Besides, who appointed the USA to be the supreme ruler of space? Surely disabling a satellite orbiting some other nation's (high) air space could be construed as an act of war similar to say, spyplanes in a foreign country's airspace?

The big boys already spy on each other from space (and from the upper atmosphere as well).

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (3, Funny)

murphyslawyer (534449) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269278)

The next thing you know, laserbeams from outer space could fry anyone anywhere.
Naw, that's not really an issue, 'cause if the military DOES try anything a team of wacky kids from Cal Tech [imdb.com] will put a stop to it.

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269298)

>>Besides, who appointed the USA to be the supreme ruler of space?

The Soviet Union

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (1)

Profcrab (903077) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269303)

As long as the big laser satalite has even a 1 in 6,000,000,000 chance of frying Michael Bay I say it is worth the money and the risk.

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (1)

TummyX (84871) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269306)


The most violent nation in the world.

...

P.s. I am NOT a crackpot.


ERROR: Does not compute

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269318)

'And who is gonna handle it? The most violent nation in the world.'

The US is way down on the list. If you wanted a really violent nation to handle it, try China and Somalia.

' i'm just putting in the perspective of a foreigner '

An ignorant one, at that. Probably one of those who thinks that the US-run prison at Guantanam Bay is far worse than the Soviet gulag.

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269323)

The next thing you know, laserbeams from outer space could fry anyone anywhere.

Of course it will always be far cheaper just to send a hired thug to shoot you. I love people who think anyone cares enough about them to point some multibillion dollar array of superscience recon and weaponry in their dirrection.

P.s. I am NOT a crackpot.

No, but well on the way. :-) Keep up the hard work. Try wiritng a small manifesto or keeping a close eye on your mailman.

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (1)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269342)

The next thing you know, laserbeams from outer space could fry anyone anywhere. And who is gonna handle it? The most violent nation in the world.

What, now middle-eastern countries are sending attack satellites up? When did this happen? Oh, wait...

Besides, laser strikes from space are a little more impractical than you seem to think. It's a little complicated.

Besides, who appointed the USA to be the supreme ruler of space?

Space is still a frontier area, and the rule in a frontier is and always has been that it goes to the person who gets there first and can defend that claim. If you don't like it, it's right overhead. Get there yourself. "Noone else can do X because I'm not interested in it" is not an objection that'll get you very far.

Surely disabling a satellite orbiting some other nation's (high) air space could be construed as an act of war similar to say, spyplanes in a foreign country's airspace?

Probably. Of course, just because people are putting it up there doesn't mean they're going to go shooting down other satellites for fun.

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (1)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269349)

Hell, the Cuban missile crisis is nothing compared to some serious strike capabilities in space with a far greater range than some archaic missiles on a carribean island.

How are space based weapons any worse than nuclear missiles stationed 90 miles off your country? Nuclear weapons are the most powerful weapons we have, and they're capable of hitting anywhere on Earth already. How would weapons being stationed in space be any worse?

Besides, who appointed the USA to be the supreme ruler of space? Surely disabling a satellite orbiting some other nation's (high) air space could be construed as an act of war similar to say, spyplanes in a foreign country's airspace?

Who said we're the supreme ruler of space? Did the US tell anyone else that they cannot put satellites there? I hate to break a little reality to you, but both the US and the Soviet union had the capability to knock out each other's satellites decades ago. This really isn't anything new.

And as far as knocking out an enemy Satellite being considered an act of war, you'd be doing that during a war, so it's a moot point.

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269362)

it's up to the US taxpayer to put a stop to this insanity

Too bad that the majority of the US taxpayers that want the US to have supremacy in space. As the most successful free county in the world, the US has a lot of enemies, and a lot of people who want to knock the US off the top.

The American dream is that if you get up every morning, work hard and honest, and play your cards right, you will be successful at the end of your life. We see most other countries in the world as trying to take that away from us.

Now, who do you think the US taxpayers want in control of space: France, China, or the US.

Like the big kid in elementary school who gets picked on for being fat, he doesn't need help defending himself, and doesn't feel obligated to hold the interests of the other students above his own welfare.

-Voted for Bush twice

Re:To put it in scientific terms... (1)

TurdTapper (608491) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269370)

Besides, who appointed the USA to be the supreme ruler of space?

Space is out there, if you don't like it, get yourself up there and rule it first. Those that refuse to step up are the ones appointing us.

Cold Wars (2, Insightful)

scovetta (632629) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269377)

I have a feeling that the US is gonna laugh at the Chinese & Russian efforts to legislate this, possibly causing a cold war in space.

"In space, all wars are cold."
      -Michael Scovetta, Slashdot, 8/8/2005.

"that's no moon..." (3, Insightful)

SomeGuyFromCA (197979) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269213)

except that someone eventually will develop space weapons - it would be the height of arrogance to assume that just because the u.s. backs off, everyone will - and we really don't want to get a late start in that race.

Too late. (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269309)

Sorry but the old USSR already built and deployed space base weapons. They deployed orbital ASAT systems in the early 70s and even armed one of their manned space stations.
The idea that space is weapons free is a myth. If you do not think that spy satellites are not weapons you are just nuts.

Re:"that's no moon..." (1, Flamebait)

cfsmp3 (774544) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269346)

except that someone eventually will develop space weapons - it would be the height of arrogance to assume that just because the u.s. backs off, everyone will - and we really don't want to get a late start in that race.
Typical arguments that Americans have used a lot of times in history to justify starting a lot of things. I guess this kind of reasoning will pass from generation to generation until just there's no generation to pass it to.

Re:"that's no moon..." (0, Redundant)

Knome_fan (898727) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269393)

Just wanted to point out that China, Russia and some EU nations agree with your assessment. Leaving space weapons up to the US though isn't an option for these countries, I'm sure you'll understand that.

Stating that "we really don't want to get a late start in that race" is a good principle to follow, especially considering that the US already prescribed to it, all these nations will start developing space weapons immidiately.

Oh wait, look what we got us into, it's a space arms race.

Unfortunately, just when it all really started, some university students decided they didn't need space weapons and would simply use commercial airliners as weapons of mass destruction. Now isn't that nasty of them...

Yeah... (1)

confusion (14388) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269214)

Because if the US decides not to, the rest of the world will surely follow suit.

I share the opinion that they're a bad thing, but I think it's inevitable.

Nuke the moon!

Jerry
http://www.cyvin.org/ [cyvin.org]

Re:Yeah... (1)

phlegmofdiscontent (459470) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269371)

I agree. Weapons are never necessary, until someone has one. Then you have 3 options: hope they don't want to use them, submit to them, or get some of your own. Just a couple months ago, a report was released pointing out the advances into space weaponry that China has made. If the US does back off, is China? Unlikely. If you believe they will, then I've got a bridge in New York I'd like to sell to you.

We do need space weapons (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269217)

If only for the hilarious MIIIIIILLLLLLLIIIOOOOON dollar plots that are sure to follow.

Sadly (1)

truckaxle (883149) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269219)

Since most technical advances come from arms races maybe this is not altogether a bad thing. Would be prefer money is spent on increasing the effectiveness of anthrax or smart intercepting rockets. .

From the article... (5, Insightful)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269220)


No satellite has been the subject of a direct physical attack in the history of warfare.
Well, sure, but that seems a bit disingenuous... it's like saying that there were zero shuttle accidents between 1000 and 1900.

Wow.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269224)

As if we already didn't know that.

War in space is inevitable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269227)

It's just human nature to want to control and amount as vast a territory as possible... A new space race (with China, and possibly India(!)) is coming, so the US should be prepared. I'm against the militarization of space, personally... but it may very well be a necessity.

We need these weapons.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269230)

otherwise, what will we do when the Gamalons attack?

A high powered laser (1)

AnonDotOrg (902320) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269231)

Could fry a satellite from Earth. This [overheardintheuk.com] is not a high powered laser.

Weapons race loved by big business (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269232)

Keep in mind that there are people in the US government who own or consult for or are in some way related to the big business of providing military equiptment to the government. Of course they want this it's great to win a race, but it's even better to sell everyone shoes.

Re:Weapons race loved by big business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269262)

The generals and SES people in the government that would ultimately make decisions like this are advised daily by contractors who work for the companies that would end up developing the weapons. Technology like this is inevitable, if it doesn't already exist.

To use a space weapon (-1, Flamebait)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269236)

You have to get it into space... Pretty tough for the Americans (-:

Denying other countries the use of space (1)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269263)

Give them the space shuttle (-: Pretty efficient (-:

In other news... (1)

Tikicult (901090) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269296)

Russian rockets to launch US Laser Array Satellites.

Vladimir "Pottie Poot" Putin quoted "I was originally against the idea, but George is paying us a shitload of cash"

Re:To use a space weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269341)

Hahaha.. (not) and what great technological country do you reside in? What reusable space craft does your country use?

Of course we don't! (1)

ziggamon2.0 (796017) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269239)

I for one welcome our new outer space overlords...

Sorry, but this time it's on topic!

I for one... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269363)

...welcome them...with NUCLEAR ARMS!

shoot own feet (2, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269240)

All you need to do is take a look at what country or countries would lose the most if space-based communication and localization functions were lost during a crisis. Actively working to increase the risk of such a scenario is self-defeating and shortsighted (I would like to use the expression "utterly stupid" but people may take offence).

Yes. (1)

krell (896769) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269243)

There are many reasons we need space weapons. How else can we stop the mutant Soviet space dogs once they decide to come down from their decades of orbit? What of the Vermicious Knids who might one day find a way to enter atmospheres without incineration?

And then there is the Battlestar Galactica to consider. It's been up there since 1980, waiting to come down. I'm not worried about chrome Cylons who fall into piles of tin cans if you so much look at them. It's the Galactica soldiers riding their disco-CHiPS motorcycles and the kids with bad Adam Rich haircuts that are the real danger.

Having more capability than your enemy... (1, Insightful)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269246)

is never a bad thing.

Whatever advantage you can give yourself could possibly turn the tide of a battle.

Imagine being able to blind an enemy in a war by knocking out its surveillance and communications capabilities. How is this a bad thing?

People make it sound like it's a bad thing by starting a space arms race, but there could be worse things- such as your enemy being able to knock out your satellites and you have no ability to do the same. If you're able to develop such technology, do it.

china (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269247)

yes, because while we worry about the political corectness of space weapons, china will just march right along. what a brilliant idea.

Promoting space technology (4, Funny)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269250)

Two of the biggest drives behind innovation are:
1) The military
2) Sex

The sooner we get both of those going into space, the sooner we'll get some decent progress in spaceflight technology.

Re:Promoting space technology (1)

netcrusher88 (743318) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269324)

Not in that order, though. 2) tends to be a prerequisite for 1), though 1) may be a "big drive" behind getting 2) up there. Not that I'm complaining, mind...

Can you say "Military Industrial Complex" (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269252)

He argues that developing space weapons is a surefire way to launch a new space weapon race.
Well, duh. That's the point. Between Pork Barrel Politics, the "New World Order" and various facets of Dwight Eisenhower's good old fashioned Military Industrial Complex [wikipedia.org] , the battlefield uses of new weapons systems (or even such minor concerns like whether they work a all *cough* SDI) are about sixth or seventh on the list of important criteria for defense spending.

It's the Goddam Commies stoopid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269258)

You don't think they just gave up in 1989 do you.

They used their Evil Empire (TM) superpowers to fly into outer space and wait for a moment of weakeness. We gotta fight em.

The problem is... (2, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269259)

Who is going to keep these weapons safe? These will have to be remotely fired, and with the state of system security these days I don't trust the government to keep their satellite weapons under control.

Re:The problem is... (1)

Willeh (768540) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269289)

I bet they're gonna hire those guys who broke the Wifi distance challenge a few days back to make a 2-way 802.11g with state of the art WEP encryption to control those puppies in space.

Game theory on space weapons (2, Insightful)

Alphathree (634628) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269264)

A little bit of game theory shows why developing space weapons makes sense from the point of view of any one country.

Certainly, a "conspiracy" of ALL countries agreeing NOT to develop space weapons would be in our collective best interests. But no one works in terms of collective best interests unless it also maximizes their own best interests.

Suppose for a moment that a "conspiracy" (or to make the terminology better for this case, a treaty) existed between all nations that "prevented" the development of space weapons.

Any one country who secretly deviates from that treaty has a LOT to gain.

Thus unless the United States can trust other major powers (China, Russia, EU, Japan) NOT to develop space weapons (which it cannot), the best way to leverage its position is to develop its own space weapons first.

Space weapons? We've got better things to do (5, Insightful)

madro (221107) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269268)

Am I totally opposed to space weapons? Well, not really. Krepon's arguments include:
1) North Korea and Iran don't have space programs. Space weapons would be useful against only Russia and China.
2) The US is the world's most important rule maker or rule breaker. We should set an example and develop a code of conduct.

My response to (1) is that militarily, it sucks to get leapfrogged. You don't want to get passed because of complacency. As for (2), bad actors tend not to follow rules anyway, so will the conduct of the US really shape the behavior of the rest of the world? (I would guess that many outside the US would hope not.)

That said, the opportunity cost for space weapons is *huge*. It feeds into the whole asymmetrical warfare concept -- the US can disable satellites but can't stop an insurgency that everybody saw coming except the secretary of defense.

Furthermore, even within military spending there are better places to spend the money than space weapon deployment. More unmanned systems, better infantry-level support, or faster mobilization (so that the US doesn't build up a force and then claim it's so expensive to keep them there that we have to start the war *right now* -- there were people who said we couldn't wait through a summer ... about $200 billion ago.)

But the best place to spend money, in my opinion, is accelerated research that supports reduced reliance on oil. (Yes, I'm a Thomas Friedman fan.) I wouldn't mind a grant or two to a brilliant poli sci researcher who could figure out how to sell the public on a large gas tax. (and mitigate the effects on the poor?) I think most economists would say a gas tax (or more generally, a carbon tax) is the most efficient way to spur adoption of renewable energy sources. Otherwise, you're hoping the government can pick technological winners and losers. (While reps are getting nice contributions from the farm lobby.)

Re:Space weapons? We've got better things to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269365)

Tax on gas? Hah, yeah right. Why bother, we got world's second largest oil reserves under our control and we could easily take the rest.

What we should spend money is military. More nukes and planes to keep Chine in line. More infantry to hold on to our oil. I guess you are right about the poor. We should mitigate them to Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudia Arabia, Venezuela ja North Korea.

Reality (1)

Egonis (155154) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269279)

I find it so interesting how the world society as a whole is essentially allowing these things to occur. Where is our moral responsibility?

I am from Canada, and loathe the concept of space warfare. Why would anyone want this capability? Another arms race? Great....

The part of this article that really stumped me, is that the interviewee was stating how wrong it is to have Weapons in Space, but conludes with 'if we did, we would win anyway'... doesn't this statement essentially challenge an opponent?

This kind of mentality is exactly what causes arms races!

Re:Reality (1)

The Woodworker (723841) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269361)

I'm from the US and also loathe the concept of space warfare. But, if it's going to happen (and it will, be it 5 years or 1000 years), I'd rather be on the giving end than the receiving.

So I guess space weapons are like anal sex. It's a shitty proposition, but better to be the crack filler than the hole.

Deny access (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269280)

If we don't get along up there, we're going to have problems very quickly. Blow up a enough satellites, and now you have a cloud of virtually impossible to trace debris orbiting the earth at several km/s and presenting a deadly danger to anything else up there. Eventually, it'll be impossible to send anything up without it getting pelted.

Weapons in space do make sense, but only for protection of the Earth from outside dangers, such as wayward asteroids and comets, or as-yet undiscovered hostile alien races.

However, given our current capabilities, if aliens do come here, we better hope that they're friendly and enlightened, because if they're not, any aliens with technology capable of bridging interstellar space are going to laugh at our pitiful weapons. The Kent Brockman approach to dealing with such invaders is, unfortunately, for now, the best one.

But.. (1)

CSHARP123 (904951) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269286)

Its all okay to have space weapons and all but How do you get there, when all the chips falling off of space shuttle.

War of Independence (1)

e1618978 (598967) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269293)

What I am worried about is the coming war of independence - it is likely that the influence of the current nation states (USA, etc) will be extended into space.

Eventually, when we have enough people up there, they will want their own government. If it follows the pattern of the american war of independence, then it may destroy the human race. The people in orbit will have a big advantage, they can just throw rocks and debris down on us.

We plan for this, and set up a government with a constitution in space as soon as there are more than 5000 or so people living in space.

We don't, but the brass do (5, Insightful)

motorsabbath (243336) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269295)

Space weapons have nothing to do with security and everything to do with generating a fresh revenue stream for the military/industrial complex.

The arms industry wants it, so it will happen (1)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269297)

developing space weapons is a surefire way to launch a new space weapon race.
So, there are huge profits waiting for corporations with the right connections. Militarisation of space is stupid and inevitable.

If we guard it. It will become Important to us. (1)

DigitalDwarf (902246) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269302)

If they send up weapons to space that will start to make space much more NEEDED therefore might spark more work to get us up there. This might be what NASA and other space agencys need.

Obviously no. (2, Interesting)

FhnuZoag (875558) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269310)

The simplest argument:

Who are the most plausible opponents in a war in space?

Note that these countries are almost uniformly our close allies, our essential trading partners, and fellow democracies.

Do we really want to militarise against our friends, diverting funding from protecting against clear and present and active offensive enemies?

Re:Obviously no. (2, Informative)

BillFarber (641417) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269356)

>> Note that these countries are almost uniformly our close allies, our essential trading partners, and fellow democracies.

China and Russia may be an essential trading partner (though I suspect we could live without their crap), but they are hardly either of the other two.

Space Weapons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269314)

The answer is no. (Do I get a prize?)

But the weaponry will be placed there by the neocons because it is $$, because of paranoia, because of $$, because the empire/hegemony will demand it and because it will make them rich.

Next question

Gentlemen... (4, Funny)

JohnPerkins (243021) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269319)

We must develope this basselope-based weapons system. Rumors are that the russians have a basselope of their own. Do you know what that means, boy? A BASSELOPE GAP!!!

Future history... (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269322)

Because of the space weapons race, countries create satellites that can defend themselves from attack. Unfortunately, satellites that pass each other too closely inadvertently fire upon each other and destroy themselves. So satellites have to be made smarter. Eventually satellites become smart enough to join together and restrict access to space as the best preemptive defense move. Mankind, not wanting to be trapped on Earth, launch a ground based attack to take out the satellites. Satellites retaliate, and destroy all human habitation on the planet, knocking mankind back to the stone age. Peace reigns in space.

Only if our alien overlords... (1)

IronChefMorimoto (691038) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269331)

...are just interested in more than real estate in Miami. Otherwise, let 'em move in. No need for space guns.

IronChefMorimoto

Define "need" (4, Interesting)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269335)

Do we need to defend ourselves to the best degree possible in times of war? Certainly, we do.

Do we need war at all? Certainly, we don't.

Is war inevitable, space weapons or not? 3,000 years of history says it is.

Which is more practical, pretending that war won't happen or accepting that it will? With the latter being more realistic, we may then follow through with the most effective defense and proceed with developing space weapons.

We've always been in some weapons race, though not necessarily at the pace of the Cold War. Space weapons won't initiate any Cold War-esque weapons race as much as any of our other weapons have. They're not holocaust devices like nukes or any NBC weaponry. Without anti-satellite weapons, we're back at traditional warfare. With those weapons, we only take it outside of earth.

Space weaponry if anything will reduce war to a battle of communications and intelligence, where space coverage matters more than occupying ground. With troops and conventional weapons reduced in importance, satellites will be the main casualties, as long as they directly affect the ground war below.

What about the Cylons (2, Funny)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269337)

And how are we supposed to ward off a cylon attack without space weapons?

Against treaties (3, Interesting)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269340)

People seem to forget or ignore the fact that deploying space-based wepondry goes against the ABM (Anti Ballistic Missile) Treaties signed by us and the USSR. Bush has already broken these treaties in testing many of his toys. Does no one care that he has such disregard for them? He has stated that the treaties are too limimting and therefore aren't in the best interest of our country, a fact I wholeheartedly disagree with.

Re:Against treaties (3, Informative)

BillFarber (641417) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269380)

The USSR no longer exists, hence the treaty no longer exists. Not to mention the fact that the ABM is ridiculously antiquanted.

Haven't you heard? (4, Insightful)

krell (896769) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269385)

'Treaties signed by us and the USSR. Bush has already broken these treaties in testing many of his toys'

Haven't you heard? There is no USSR.

'He has stated that the treaties are too limimting and therefore aren't in the best interest of our country, a fact I wholeheartedly disagree with'

At least you admit it is a fact. Too bad you do not like it. Treaties which ban entirely-defensive efforts are certainly not in our interest.

Cites? (1)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269395)

Please explain how ASATs violate the ABM treaty.

Also, please explain how a treaty with a country that does not exist can remain in force.

Other countries gain more by disabling satellites (4, Insightful)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269350)

Quote from the article:
MK: Weaponizing space would be very unwise. No satellite has been the subject of a direct physical attack in the history of warfare. Whatever we do sets a precedent that others will follow. We depend so heavily on satellites to protect lives and wage war with a minimum of collateral damage. Attacks on satellites would mean that wars become a whole lot more difficult for our forces in the field and a lot more harmful to noncombatants.

So in short, you can reduce the efficiency of the US army by taking out their satellites. Since other countries are denied access to space, this would be a good tactic for such a country. They will be more dependent and more trained in a war without satellite information, and will be enabled by such a move to get the upperhand in a conflict.

I think the US better invest in protecting their own satellites since they are the softpoint.

PS Disabling satellites by large lasers might work since you could fry just a few components like a photo optic chip, the rest of the satellite is packed in a heat blanket to reflect sunlight and thus a laser will just reflect of that too (at least most of it, rendering it pretty useless, if the atmosphere didn't do that yet)

Too late for debate... (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269352)

Space weapons already exist, and the U.S., China, and Russia most certainly have them deployed, and maybe others too.

well I don't know about the rest of you (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269353)

but I, for one, need space weaponry.

I have this plan, see....... ++++D($(W*SD*Z[NO CARRIER]

::oveclocked:: Podcast (2, Informative)

LostCauz (121686) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269359)

there is a podcast called overclocked that had an entire podcast on this topic a few weeks ago, it was pretty interesting...worth a listen.

http://overclocked.libsyn.com/ [libsyn.com]

Weapons don't help secure space (2, Insightful)

convex_mirror (905839) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269360)

If there were weapons systems that had to be placed in space in order to protect space assets than I suppose there might be a good argument for space weapons. However, that is simply not the case. I cannot think of a single potential threat to military or civilian satellites that cannot be countered from the ground more effectively for orders of magnitude less money. Really, the only argument for putting weapons into space is that it seems cool and would be intimidating - I'm tired of our military spending money this way. More accurately, there are a group of people in the present administration who believe that it is important to 'unfetter' the U.S.'s hands from any treaties or taboos in the event that somewhere down the line there will be something useful with this stuff we need to do. This is not wise. The taboo is actually valuable to us, because having explosions go off in space ends up creating debris fields which threaten present assets in space (which could be disastrous in Geosynchronous orbit) - and the U.S. is the country with the most military and civilian assets in space. In short - it costs more to use space weapons, it is less effective, and it removes a taboo which is primarily protecting U.S. space assets. Until those factors change, seems pretty dumb to me.

Yes, let's turn our backs on space weapons. (4, Insightful)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269366)

Because we all know how well banning weapons has worked before.

The first attempt I can remember was when the Pope tried to prohibit crossbows. The most recent is the Japanese ban on firearms - which worked quite well until Admiral Perry showed up.

reminds me of.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13269368)

I'm already thinking that something like this could lead to things like they needed to have in planetes (manga & anime), debris cleanup crews and such to keep space in useable condition for things like commercial high-speed transport and such. from that picture, it looks like we've already got quite a dangerous amount of debris up there, and space weapons would probably increase that exponentially.

But how feasible is this ? (1)

karvind (833059) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269372)

There was a report published in Review of Modern Physics about Boost-Phase Intercept Systems for National Missile Defense [aip.org] (424 pages).

According to the report it was not feasible to make intercepts for IBCM weapons based on limited time and accuracy required. I wonder if space weapons will have any less technological challenges ?

Another Space Issue to Over-Engineer (1)

pastpolls (585509) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269373)

I would have no problems with space based weapons if they worked, but like anything that NASA sends to space the issue will be over-engineered to the point of failure. Lasers and fancy missles will be researched and costs of billions of dollars when a handfull of dropped ball bearing could do just as much damage falling from space. Let those super-computers compute the falling trajectory of ball bearing from space and everytime we need something shot, just have a satellite push a handfull of ball bearing to earth and let then rain down on the target.

This guy may just have a point.... (2, Funny)

linuxrunner (225041) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269375)

Follow my logic here:

Without Space Weapons, there would be no Star Trek
Without Star Trek, there would be no Captain Kirk
Without Captain Kirk, there would be no Geeks
Without Geeks, there would be no Slashdot
Without Slashdot, I would stop wasting time at work

So: No Space Weapons = No Geeks = No Slashdot = A Raise in our National GDP

Therefore: Profit!

Why We Need Space Weapons (1)

liangzai (837960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269384)

We need space weapons in order to defend ourselves against the Goa'uld and the Replicators.

Kidding aside, it is inevitable that we develop such weapons, as it is inevitable that we will someday extend the human race's Lebensraum. Far away from today, there will be en encounter with another world's creatures, and I'd rather be prepared for the worst than be a sitting duck offering the potential enemy a peace pipe.

If a weapon can be devloped, it will be developed. Any weapon that is developed will be deployed.

Not a good idea at this point in time. (1, Funny)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269386)

The US has been anything but responsible over the past 5 years, so I wouldn't think of it as a good idea to do this right now.

Maybe in the future once dickhead is out of office, but.. not any time soon.

The same old military-industrial establishment (1)

Logic Bomb (122875) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269400)

That's a term that's not fashionable anymore, but it's still no joke. Defense contracting is enormously big business. The contractors employ people in as many states as possible, so that they can go to as many Representatives and Senators as possible and say, "if you push for X, there will be more jobs for your constituents." So Congress approves tons of defense projects, which further enriches the contractors so they can keep the cycle going. Also, tons of military officers "retire" (at an early age -- the military lets you do that) and go straight into the contractor side of the industry, so there's a ton of cronyism and friends pushing contracts for each other's benefit.

Don't listen to anyone's arguments about the necessity for space-based weapons unless they don't have a personal financial stake in a "space race". Defense contractors would LOVE to have another cold-war-ish Reagan-style flood of money into the industry, and a "space race" sounds like a great way to do that.

We already have them (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 9 years ago | (#13269401)

ICBMs fly through space.

Recon satellites (imaging and communications) provide vital intel to the military, and are thus (in a sense) weapons. They are certainly things you might want to negate.

Comsats are also vital to military operations.

Negating the above, and making the above resistant to negation, are certainly aspects of weaponization, and are just as certainly important.

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