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2 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: The ... · 0 replies · +4 points

This is not correct:

"Pursuant to Article IV of the Treaty, that freedom is not unrestricted, and does not allow nations to place nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction in orbit or elsewhere in outer space, nor to establish military bases, test any kind of weapon, or conduct military maneuvers, especially on the Moon and celestial bodies."

The prohibition on military bases, testing, and maneuvers ONLY applies to the Moon and other celestial bodies. It does not apply to outer space itself.

4 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Asse... · 2 replies · +7 points

There are several US and Indian authors and media outlets who have argued that China is doing what you claim, but the real-world evidence that China equates the Moon with the SCS or Taiwan is very thin. I testified about this exact issue before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission last year: http://swfound.org/media/206425/weeden_uscc_testi...

12 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: In s... · 1 reply · +3 points

"We are simply following what the PLA and the Russian Aerospace Force have done 5 years before us, in recognizing that Space is now a contested military domain, already. It is already militarized, in that they fully intend to disable our present military space assets, or threaten to do so, in times when military conflict is imminent."

We are not following them, in fact we're going the opposite direction. Both China and Russia moved to better integrate space with other capabilities while we're moving to make it more separate.

Also you have your causality backwards. Russia and China created their Aerospace Force and SSF, respectively, in response to the US having used space to support conventional warfare for 3 decades. We've considered space to be as warfighting domain and had orgs dedicated to that for a very long time, we just didn't talk about it publicly.

34 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Why ... · 1 reply · 0 points


50 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Time... · 1 reply · +2 points

That is correct. However, I've heard that a proposal to do just that was shot down by Sec. Chao due to strong objections from the FAA. So it seems there is not the Executive Branch will to make the change at this point.

52 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Revi... · 1 reply · +5 points

This is not quite true. Yes, the Reagan Administration made GPS part of its political response to KAL07, but it was always intended to be used for civil purposes since the beginning. The very first GPS satellite supported civil signals, as explained here: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3509/1

And in fact it was the Clinton Administration that made the key policy decision in 1996 to turn off Selective Availability (and the random error up to 100 meters it imposed on the civil GPS signal) that really should be thanked for enabled all the great civil benefits from GPS today.

It was the Bush 43 Administration that made the key policy decision in 2004 to push for a common civil signal for all GNSS systems, leading to the creation of IGS to coordinate those efforts.

56 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Weap... · 4 replies · 0 points

Yes, but that doesn't mean China might not still consider doing it.

The US has done lots of dumb things that it thought would deter/de-escalate a situation and just ended up making things worse because it misjudged or misunderstood another country's internal politics and priorities.

56 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Weap... · 6 replies · +3 points

I actually agree with most of this! Particularly the frustration on the classic "weaponization" debate and the lack of legal definition, although I will point out that in LOAC/IHL in general there are strong legal decisions of weapons as "means or method of warfare" and lots of commentary from the ICRC on what that means.

And ASATs are definitely not a good deterrent of attacks on satellites (i.e. they don't offer the same tit-for-tat deterrence value as nukes do) but they can be used to deter political actions. For example, if China was to threaten destruction of the SBIRS/DSP satellites covering the Pacific to deter the US from intervening in an invasion of Taiwan, that might work.

When Russia/China say they are "afraid of US space weapons" they are talking about either space-based interceptors and/or space-to-ground weapons. Successful development of either of those capabilities (which itself is a huge question) would negate the Russian/China nuclear deterrent, which is a huge concern for them (as it would be for the U.S. if the roles were reversed).

58 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Why ... · 1 reply · +10 points

"For China, the Moon is a means to an end to build industrial capacity on the lunar surface to then accomplish its goals of asteroid mining and deep space exploration and exploitation. A research base on the Moon, with industrial capacity to build and support spacecraft using lunar resources, such as water for rocket propellant, will bring down costs of interplanetary travel."

What is the reference for this assertion that the Chinese government has decided to do asteroid mining and industry on the Moon? Yes, some Chinese scientists are talking about that possibility and probably hoping that's the case, but where's the evidence that the actual policy decision has been made? What's the budget allocation and how will they pay for all these scientific missions to Mars and asteroids plus a huge crewed lunar base plus building/operating a large space station in LEO?

American scientists and NASA talk about future programs and activities all the time that are not reality; they're just pitches that they hope to one day get funded.

62 weeks ago @ The Space Review: essa... - The Space Review: Cong... · 1 reply · 0 points

To Robert's point, for all the sturm and drang about how big government regulation is killing commercial space tourism, and hype about how NOW is the moment when space tourism will happen, it still really hasn't. Yes, Virgin had a great test flight this week, but it still has yet to fly its first paying customer (let alone establish a profitable business). And nearly every other firm has flamed out.

Despite continuously punting any sort of regulation of suborbital spaceflight into the future, it still has not become an established business. Like in The Money Pit, it always seems to be "two weeks" in the future. What that suggests is that if the core technology isn't ready or the market doesn't exist, all this Congressional effort doesn't have that big of an impact one way or the other. Or maybe it's necessary but not sufficient.

Of course, when it finally does happen for reals, that's not going to prevent Newt or any of these other politicians from claiming credit for making it happen.