Wednesday, June 11, 2014


A regular reader here, Ms. M.W. shared this, and since our attention has been on space matters lately, we need to take a look at it. It concerns that “space fence” or early warning system the Pentagon wants to construct to detect space debris that threatens satellites: the article is here:
Pentagon plans project to combat ‘space junk chain reaction,’ but is it really incoming space rocks they’re worried about?
If you scroll down to the comments you’ll see a remark by someone claiming to have worked for the space command who states that he(or she) attempted to get the Space Command to include asteroid detection as a system mission and requirement, and stating that radar is not adequate to this purpose, and that optical telescopes of medium aperture would be better. This, the commentator notes, was not implemented due to “politics.”
I suspect that this might be the case. Let’s recall that Russia’s former president Dmitri Medvedev, approximately a month prior to the Chelyabinsk meteor incident called for a world wide asteroid detection and defense system, and that Russia could and should put into place the components of such a system at least for Russian protection, but that he admitted the project would require international cooperation. Telescopes were a component of his suggestions, indicating that his remarks most likely had been carefully prepared, and that Mr.. Medvedev had doubtlessly been briefed by his country’s science and defense experts. This raises the prospect that the “politics” which the commentator refers to might have been as much about international cooperation on such plans as about internal domestic politics within the USA, or for that matter, within the Pentagon itself.
This raises the speculative possibility that we are indeed looking at the first steps in a system that ultimately is designed not only to serve as a kind of “space air traffic control” system, with its warnings of near collisions and so on, but also as the first component of a wider system designed precisely for asteroid defense. So what might one look for in coming months and years if this is the case?
One would look for precisely what Mr. Medvedev suggested in his remarks: a system combining both Earth-based and space-based radars and telescopes. That, it would appear, would be the indication that we are looking perhaps at the approach to the penultimate stage of Dr. Carol Rosin’s recounting of what Dr. Von Braun told her would be the stages argued for the weaponization of space: first Communists, then terrorists, then “nations of concern,” then asteroids, and finally, aliens…
The real question, in that context, then becomes: how did he know it? What process of policy-formation within those rarefied heights had led to the conclusion that there was a need for asteroid defense and a system to defend against aliens? Was it merely a conveniently invented threat to accomplish a more mundane earthly geopolitical agenda? Or was it real? And if real, what process led to the conclusion that the Earth needed a system to defend against aliens? Or was it somewhere between these two poles?

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