Douglas A-4 Skyhawk by Peter Kilduff

By Peter Kilduff

Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

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45 Advocates of space weaponry also argue that, in effect, space is already weaponized, at least in subtle ways. As noted, most medium-range and long-range rockets capable of carrying nuclear weapons constitute latent ASATs. Likewise, rockets and space-launch vehicles could probably be used to launch small homing satellites equipped with explosives and capable of approaching and then destroying another satellite. Such capabilities may not even require testing, or at least testing easily detectable from Earth.

Presumably, one might contend, putting weapons in space is either good or bad. If bad, should it not be precluded permanently; and if good on national security grounds, should it not be pursued without guilt or reservation? In point of fact, space weapons are not inherently good or bad. Unlike biological weapons or many types of land mines, they are not by nature inhumane; yet, unlike the next type of 21 INTRODUCTION fighter jet or munition, they are not just the natural progression of military modernization.

It differs less from the de facto approach of the Bush administration since September 11, 2001, when the United States chose to emphasize the need for great power security cooperation against terrorism and to seek accommodation or delay on issues that could impede that priority effort. But even today, the Bush administration retains the aspiration for space-based missile defense and funds programs to that effect; it retains a space policy doctrine emphasizing the possibility of destroying the satellites of potential adversaries; it refuses to negotiate even very limited accords on uses of space that might, for example, prevent the production of more debris in low-Earth orbit; and it establishes no policy roadblocks to the rapid weaponization of space, should it choose to move in that direction in any new budget plan.

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