Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New US Space Policy Emphasizes National Interest.

President Bush has signed a new space policy for the United States. Unclassified portions of the policy are available in a PDF document at the Office of Science and Technology Policy website. (Here.) Spacedaily.com publishes a story that leads with the news that the new space policy "rejects the development of arms control agreements that could restrict or limit U.S. access to or use of space. It also calls for the development of space capabilities that support U.S. defense and intelligence initiatives." (Here.) Well, let's hope so.

Here are the relevant passages from the new policy:
"• The United States considers space capabilities -- including the ground and space segments and supporting links -- vital to its national interests. Consistent with this policy, the United States will: preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space; dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so; take those actions necessary to protect its space capabilities; respond to interference; and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests;

• The United States will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space. Proposed arms control agreements or restrictions must not impair the rights of the United States to conduct research, development, testing, and operations or other activities in space for U.S. national interests;" (See pp. 2-3 of OSTP pdf.)


The current international legal regime for space pretends that space is a place where national conflicts will not occur. Space is supposed to be a place for international cooperation and peaceful coexistence and exploration. This is all nonsense, of course. Space may be above the sky but it's not heaven and when people go there we don't become angels.

The new US space policy pays lip service to the current legal regime but it is clear that the Bush Administration views space as a place just like any other where the United States will assert and protect its national interests and where the nation will seek to retain its dominance. This is refreshing, actually. The United States depends on space for national defense and it had better be able to protect its assets up there.

-tdr

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