Familiar faces on the science committee

The House Science and Technology Committee today announced its roster of members and subcommittee assignments. As expected, Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) will be the chairman of the space and aeronautics committee, with Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) becoming the ranking minority member, flip-flopping the roles the two had in the previous Congress. The rest of the […]

Tight budgets ahead?

In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush said that next month he will “submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years.” Nevermind, of course, that the five-year goal has little meaning since in two years a new president, doubtless with new budget plans, will be in […]

Administrivia: potential disruptions

I am going to be doing some upgrades and other technical work on this blog over the next week or so (I’m using essentially the same version of Movable Type as when this blog started three years ago; it’s time for a change). All of this work should be behind the scenes, but it’s possible […]

China fesses up

The one major development in the China ASAT saga in the last 24 hours was news that China officially admitted that it carried out the test, although it claims that it is still interested in the “peaceful development of outer space” and that the nation “has never, and will never, participate in any form of […]

More commentary (but little news) about China’s ASAT test

This weekend provided more opportunity for commentary about China’s ASAT test earlier this month, but also very little news. China continues to remain silent about the test, and that silence is the subject of much speculation in the US, the New York Times reports this morning. Some Americans officials, such as National Security Adviser Stephen […]

Russia: what ASAT test?

While the US and a number of other countries are condemning the test of an ASAT weapon by the Chinese, Russian defense minister Sergei Ivanov is taking a very different tack, claiming that the test actually did not take place. “I have heard such rather unsubstantiated reports, and I am afraid they are unfounded,” RIA […]

China ASAT test reactions and questions

The news first announced Wednesday night that China tested an ASAT weapon last week, destroying a satellite, became one of the biggest stories internationally yesterday. The report was confirmed by a National Security Council spokesman yesterday morning, and by the end of the day the US and other countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia, and South Korea, had “expressed concern” about the test. The Chinese have remained silent, with no news about the test in state-run media.

The test does raise several questions about which there has been a lot of speculation, but few firm answers:

Why did China conduct the test? The test took a lot of people by surprise (although apparently not in the US intelligence community, which believed that a test was imminent), both because of the bluntness of it and the fact that, prior to it, China had insisted it had no interest in space weapons and was pushing for a treaty to ban such devices. “There’s nothing subtle about this,” Michael Krepon of the Stimson Center told the New York Times. Does this mean that China is no longer interested in a ban on such weapons, or is it an effort to get the attention of the US and force it to the negotiation table?

How will the Bush Administration respond? Will the US, in fact, reconsider its stance on PAROS, now that there is evidence of an “arms race in space”, or will it push the US to accelerate work on defensive and offensive counterspace systems? The Union of Concerned Scientists wants the US to take the former path, but that would involve a significant change of course from the current national space policy.

What about Congress? The House and Senate armed services committees will get classified briefings about the Chinese ASAT test today, Space News reports [subscription required]. One member of Congress, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation, condemned the test in a statement but also called on the administration to negotiate a ban on space weapons. “American satellites are the soft underbelly of our national security, and it is urgent that President Bush move to guarantee their protection by initiating an international agreement to ban the development, testing, and deployment of space weapons and anti-satellite systems.”

Earth sciences, exploration, and budgets

Earlier this week the National Academy of Sciences released a report on the state of Earth sciences from space. The report warned that the existing fleet of Earth science spacecraft could degrade significantly in the next decade because of decreased funding for such programs, especially at NASA. Without a new generation of Earth science missions, […]

This will impact the space weaponization debate

Remember all the debate in the weeks and months following the release of the new national space policy that the US was opening the door to the weaponization of space—and perhaps imperiling the security of its own space assets—by appearing to go down the road of space weaponization? Now comes work from Aviation Week that […]

Marshall Institute national security space forum

For those of you interested in the new national space policy and its implications for national security, the Marshall Institute is hosting an event Monday morning, January 22nd, titled “Forum on National Security Space – Space Issues in 2007″. The three-hour hour event, held at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, is intended to “examine […]