A billion dollars for space weapons? Kinda.

An article in Monday’s issue of Aerospace Daily caught my eye with this lede: “The Defense Department’s fiscal 2008 budget request includes just more than $1 billion in programs that could support the development of anti-satellite and space-based weapons capabilities, according to a new analysis from the Center for Defense Information (CDI).” The report references a CDI press release from late last week and accompanying budget analysis to support that conclusion. CDI uses this analysis to conclude that “In the absence of a clear national strategy to secure the future use of space, the development and testing of such technologies and the deployment of dual-use capabilities without rules of the road for their operations will threaten other nations and drive U.S. policy toward space weaponization.”

A review of their budget analysis shows that CDI has a very expansive definition of “anti-satellite and space-based weapons capabilities”. They include some technology demonstration programs, like XSS and NFIRE, which could enable future space weapons (although that’s not necessarily their only application). CDI also throws in systems with any application to potential space-based missile defense. The analysis, though, also includes programs like Operationally Responsive Space, which, one can argue, could support the development and launch of ASATs and such, although ORS has seen a lot of interest recently as a way to respond to ASAT systems by providing a means to quickly deploy gapfillers and temporary replacements in the event on-orbit assets are attacked. CDI also counts relatively benign systems, such as a ground-based jammer and a surveillance systems, which are not considered space weapons, at least in the conventional sense. At least they didn’t include EELV funding: after all, a lot of these proposed space-based missile defense and other weapons systems may be too big to launch on small boosters, and a space-based weapon does no good on the ground…

4 comments to A billion dollars for space weapons? Kinda.

  • The obvious way of dealing with ASAT weapons aimed at GEO targets is to destroy their launch facilities. China for example only has three (they are building a fourth) launch sites capable of supporting the large boosters needed to reach GEO.

  • richardb

    Well if the CDI takes an expansive view of American space based defense programs, imagine how creative our Chinese and Russian friends will be if we get down to negotiating a treaty to ban ASAT’s.

    By the way, the CDI says “In the absence of a clear national strategy to secure the future use of space,…”. Wait. Clinton published one about 9 years ago. Bush just did his own update. That is one democratic and republican administration. Bi-partisan. Maybe someone should tell Teresa Hutchinson and the CDI about those publications.

  • Kevin Parkin

    The philosophical endpoint for CDI is to oppose progress in space, as any progress may be used offensively.

    I argue that ORS makes ASATs less relevant, not more so – it is a stabilizing factor and I believe a commensurate response to the present situation. Onset of China war with Taiwan may rest on our successful implementation of ORS in fact, not on paper.

    AF are no longer credible on space, they have failed as they have lost their best space people and continue to do so. I challenge AF to prove otherwise.

  • Yeah, more weapons in space!

    Glad to see our resources being put to good use. Is it me, or is it in our nature to destroy ourselves?

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