While the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee has cancelled their planned joint hearing today with the House Science and Technology Committee about the investigation into the NASA inspector general (going so far as to remove the press release last week announcing the hearing from their web site), there is a space-related hearing this afternoon. The Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is holding a hearing today titled “Weaponizing Space: Is Current U.S. Policy Protecting Our National Security?”. The purpose of the hearing is to “examine the 2006 National Space Policy (unclassified version) and the impact of Administration policies on the use of space by other countries, such as the January 2007 anti-satellite test by China.” The first panel of speakers includes the head of the National Security Space Office, Maj. Gen. James Armor, as well as a State Department official; the second features a fairly typical group of outside experts.
As a prelude to the hearing, the Center for American Progress issued a statement Tuesday critical of any future US plans to develop space-based weapons. The piece is a little odd in that it focused on space-based weapons for use against targets on the ground, as opposed to other spacecraft. Most of the debate, of course, has been on the latter, both after the public release of the policy and again after the Chinese ASAT test in January. Yet the Center for American Progress paper, after describing all the problems inherent with the use of space-based weapons against terrestrial targets, concludes with recommendations about how to protect US space assets from attack, or mitigate the effects of one: “Rather than investing in space-based weapons, the U.S. government should develop satellites that can operate from farther away to ensure safety from attack, and build a stockpile of satellites in case existing ones are jammed or destroyed.”