How do you feel about military presence in space? Do you think it should be (a) blocked, (b) implied, (c) clandestine, or (d) open, funded and growing? If you picked (d), the Space Force may be interested in hiring you for its PR department.
“NASA’s partnerships are vital to ensuring America continues to lead the world in the peaceful uses of outer space.” (Jim Bridenstine)
On September 21, 2020, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, U.S. Space Force (USSF) Chief of Space Operations, signed a “memorandum of understanding” with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine that brings the two organizations together in a way Bridenstine says “continues our rich legacy of collaboration with the Defense Department” and Raymond says will provide “a secure, stable, and accessible space domain.”
“NASA and the military share a long history dating back to the late 1950s; there is power in our partnership.” (Gen. John “Jay” Raymond)
Well, that depends on how you look at it. While it’s true that the space program was born out of the Cold War with the USSR and the first astronauts were military pilots, that’s primarily because the vast majority of pilots and test pilots in the U.S. (and the world) were current or former military personnel. However, while some missions bore a flag-waving and flag-planting air, the majority quickly gravitated to scientific purposes, especially in the eras of the space stations and the Space Shuttle. That was obvious with the significant amount of sharing between NASA and the Russian space program, which continues today on the ISS but has become a financial arrangement on the transport end, with that ‘business’ going quickly to private U.S. firms.
“We are an instrument of national power. It is soft power, it is diplomatic power, information power, economic power. This is really a tool of diplomacy for the nation, but we can’t do any of those things if space is not secure. And that’s why it was important to create the Space Force, that’s why it’s important for NASA to partner with the Space Force.”
At a forum announcing the agreement, Bridenstine described the justification for the new agreement, which replaces the one signed 14 years ago by NASA and the Air Force Space Command. It’s telling that the new one with the Space Force is described as a “tool of diplomacy” – that’s not far from Orwell’s “War is peace” in “1984.” Why is this first step in “diplomacy” an agreement to be heavily armed?
“Freedom of action in space provides NASA and allied-nation space agencies the ability to explore and discover, and will enable America’s return to the Moon and subsequent exploration of Mars.”
This sentence in the press release contains another revealing phrase: “allied-nation space agencies.” That’s not “NASA and all of humanity.” Does anyone really know today who the allies of the U.S. truly are … in space or on Earth?
We have already made space the same kind of unable-to-clean-up junkyard that the planet has become. Must we make it another battleground as well?
When the armed guards arrive at the ISS, it will already be too late.