It is highly likely that the Trump administration will move to have the U.S. deploy weapons in space. If this happens, it will be profoundly destabilizing, setting off an arms race and, also likely, leading to war in space.
For decades there's been interest by U.S. administrations -- the Reagan administration with its "Star Wars" plan a leading example -- in placing weapons in space. But that has alternated with some administrations more-or-less opposed, the Obama administration an example.
Still, no matter the administration, since work at the United Nations began in 1985 on a treaty seeking, as its title declares, the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, the U.S. has not supported it. Canada, Russia and China have been leaders in urging passage of this PAROS treaty, and there has been virtually universal backing from nations around the world. But by balking, U.S. administration after administration has prevented its passage.
The weaponization of space has long been sought by the U.S. military. The U.S. Air Force Space Command and U.S. Space Command (now merged into the U.S. Strategic Command) have repeatedly described space as the "ultimate high ground." click here There has been continued development of space weapons.
Atomic physicist Edward Teller, the main figure in developing the hydrogen bomb and instrumental in founding Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, pitched to Ronald Reagan, when he was governor of California visiting the lab, a plan of orbiting hydrogen bombs, which became the initial basis for Reagan's "Star Wars." The bombs were to energize X-ray lasers. "As the bomb at the core of an X-ray battle station exploded, multiple beams would flash out to strike multiple targets before the entire station consumed itself in in a ball of nuclear fire," explained New York Times journalist William Broad in his book Star Warriors.
So there was a shift on Star Wars to battle platforms having nuclear reactors or super-plutonium-fueled radioisotope thermoelectric generators on board that would provide the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and also laser weapons.
What kind of space weaponry might scientists and the military sell Trump on?
"Under Trump, GOP to Give Space Weapons Close Look," was the headline of an article last month in Roll Call, a reliable 61-year-old Washington-based media outlet. The article said "Trump's thinking on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect's other defense proposals. But experts expect such programs to account for a significant share of what is likely to be a defense budget boost, potentially amounting to $500 billion or more in the coming decade." click here
Intense support for the Republican president's plans is anticipated from the GOP-dominated Congress. Roll Call noted that Representative Trent Franks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and an Arizona Republican, "said the GOP's newly strengthened hand in Washington means a big payday is coming for programs aimed at developing weapons that can be deployed in space."
It quoted Franks as saying: "It was a Democrat mindset that caused us to step back from space-based defense assets to ostensibly not 'weaponize space,' while our enemies proceeded to do just that, and now, we find ourselves in a grave deficit."
As to what space weapons the Trump administration might be interested in, the website Blasting News in an article last month -- headed "Donald Trump administration to develop space weapons" -- pointed to what has been called "rods from God." This piece opened with: "One of the significant changes that the incoming Trump administration is contemplating in defense is the development of space-based weapons." It said "another approach the incoming administration will look at will be space-based weapons that could strike targets on Earth. One idea that has kicked around for decades is a system that would consist of a tungsten projectile and a navigation system. Upon command, these 'rods from God' as they are poetically called would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and would strike a target, even one in a superhardened underground banker, at 36,000 feet per second, obliterating it." click here
As an op-ed piece by two "senior Trump policy advisors" titled "Donald Trump's 'peace through strength' space vision" in Space News in October said, the Trump administration will "lead the way on emerging technologies that have the potential to revolutionize warfare."
Trump's priorities for our military space program are clear: We must reduce our current vulnerabilities and assure that our military commands have the space tools they need for their missions." The op-ed was by Robert Walker who as a congressman chaired the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee and is now chairman of the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Committee and Peter Navarro, a professor of business at the University of California-Irvine. http://spacenews.com/op-ed-donald-trumps-peace-through-strength-space-doctrine/
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