Andrei Kislyakov / RIA Novosti – 2006-04-08 10:01:23
Weaponization Of Space Will Have Unpredictable Consequences
MOSCOW (April 7, 2006) — The United States has promised to make public in the next few months its new space doctrine, which allows for the deployment of weapons in outer space. Colonel Anthony Russo, chief of the US Strategic Command’s space and global strike division, said the time was ripe for clearly stipulating the Pentagon’s responsibility for the security of the national space group.
Space-based laser and kinetic energy weapons will be used against those who create obstructions to US satellites. Logically, this will lead to the creation of a space theater of war.
Much has been written and said about the inadmissibility of space weaponization. In early March, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN office in Geneva Valery Loshchinin said again that the placement of weapons in space would “provoke a new round of the race for nuclear missile and other arms, both in space and on the Earth, which would boost the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles.”
Russia has reaffirmed that it would not become the first to orbit weapons of any type and called on all countries to follow its example.
But appeals are quickly muffled when weapons are cocked.
“Russia has the ability for an adequate response to the countries that orbit their weapons,” Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said during an official visit to China in late August 2005. “Both Americans and Russians are actively using space for military purposes. However, they have been observing certain limits so far, deploying only communications, targeting, intelligence and other [defense-related] spacecraft. These are not weapons. But the deployment of weapons in space will have unpredictable consequences.”
You can imagine the consequences from another of the minister’s quotes: “We are orbiting commercial spacecraft from 30 or 40 countries, if I remember correctly,” he said. “As to carrier rockets, they are quite another matter.”
Russia annually orbits a great deal of other countries’ payloads and it does not always know what exactly those are. Therefore, the Russian space industry may become an indirect hostage to an orbital conflict, which means the renewal of the race for all imaginary weapons, with a logical “adequate response”.
Back in 1983, Yury Andropov, then General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee, publicly announced the termination of all space weapons programs in the Soviet Union. The country made that gesture of goodwill in the hope that the US would abandon its Star Wars program.
From the late 1950s to the early 1980s, the Soviet Union had attained considerable success in the creation of combat space systems. In 1959, the OKB-52 specialized machine-building design bureau started creating an anti-satellite (ASAT) defense system. At the same time, the NII-4 research institute of the defense ministry started analyzing possible ways of fighting potential adversaries’ satellites.
These efforts came to a head on June 18, 1982 when the Soviet General Staff held an exercise simulating a nuclear and space war that lasted more than seven hours.
First, two UR-100 (SS-11 SEGO) intercontinental ballistic missiles were launched, closely followed by an intermediate-range mobile missile Pioner (a predecessor of Topol) and a ballistic missile launched from a nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea.
After that, two anti-missiles were launched at the warheads and the interceptor satellite Kosmos-1379 was launched into a low, near-Earth orbit from the Baikonur spaceport. Several hours later, it passed in close proximity to the Kosmos-1375 satellite, which simulated the American navigation satellite Transit.
Despite the official prohibition of all tests of space interceptors on August 18, 1983, the Salyut design bureau was secretly creating a combat space station armed with laser and missile weapons called Skif.
In spring 2006, the concerned agencies of Russia and the Untied States started doing something real. In early March, Colonel General Vladimir Popovkin, Commander of the Russian Space Forces, toured strategic military facilities in California and Florida at the invitation of General James E. Cartwright, Commander of the United States Strategic Command.
A month later, General Cartwright visited the headquarters of the Russian Space Forces, the computer center of the space control system, the Space Mission Center, the Plesetsk spaceport and the Mozhaisky Aerospace Academy in St. Petersburg.
If the two countries continue acting in this spirit of openness and transparency, we should not fear, as there will be no alternative to peaceful space programs.