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Two leading experts on the space program are warning that the expected space policy announcement by George W. Bush to establish permanent bases on the moon and an aggressive program to take humans to Mars will be an expensive and dangerous undertaking.
Dr. Michio Kaku (Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Graduate Center, CUNY) and Bruce Gagnon (Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space) both have years of experience monitoring and writing about the space program and working to stop the use of nuclear power in space.
An integral part of the Bush announcement is expected to be the nuclear rocket – what is now known as “Project Prometheus,” named after the God of Fire. The nuclear rocket would cut in half the amount of time it would take to get to Mars, and would have military applications as well.
According to Dr. Kaku, “Perhaps one of the greatest risks facing this ambitious program is the use of dangerous, unproven technologies which could backfire, eroding public confidence in the space program. One such dangerous technology is the nuclear rocket, which is now seriously being reconsidered after being rightly rejected for the past several decades. The nuclear booster rocket has gone through many stages of development in the past, and all of them have been cancelled with good cause.”
Said Bruce Gagnon, “There is legitimate reason to question the plan for the establishment of bases on the moon. The military has long eyed the moon as a potential base of operations as warfare is moved into the heavens. The moon is also the site of rare helium-3 which many view as the replacement for fossil fuels as supplies dwindle on Earth. Now is the time for a thoughtful and thorough debate about the expected Bush space proposals.”
In a New York Times op-ed piece called A New Pathway to the Stars, space writer Timothy Ferris wrote on December 21, 2003 that “Another possible energy source of the future – nuclear fusion reactors burning clean, safe helium 3 – has its own lunar connection. Helium 3, rare on Earth, is abundant on the moon. When fusion reactors start coming on line, lunar entrepreneurs may stand to make the kind of money their predecessors raked in during the gold rush and the oil boom.”
The U.S. never signed the 1979 Moon Treaty that was created at the United Nations to prevent a rush of land claims and military bases on the planetary body. In fact, in a 1959 U.S. Army study entitled The Establishment of a Lunar Outpost the once secret plan stated that “The lunar outpost is required to develop and protect potential U.S. interests on the moon; to develop techniques in moon-based surveillance of the earth and space…to serve as a base for exploration of the moon, for further exploration into space and for military operations on the moon if required.”
The moon base theme reemerged in a 1989 study written for the U.S. Congress by John Collins. The study, published in book form, was called Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years and the forward to the book was signed by political leaders at the time including Sen. John Glenn (D-OH) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) .
Congressional staffer Collins reported that the U.S. would need to have military bases on the moon in order to control the pathway between the Earth and moon. Collins went on to conclude that with U.S. bases on the moon, “Armed forces might lie in wait at that location to hijack rival shipments on return.” Obviously the author was envisioning the day when aerospace corporations would be hard at work “mining the sky” for profit.
Said Bruce Gagnon, “Just as the Spanish Armada and British Navy were created to protect the “interests and investments” in the new world, space is viewed today as open territory to be seized for eventual corporate profit. The United Nations created the Moon Treaty and the Outer Space Treaty as ways to circumvent the warlike tendencies of humankind as we step out into the cosmos. These treaties hoped to ensure that conflict over ‘national appropriation’ of the planetary bodies could be avoided.”
The Bush administration appears to be heading in the opposite direction. The Bush space plan will be enormously expensive, dangerous, and will create unnecessary conflict as they expand nuclear power and weapons into space – all disguised as the noble effort to hunt for the “origins of life.”
CONTACT: Bruce Gagnon (209) 729-0517 or (207) 319-2017 (cell)
Dr. Michio Kaku (212) 650-8448
The Global Network, founded in 1992 to stop the nuclearization and weaponization of space, has over 170 affiliate groups all over the world. The website of the organization is http://www.space4peace.org
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space PO Box 652 Brunswick, ME 04011 (207) 729-0517 (207) 319-2017 (Cell phone) http://www.space4peace.org
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