Space Is Infinite, But Is There Room for Everyone?

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The newly public U.S. National Space Policy–the first revision in nearly ten years–is fairly badass. The money quote on U.S. space hegemony, from the State Department account:

According to the U.S. space policy, "The United States will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limited U.S. access to or use of space. Proposed arms control agreements or restrictions must not impair the rights of the United States to conduct research, development, testing and operations or other activities in space for U.S. national interests."

"The danger against which we all must be vigilant," [Robert Luaces, U.S. representative to the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security] said, "is not some theoretical arms race in space, but threats that would deny peaceful access to and use of space—especially ground-based space denial capabilities intended to impede the free access to and use of space systems and services."

In other words, space is ours, bitches.

Which isn't to say that there won't be lots of space-based fun for all. Said Luaces: "We also believe other nations have the right to be in space as well, and that those nations who have space systems, services and capabilities in space have the right of free passage; that is, their satellites should be able to go wherever they go unimpeded." The document should also give hope to commerical/private space nerds, with significant verbiage mandating coordinated government action to "enable a dynamic, globally competitive domestic commercial space sector in order to promote innovation, strengthen U.S. leadership, and protect national, homeland, and economic security." Here's the whole section on "commerical space guidelines" from the fact sheet on the unclassified document [PDF]:

It is in the interest of the United States to foster the use of U.S. commercial space capabilities around the globe and to enable a dynamic, domestic commercial space sector. To this end, departments and agencies shall:

* Use U.S. commercial space capabilities and services to the maximum practical extent; purchase commercial capabilities and services when they are available in the commercial marketplace and meet United States Government requirements; and modify commercially available capabilities and services to meet those United States Government requirements when the modification is cost effective;

* Develop systems when it is in the national interest and there is no suitable, cost effective U.S. commercial or, as appropriate, foreign commercial service or system that is or will be available when required;

* Continue to include and increase U.S. private sector participation in the design and development of United States Government space systems and infrastructures;

* Refrain from conducting activities that preclude, deter, or compete with U.S. commercial space activities, unless required by national security or public safety;

* Ensure that United States Government space activities, technology, and infrastructure are made available for private use on a reimbursable, non-interference basis to the maximum practical extent, consistent with national security; and

* Maintain a timely and responsive regulatory environment for licensing commercial space activities and pursue commercial space objectives without the use of direct Federal subsidies, consistent with the regulatory and other authorities of the Secretaries of Commerce and Transportation and the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

There's lots more, so read the whole thing to learn about why the U.S. doesn't recognized international law in space. (For starters, it's not called "interplanetary law," is it?)

NEXT: Gay Marriage, or Something Like It

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  1. I’m so ready for Bush & Co to just go away. Space would be a good place for them. Without suits, though.

  2. maybe we can send them on a space snipe hunt. Say around Jupiter.

  3. ?satellites should be able to go wherever they go unimpeded?

    Is this a dig at the Chinese for their test blinding of our surveillance satellites?

  4. I think the commercial stuff is the important piece of this policy. We have weapons in space right now. So do other nations. Pretending that we’ll act in some way other than human in space is not even up to naive. If some other country decides to build a “laser” to stop other countries from launching spacecraft, our “Death Star” will destroy the “laser”. Am I clear? I feel I’m using much too sophisticated space jargon for this forum.

    ?

  5. Remember Richard Nixon, the first Rhino.
    You know what that guy did? He gave up claiming rights to the moon. What a dick.
    The moon, by all rights and history, should be ours USA.
    Since the President doesn’t have that right to begin with, ninth and tenth amendments, the next person on the moon can claim it.
    Nice project.

  6. China and India both currently have more long range space plans than the US.
    Russia is basically the sole caretaker of the ISS right now.
    Japan has plans for hotels and research facilities in orbit.

    Yep, space war is a-comin’.

  7. Pro Libertate wrote, “We have weapons in space right now. So do other nations.”
    Specifics please. What weapons do we have in space? What other nations have weapons in space?
    What kind of weapons in space do they have?

    Why do write such nonsense Pro Libertate, you dip?

  8. Maw-wide!

    Terry, you’re nothing to me now. You’re not a commenter, you’re not a blogger. I don’t want to know you or what you do. I don’t want to see you on the threads, I don’t want you near my web site. When you see our mother, I want to know a day in advance, so I won’t be there. You understand?

    Incidentally, it’s well-established that the U.S. and Russia have launched hunter-killer satellites. Here’s a 1977 Time article on the topic.

  9. What kind of weapons in space do they have?

    We would tell you, Terry, but then we’d have to kill you. And it would be so easy. We can see you right now, from space, typing away in your office. You have a little bit of something in your teeth, BTW.

  10. Yep, space war is a-comin’.

    Shit, and I’m out of quarters.

  11. Terry – Lay off PL. The reality is that, while there might not be a Dr. Evil-style space laser in space, space has been used for military purposes for a long time.

    Here’s a good article on the subject
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7896613/

    I highly recommend the informative “Combat in the Cosmos” Interactive slide show.

  12. Bee – I had corn on the cob at lunch do I still have a bit caught in my teeth? I figure if you can see Terry you could help me out while you’re at it…

    heh!

  13. Nope, can’t see you, rob. You must be wearing that awesome new Invisibility Cloak.

  14. What’s the normal procedure for banning someone on this site? Do you get a yellow flag, first warning, do the highest ranking bloggers vote on it?

    Terry, Pro Libertate is one of the good guys around here and has lots of friends. You don’t. It’s wearing thin.

  15. What’s the normal procedure for banning someone on this site?

    No reason needed. They just ban at will and then deny that that is SOP.

  16. Its the Libertarian philosophy website so you can’t ban me.

    Pro Libertate wrote “nations” plural. He didn’t mention any.
    And plural usually means more than two. If two nations have space weapons, then it’s “a couple of nations” or “two nations have space…”, you get the picture.
    Soviet Union, excuse me, Russia still have them? Are they still up there? And how accurate are they if they are? Where is the proof?

    Buckshot your act is wearing thin. This is a blog to discuss things using FACTS, not fantasies.
    Now, grow up or get out.

  17. Terry:

    I made my bones when you were still banging cheerleaders.

    Oh, wait a minute, QUEERS don’t bang cheerleaders. My bad.

  18. Its the Libertarian philosophy website so you can’t ban me.

    What does libertarianism have to do with banning people from privately run fora? Freedom doesn’t mean you’re free to post on someone else’s proprietary website. On the other hand, it does mean that the owners of this website are free to set rules for commenters.

  19. Any and all gay people out there, my apologies, I certainly don’t mean to offend you or anyone else except Terry. I have a rule, “Never insult anyone”, but this guy insults people all the time for no reason and I’m pissed off about it. Most of the time when I break that rule I regret it, as I do now, but not for Terry’s sake.

    I’m going to follow Pro Libertate’s lead and pretend the little non-entity doesn’t exist.

  20. Bee – How do you know about the Invisibility Cloak? If you’re cleared for that information AND to use the Magic Spy Satellite, then WOW! You must have a security clearance that makes mine look like an expired bus pass!

    Buckshot – Dude. If you had called him “nancy” that would have been a full-on joe moment of unself-conscious political incorrectness.

    The difference is that yours was actually funny. Wrong, but FUNNY.

    Terry – Stop being a goof. Of course this is a blog for people to discuss fantasies. I mean, have you SEEN some of the posts here? Talk about out of touch with reality – like this one guy who posted on this thread at 05:58 PM and 07:35 PM.

  21. Thanks for the space-based defense all 🙂

    I’m always happy when I can use Michael Corelone quotes in real life.

  22. Okay, where are facts that answer my questions?
    No where? Why? Because I am right.

    No, I am not rude, stupid, ignorant people are.
    People who write things like, “many nations have space weapons….”
    Twits.

  23. I think it’s called “Space Law” no? And hey, that invisibility cloak isn’t such a crazy, far off idea.

  24. They just ban at will and then deny that that is SOP.

    tell me about it. piece of advice, never catch whoever’s the webmaster in a lie; that got me banned.

    anyway, the ‘unimpeded’ stuff is interesting. as the density of objects in orbit increases, how do we define ‘unimpeded?’ and who defines it? do we punch through ‘interference’ with some cheap bricks before sending the real satellite through? could we effectively blockade a launch site by clustering a lot of satellites in likely paths? (yes, i know if will take fuel expenditure to keep those satellites at any but a synchronous orbit)

  25. ICBM’s go into space, no? Space has been used for military purposes for years. Practically speaking, how big of a distinction is it that a missile takes a minute to get to outer space while a satellite could theoretically launch a warhead from space? Terry, you’re being a hyper-technical prick. That’s my job around here. Now, where are these cheerleaders you been braggin’ about?

  26. Lamar
    Pro Libertate posted, “We have weapons in space right now. So do other nations.”
    Get that!? Right now in space, not, NOT on a launching pad.
    Words mean something, NOT what you want them to mean.
    Fascinating. Albert Knock wrote that most people don’t know how to read.
    Here, on supposedly, one of the high IQ websites, most people can’t. Want more proof,
    This,
    “Practically speaking, how big of a distinction is it that a missile takes a minute to get to outer space while a satellite could theoretically launch a warhead from space?”
    A big fucking difference you stupid prick.

  27. Thanks, Terry. While you said that I can’t read, what you meant to say was that my distinction isn’t valid. If my point is that there isn’t a big distinction between militarization of space and satellite zappers, I clearly understood what Pro Libertate was saying and what you were saying.

    Now, please answer me this, Terry. If there aren’t weapons in space, how do you know if there is a big distinction between an ICBM on a launch pad and a warhead in space? You demand rigorous proof from Pro Libertate, yet you make assertions that, by the substance of your own argument, cannot possibly have a foundation. Fascinating!

  28. Buckshot: I dont know what sorta high school you dropped outta, but at mine, no cheerleader would bang Terry. What sort of hellish inbred ville you grow up in?

  29. Ceterum censeo Josiahinem esse delendam.

  30. Fascinating. Albert Knock wrote that most people don’t know how to read.

    Is he related to Albert Jay Nock? Or are they just homonyms?

  31. The moon, by all rights and history, should be ours USA.

    I think I speak for everyone else here when I say I think you’d make the perfect first resident governor there, Terry. We’d even help you pack.

  32. RETURN TO NORMAL H&R FOR A MOMENT…

    Is this a dig at the Chinese for their test blinding of our surveillance satellites?

    my thoughts were along the same lines.

    I was thinking that we so increasingly rely on our communications technology, GPS and the like, surveillance capability – imagery and communications/commercial data sniping – for our various ongoing military and political ‘conflicts’… and also that there have been some recent realizations that real countermeasures could be developed at some point that could threaten this ‘space supremecy’… that they did some forecasting and realized that there wasnt any clear stated policy in place to clarify our forward-looking assumptions about ‘rules of the road’ for our space-based shit.

    i.e. if someone engages in ‘space-sabotage’ or tries to neutralize our capability – even just objecting to our peering into their backyards – that we’d be able to have a basis to try and pre-empt or retaliate under some loose legal claims.

    feel free to discuss, or continue with poking the local retard with a stick.

    BACK TO BITCHFEST H&R…

    JG

    p.s.

    Okay, where are facts that answer my questions?
    No where? Why? Because I am right.

    RALMFAO

    Terry, I will pay you $50 to record a sample of your voice saying this, in the same tone you intended here, and post on internet. Swear to god. Paypal. Escrow. Money order. whatever you like. Just recapture that *feeling* for me.

  33. No reason needed. They just ban at will and then deny that that is SOP.

    Wow! What a great policy! I’m going to have to suggest we do that over at our little blogfest!

  34. Incidentally, it’s well-established that the U.S. and Russia have launched hunter-killer satellites

    More advanced nations would have launched hunter-gatherer satellites.

    P.S. — P.L., the Godfather quote was priceless.

  35. Ahem,

    Apparently Soyuz capsule comes armed with a “survival gun,” at least according to James Oberg who is in my experience quite knowledgeable about Space minutiae. and I read somehwere that the CO of the ISS has a handgun in his safe. So when an american is in command of the ISS, the U.S. has weapons in space (the CO;s handgun, and the Russians have wapons in space (the Soyuz survival gun). 🙂

    Both the U.S. and Russia have tested anti-satellite weapons in the 1970’s m- 1980’s. The Russian program was pretty sophisticated, but is out of funds, and the U.S. program was, I believe mothballed in th elate 1980’s.

    However, the U.S. govt is planning to deploy defensive weapons to protect satellites, including counter-missile weapons. See http://www.cdi.org/pdfs/space-weapons.pdf. The time-frame appears to be at least 10 years away.

    Space is the open flank of the U.S. military. If one destroys or disables the GPS system, the effectiveness of U.S. aerial bombardment will take a nosedive. Similarly the loss of comsats would disrupt disparate American units’ ability to support each other in combat. Cetrainly the Chinese government is aware of that and is working on means of denying U.S. use of space based platforms if not destroying them outright.

    To date, the U.S. has not fought another space faring nation. However, it is pretty much inevitable that some day the U.S. will get into a shooting war with China, Russia, India, and we will see some of the fighting take place above the Earth’s atmosphere.

  36. I’m going nitey night, so I’ll just be brief:

    Terry, Pro-L, Buckshot et al

    Depends on what a brother means when he says ‘weapons in space’. Correct me if I’m wrong, but ICBM’s which aren’t thought of as ‘space weapons’ must leave the atmosphere and enter… space… even if for a brief time. Would that suffice in this tit-for-tat?

  37. In other words, space is ours, bitches.

    I can see why Joe doesn’t like Mangu-Ward…she has a sense of humor.

    By the way this is not a “Bush claims space” issue…the Clinton administration was moving in this direction as well.

    Also I think this is a pro-libertarian issue as well…I have more trust in the US gov opening up space for individual exploitation then I do some international panel.

  38. Actually, outer space already belongs to someone.

    I don’t think we should have any trouble kicking *his* ass, though.

  39. Pro Libertate wrote “nations” plural. He didn’t mention any. And plural usually means more than two.

    No, Terry, plural always–not usually, always–means more than one.

  40. “In other words, space is ours, bitches.”

    This is accurate. Space is “ours”, as in open territory with free right of passage for all, the US, China, Russia, Luxembourg, even people from Washington DC.

    This is very analogous to the right of free passage in the open ocean. As long as you stay out of the coastal waters of soverign nations (twelve mile limit) you can drive your boat where you please. As long as you stay out of the airspace of a sovereign country (the atmosphere) you can drive your death star where you please.

    I don’t see understand the objection to this proposal. Mangu-Ward just sounds like a typical whiny, hyphenated bitch that has all the answers.

  41. Oh, wait a minute, QUEERS don’t bang cheerleaders. My bad.

    Comment by: Buckshot at October 25, 2006 07:49 PM

    come on, buckshot. let’s not be insulting queers here; H&R has some… namely me.

  42. “Depends on what a brother means when he says ‘weapons in space’. Correct me if I’m wrong, but ICBM’s which aren’t thought of as ‘space weapons’ must leave the atmosphere and enter… space… even if for a brief time. Would that suffice in this tit-for-tat?” – Paul

    Actually, the Air Force classes them together: “Space & Missiles.” But hey, how serious is a discussion where we’re left to quibble over whether outer space has been weaponized by drawing distinctions about whether ICBM’s are space weapons or not?

    I mean, does it really matter whether an ICBM that descends on your home town from space is actually launched from space or just crosses through space to obliterate you and yours?

  43. I don’t see understand the objection to this proposal. Mangu-Ward just sounds like a typical whiny, hyphenated bitch that has all the answers.

    Hey, I’ve been critical of her in the past, but that seems uncalled for.

    All this thread needs now is Horst Graben and F Le Mur.

  44. that got me banned.

    The only problem is that they let that comment through (I did NOT expect it to show up). Which means that my previous post negates itself. Anyway, as my behavior continues to improve over time, banning may not be such an issue for me.

  45. Wayne,
    Don’t you think the Bush doctrine of preemptive war diminishes your comments? It’s like free passage on the open sea, except that the US reserves the right violate international law when it sees fit. Another problem with your post is that it does not recognize that the US reserves the right to put weapons in space while denying that right to other countries. Right or wrong, that seems to say, space is ours, bitch. I also should point out the brilliance in whining about how hypenated name people are whiners.

  46. Stephen Crane:
    Sorry about that, bad judgment.

  47. Lamar,

    The “Bush doctrine” in no way diminihes my comments. This proposal is simply an extension of the very well accepted (and reasonable) doctrine of open seas.

    When did the US reserve the right to violate international law?

    Where does it say the US denies the right of others putting weapons in space?

    I was not whining, I was simply pointing out that the Mangu-Ward piece sounds like the typical, elitist “America is the great Satan” drivel. Lamar, it kind of sounds like your stuff.

    Thoreau, what is uncalled for, pointing out that there is an association between hyphenated names and sloppy elitist thinking?

  48. They just ban at will and then deny that that is SOP.

    First part right, second part wrong. As I have said many times, we can kick anybody out for any reason or for no reason. There’s never been any pretense of a consistent policy because there is no consistent policy. Beyond obvious offenses like threatening violence or calling a reason staffer a bitch, there are no set rules beyond trying to keep the threads from getting too stupid. Radley may take a different approach. I don’t know if/when/why you were banned, but I will point out that you’re not doing yourself any favors by using the name “Dave W.” when we already have a Dave W. on the staff.

    Though I’d back Pro Libertate if it came down to a full-contact brawl, I am agnostic on the Terry issue, and in fact didn’t even know there was a Terry issue prior to looking at this thread.

  49. OK, I apologize for the “bitch” part. I guess I should have said “whiny, hyphenated know it all.

    My apologies to Mangu and Ward.

  50. I would like to point out that I was simply borrowing a word from Ms Ward’s vocabulary and original post on the whole topic.

  51. Look Tim, don’t be disingenuous:

    1. I was here long before Weigs.

    2. I was chastized, at least by other posters, when I did not use the name, Dave W.

    3. Nick Gillespie has indeed said that bannings are rare, and implied that some intelligence was used in the discretion on those situations. That had not held true in my case, which was the point of my somewhat colloquial post above. Obviously the post was wrong in the sense that I am here now. And, of course, I had the humility to point out my error before you got a chance to attend to it.

    4. My last post before being banned was on a VIOXX thd, started by you, where you linked a bunch of old, related articles. Sadly, you forgot the one where you had previously called the jurors “knuckleheads” (or somesuch) for thinking there was a problem with VIOXX. So, in the comments, I added my link to your list. I did not comment on the link, but just linked it using value neutral language. The link was embarrassing for you, perhaps, but also highly relevant, especially as you were the one that wrote the previous article that had somehow slipped your mind when you revisited VIOXX later. When I was banned after that, it was tuff to escape the feeling that you, Tim Cavanaugh, personally was the person who got me banned, and that you had done that for petty reasons. It sounds like you are saying it wasn’t you and I appreciate that.

    5. What would have been really helpful is a brief email warning telling me to stop doing whatever it was I was doing. Still don’t know, to this day. I am obviously as capable of writing posts as worthy as anyone else’s here. If there is a noted behavior problem, I can fix it, but this practice of banning without warning or explanation does not seem fair in the context of a long time poster, like me, who had put a lot of thought into a lot of posts.

  52. PS: My “last” thread, discussed above, is here:

    https://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2006/06/18_months_missi.shtml

  53. And, of course, I had the humility to point out my error before you got a chance to attend to it.

    Of course!

  54. Though I’d back Pro Libertate if it came down to a full-contact brawl. . . .

    Hey, thanks, Tim. I’m getting misty-eyed with all of the kind words around here. Well, except from Fredo. I knew it was him. He broke my heart.

  55. In light of the discussion above, I will make any further posts above here as Sam Franklin because that was the name of the butcher on The Brady Bunch.

    To celebrate, here is a funny BB detournement (sp?) feat. Sam Franklin acting quite confused about Alice the Maid’s orientation:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdjQPRE5hXc

  56. Reason should have it’s next conference in space.

  57. Say, I’d attend a Reason conference in space. Or in Florida (hint, hint).

    I did attend a Cato conference in San Jose once that had a bunch of Reasonoids in attendance (I met Virginia and a few other people that have since moved on)–that was great fun. Would’ve been better on the Moon, though 🙂

  58. The squirrels have amnesia. They keep telling me I am a new poster and my posts are being held for review.

    I cannot deny that my posts may be deserving of review, but certainly not on the basis of me being a newbie. I’ve been posting her for at least two years and have even given Gillespie several blog subjects. He’s even saw fit to use two of them.

    Please, someone bonk the squirrels in the head with a hand full of nuts and bring back their memories.

  59. The squirrels have amnesia. They keep telling me I am a new poster and my posts are being held for review.

    I cannot deny that my posts may be deserving of review, but certainly not on the basis of me being a newbie. I’ve been posting her for at least two years and have given Gillespie several blog subjects. He’s even saw fit to use two of them.

    Please, someone bonk the squirrels in the head with a hand full of nuts and bring back their memories.

  60. To close, let me say this:

    Nations.

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