From the Gray Lady: The U.S. Air Force wants explicit permission from Bush to deploy space-based weapons.
The U.S. has already withdrawn from the ABM Treaty, so no law currently prevents the military from launching space-based weapons. A more specific, and presumably permissive, presidential directive is expected "within weeks."
Bad Idea. More under the break.
While a true breakthrough in military technology would be of incalculable strategic value, I think this initiative is misguided. Proceeding with space-based weapons will be diplomatic suicide. Other countries will not tolerate the U.S. gaining such dominance. Their retaliation and competition will ultimately be counter-productive and threaten American security. The cost of the new system will be truly astronomical and could possibly be easily neutralized. One rocketful of gravel in the right orbit could destroy trillions of dollars worth of R&D. Finally, however well the system is designed and implemented, it could be ineffective in deterring the assymetric threats that are the primary concern of our security agencies today.
I think the space program is valuable and investigating the unknown is a part of human nature. The Space Shuttle is scheduled to return to space in July. Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev aboard the ISS will soon set a new record for total time in space with 747 days. The Voyager probes have been going for over 10,000 days, have left the solar sytem far behind, and are still sending back data. Our ventures into space should be based on cooperation and should recognize that all of humanity shares a common heritage and a common future.
Unfortunately, this quote might be the future:
"Simply put, it's the American way of fighting." -Gen. Lance Lord
In April, the Air Force launched the XSS-11, an experimental microsatellite with the technical ability to disrupt other nations' military reconnaissance and communications satellites.
Another Air Force space program, nicknamed Rods From God, aims to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium from the edge of space to destroy targets on the ground, striking at speeds of about 7,200 miles an hour with the force of a small nuclear weapon.
A third program would bounce laser beams off mirrors hung from space satellites or huge high-altitude blimps, redirecting the lethal rays down to targets around the world. A fourth seeks to turn radio waves into weapons whose powers could range "from tap on the shoulder to toast," in the words of an Air Force plan.
"Space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny," he told an Air Force conference in September. "Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future."