Friday, February 22, 2008

Deep Space Force! (update)

The successful intercept of the failed USA-193 by a modified Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is fueling speculation about a new race to militarize space, with both China and Russia expressing concerns. If you remember, China demonstrated their ASAT capabilties last month. (However, they weren't considerate enough to kill one that was about to burn up anyway, thus ensuring the debris is gone within about a month.)

I wonder what the response today would be to a fleet of nuclear powered and armed starships stationed beyond the Moon? In a second article on Project Orion appearing in Make, Volume 13, George Dyson reports that, after the civilian Project Orion was canceled, the military was brainstorming just that. And more.

I find it fascinating that a military 'think-tank' (for lack of a better term) was actually envisioning such things back in the 1950's - nuclear powered spacecraft and full-time manned space stations.
Arthur C. Clarke's 3rd law of prediction says,
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." From that, I came up with the Dungeon's corollary: "Any sufficiently advanced technological prediction is indistinguishable from science fiction."

The concept for a Deep Space Force wasn't merely that the wanted more destructive capability. They asked and began to answer the following question:
Was it crazy to imagine stationing nuclear weapons 250,000 miles deep in space? Or is it crazier to keep them within minutes of their targets here on Earth?
More security, more backups, and no reason to rush a strike knowing your capability to respond may be gone in a matter of minutes. Not to mention the deterrent factor. They even addressed the benefit of being able to defend Earth from interplanetary debris. Now there's a concept that is as good now as it was then. No matter what you say, Freeman Dyson and his compadres were smart guys.

Another excellent article from Make!

Update: Here is some Deep Space Force artwork from rhysy.net.