The Guardian 11 October, 2006

Australia’s role in arming the heavens

Gareth Smith

October 1-8, Keep Space for Peace Week, was an international protest to stop the militarisation of space. At the University of Queensland, the Department of Physics is being funded by the US Defence Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to do research on scramjet engines capable of achieving velocities of Mach 10, or about 11,000 kilometres an hour.

This is part of the Australian Hypersonics Initiative which involves the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales and the Defence Force Academy, Canberra.

The University of Queensland UQ News Online states that Sydney-London flights would only take two hours using scramjet propulsion but what is not stated are the military applications of this research.

DARPA is developing a hypersonic edge of space bomber (FALCON) which can take off from any airfield and carry over 25,000 kilograms of nuclear or conventional weapons anywhere in the world in a couple of hours.

The bombs would hit Earth targets at hypersonic velocity and be able to penetrate to great depth before exploding; just the thing, they say, for Afghanistan and Iraq.

The US ambition is to have "Full Spectrum Dominance" through which Earth will be controlled in the interests of the US. Military or commercial space competitors will be "denied" space access if they do not conform to US dictates.

President Bush in his January 2004 "Moon, Mars and Beyond" speech makes clear that US military and commercial dominance of space is an absolute national priority.

America’s civilian and military space programs are converging, with the extra funding which Bush proposed in order to reach Mars likely to accelerate this convergence.

NASA has already become an integral part of the US Airforce’s Space Command which has absorbed the bomber wing of the Strategic Air Command.

Former NASA director, Sean O’Keefe, said NASA was looking forward to providing agency resources for the "war on terror" and that from now on all space missions had to be considered "dual purpose" i.e. military and civilian.

This is exemplified by his comments that NASA and the US Department of Defense are collaborating in Project Prometheus (nuclear propulsion research).

If these Masters of Space, as they like to call themselves, have their way, nuclearised space will soon be commonplace. Orbiting Chernobyls, no doubt fuelled by Australian uranium, will supply the huge power requirements of space-based laser weapons.

The prospect of these exploding on lift-off like Challenger or exploding on the launch pad like Apollo 1, does not seem to deter these nuclear narcoleptics.

Australia is heavily involved in the militarisation of space even though this clashes with our ratification of the 1967 UN Treaty on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the 1979 Moon Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

The Howard Government has signed up to an enormous financial commitment (unspecified) to participate in the National Missile Defence (aka the Son of Star Wars) project which is actually an aggressive first strike system having very little to do with protecting civilians.

A recent opinion poll shows a majority of Australians feel Australia subordinates its foreign policy and strategic objectives to those of the US. They want Australia to focus on what is good for this country.

We are already mired in the Iraq debacle thanks to the Howard Government’s blind acceptance of badly flawed US intelligence and now we are complicit in arming the heavens.

The time is long past when we must demand an immediate halt to this collaboration in infamy.

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