By Nathan Barton
Some more people are waking up to the potential of space, for commerce and war if not for liberty.
As reported by Space.com, Elon Musk announced that SpaceX plans to fly two people around Luna by the end of 2018, a private, commercial, tourist trip that will have as little as possible to do with government.
It is probably not that much more government involvement than a private road trip in your crossover from New York to LA would involve. That SUV or any vehicle, had to meet thousands and thousands of government regulations to be designed, built, and sold. You have to have registration and license plates and probably emissions and safety tests. You will be driving on government-built and -funded, and government-controlled, highways. You have to have permission from a government to drive the vehicle. I suspect that Falcon Heavy and Dragon spacecraft won’t have many more regs controlling it for that 600,000 mile trip than you might for the 6,000-mile cross-country excursion.
That is neat.
But the trip won’t happen if a certain Democrat congressional candidate in Massachusetts gets her way. According to The Federalist, Ms. Wu is worried that a private company orbiting Luna would threaten satellites for weather and GPS in earth orbit, and drop rocks on earth that would result in explosions equal to hundreds of nuclear weapons.
As the Federalist points out, Wu (conveniently?) forgets that the Moon has its own gravity, and that rocks from its surface must be launched against its 1/6-G gravity well, before falling to play hawk among the sparrows in low-earth orbit or smash down on Boston and wipe out the Eastern Seaboard. (We could only hope.) Even in lunar orbit, it takes a fair amount of energy to throw something back to earth orbit. No one is going to pitch a baseball from the hatch of their scenic lunar cruiser hard enough to reach a communications satellite in Clarke orbit, much less drop a rock through a hundred miles of atmosphere to smash into the Capitol.
But too many people commenting on this woman’s response to SpaceX do not remember that she is FAR from the first person to point out that Luna is the high ground for combat and other operations both on Terra herself and in both low and high earth orbit. The most famous person to do this is probably Robert A Heinlein, who had his Loonies “throw rocks” at the terrorists down on Terra who ruled and occupied them. But I believe that Lester del Rey and other science fiction writers have pointed that out. Of course, most of them had a full understanding of physics and orbital mechanics and understood it isn’t quite as simple as Wu thinks it is (or claims to think it is).
Nevertheless, her fear of tourists in space is understandable, and has real roots.
If Ms. Wu were able to reason and think clearly, and have ANY basic understanding of geography, astronomy, physics, and space science – about what I would expect of a High School graduate who is NOT a fan of space travel (and a ten-year-old who IS) – she’d know that Space is indeed the high ground, but that it is NOT the Lunar surface that is the critical location now – nor indeed the orbits around Luna.
It is low-Earth orbit (LEO) and up to Clarke orbit (geosynchronous orbit) that is the key high ground in the 21st Century.
And it is not a couple of wealthy tourists and their contract commercial pilot that she (and anyone else) need to worry about, as far as doing damage from orbit to things and people on the ground. Among other things, no commercial enterprise yet has the throw weight capability to get something really serious up in orbit – nothing much more than a couple of smart pebbles or rods – which are suitable for taking out a tank farm or a panzer (if your guidance technology is up to it), but not going to compete with a single nuclear warhead, much less hundreds.
No, for now, the high ground in space and the threats are the same we’ve had to worry with since sometime in the 1960s. Earth orbit is the terrain. And the real, current threat is one or more nation states or some group inside one.
If I were a Democratic (or Republican) politician in DC, I’d be a whole lot more worried about India, Pakistan or maybe Persia (Iran) than SpaceX. Frankly, I think that even a rogue NASA or RusSpace astronaut/cosmonaut or programmer is a more serious risk than a couple of tourists oohing and ahhing and talking to People magazine and the Today show from lunar orbit.
For the time WILL come when the space around Earth and Luna WILL be the battleground. Certainly if the statists, the governments and their ambitious parasites get their way. Even if the active combat in space is not nation-versus-nation, it is still very likely. And that is probably what Ms. Wu dimly sees; having people in space who are NOT there representing some nation or government, but just themselves, is a threat to the very existence of government and nation-states. Even if those nation-states (or their agents, like the United Nations or NATO) claim and are present in space.
Having even a few free (or relatively free) people in space is a threat to government even greater than the threat the relatively unpopulated temperate regions of the New World were. And it will be, again; governments who bring war to space, to try and control those relatively free people.
Mama’s Note: Space… the final frontier. To boldly go … Makes me a little weepy to even think of this. If even just America had been a truly free country, people would already be living in colonies across the solar system. And some would be traveling to other systems in our galaxy.
I’m much too old and infirm to join such a project, and not wealthy enough by any means, but I wish I could join those “tourists” in such a journey. But others will. The human tribe can’t allow the politicians, bureaucrats and idiots like Wu to stop them. I don’t know if there is a “Borg” entity out there, but we know perfectly well there is one in every non-voluntary government on the globe.
Are you ready to board a space ship for Mars? Or are you content to be “assimilated” by the hive minds here on earth.