space

A computer illustration of the Milky Way galaxy. (Dreamstime)

'Space Force' In 2020? 'Best Of Luck' Says Cranbrook Scientist

"It's a bit more difficult than what an idle speech would indicate."

August 09, 2018 - 6:17 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) - Vice President Mike Pence took to the airwaves to announce plans for a proposed new "space force" to ensure "American dominance in the final frontier."

According to Pence, the Space Force would be in place by 2020 and oversee warfighting in space.  

The creation of the Space Force, essentially a new military branch, would require congressional approval. But already has the support of President Donald Trump. 

Cranbrook Astronomer Mike Narlock questions how the US would even launch a force into space since it retired the space shuttle.

"If we are talking about building bases in space and putting trained military personnel in space, well, how are we going to get them up there? We retired the space shuttle and we really don't have something to replace it, in fact, I believe to get our own astronauts to the International Space Station we rely on Russian spacecraft to do that. So, I'll let you connect the dots from there about how troubling that would be if we start using other nations' vehicles to get our own people into orbit," says Narlock.

And how to pay for it all...?

"The privatization of some of this is a good thing because for-profit companies have a bit more of a drive and maybe they are more budget conscious but a nation or a consortium of nations can bring to bear unto a problem resources that a company -  even a billionaire like Elon Musk just couldn't."

Nations would not need to have nuclear weapons launched from space to do widespread damage:

"The thing about launching stuff from space is that you could fire big, heavy, massive objects from space that don't even have a warhead on them and when they hit, they'd hit with such force that would act like a nuclear weapon.

"The idea of militarizing space is a bit troublesome because it's a bit of a Pandora's Box," says Narlock. "If we start putting missile systems into orbit then other people are going to put missile systems in orbit and it's going to be the cold war again, but in space. With probably, potentially worse consequences."

Concerns?

"It's always wonderful when space is at the forefront of thought and we are talking about sending people back into space  but when you add the military component to it and  weaponry and so forth - that gets a little more troubling but like a lot of things these are plans that are more in the wind than they are on paper. I am sure when push comes to shove and budgets are drawn up and putting the probability of those things actually happening becomes more concrete there will be the stark gaze of reality will be upon us all and we'll realize that this is a bit more difficult than what an idle speech would indicate."

Narlock says a consortium would be the best way forward because a space war could be very deadly.

Pence has said the Space Force will be in place by 2020. 

"I can't imagine. I can not even begin to fathom that such a development would happen in less two years. It took us .. about a decade, less than a decade to go to the moon back in the sixties. But that was a national effort where sacrifices were made to do that - hundreds of thousands of people worked on that - I can't imagine that that happens now and I can't imagine that it happens without the agreement of at least two branches of government. ... At least in its fully intended vision -- 2020 seems awfully, awfully close."