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Space and Security

Instant Event Idea

Arming the Heavens

"Space has long been viewed as a sanctuary from the man-made chaos on earth. Since the dawn of the space age, there has been an unspoken agreement among the global space powers to refrain from placing weapons in orbit. But many view the weaponization of space as inevitable. In the last decade, both commercial and military uses of space have expanded dramatically, and present virtually limitless opportunities for promising new applications. To protect these assets, the U.S. military aspires to "space domination" through the use of "robust negation systems" such as space-based strike weapons and anti-satellite weapons. The Bush administration is actively pursuing a variety of such systems, while Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has warned of "a space Pearl Harbor." A top Air Force general predicted, "We're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space." Though virtually off the radar in Congress, plans for space war have become part of the daily routine for the U.S. military. As the nation most dependent on satellites, the United States may also be the one with the most to lose if space were to become a battleground." (link to online movie summary)

Suggested Ethical Questions for Discussion:

1. Is the weaponization of space inevitable? Why or why not?

2. How should other nations cope with US defensive and offensive endeavors to control space?

3. How should a country react if another country's micro satellite is attaching to its satellite and jamming it? Should the situation be resolved militarily, by destroying that enemy's satellite? Or should diplomatic efforts be pursued?

4. How should we deal with vulnerability of space assets to space debris that can demolish assets that are valuable to all nations, such as the International Space Station?

5. How should nations handle the balance between advances in space-based commerce and military technologies?

6. What routes can the international community pursue to ensure every country's national security with regard to outer space?