Radically Inept
Monday, August 02, 2004
  Want to go into space? Learn to kill people.

I confess. I'm on a fairly huge number of mailing lists, including several congressional and senate committee lists. I have become somewhat of an information junkie, and I like to watch what our government wants to do with the information. Well, it turns out the best thing for the future financing of our space program, is the ability to use it to kill people. I touched on this before in Science Monday, "Wonderful. When we get to Mars, DoD can destroy it.". And as I mentioned in that post one of the papers I did in the masters program was to look at how much military spending drives research and tech advances. As it turns out, improving the ability to kill people is probably the single best source for driving technological advances. In the US, the history goes back to our original efforts at improving canons and developing standardized rifles with interchangeable parts. Those efforts, from memory, took 30 to forty years and came to fruition somewhere in the 1830s.

I haven't done the specific research, but war also is the source of, I'll go out on limb here, most medical advances, especially in the fields of surgery, mental health and hygiene.

Anyway, from the Statement of Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Terry Everett, entitled "The Development of a Space Cadre":
The development of a Space Cadre was a major thrust in the findings of the Space Commission's 2001 report. The report emphasized the need to create and maintain a highly trained and experienced cadre of space professionals who could master highly complex technology, as well as develop new tactics and doctrines for space operations in the future. Slowly, the development of a space cadre has evolved.

In an effort to encourage the process, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 directed the Department to develop a strategic plan to coordinate and facilitate the development of space personnel career fields and integrate them into the larger personnel systems of each service. It also directed each service to develop and take a more proactive stance in the development of its individual space cadre.

The committee is concerned about the breadth and depth of the current Department of Defense plan. It seems to lack sufficient detail and structure for implementation.

Additionally, in the area of education and training as well as in addressing the role of academia and industry in the space cadre, the committee has concerns. The committee believes the accumulation of skills and the competencies of government, academia and industry represent a comprehensive view of the military space community for the United States. Each has valuable tools and expertise to contribute, and we all look forward to hearing the witnessesÂ’ suggestions on how this talent and culture can best be cultivated and incorporated into the development of a space cadre in the military and of space professionals at large.
WASHINGTON - Congressman Terry Everett, Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces warned Friday that continued cost overruns associated with the military's Airborne Laser (ABL) Program may place the program in jeopardy. Everett returned Thursday from a personal inspection of two key missile defense programs including the ABL. Funding for both programs are pending the House/Senate conference of the FY05 Defense Authorization Act.
"I now have a better appreciation for the complexities of the ABL system, and what it is these people are trying to accomplish," Everett said upon returning from his trip. "However, I'm deeply concerned that program costs may spiral to unanticipated levels which will place ABL in serious danger of survival."
Everett inspected the Airborne Laser (ABL) Program at Edwards AFB, CA, where the contractor team headed by Boeing is assembling the chemical laser system into a highly-modified 747 aircraft to prove the technology. The ABL is a critical component of the layered missile defense system, designed to defeat a ballistic missile attack in the boost phase of the launch. Everett came away impressed with the challenging science and engineering tasks that must be accomplished to perform the mission, and the complexities of the laser itself. However, he remains concerned about the increasing costs and program delays, and will continue to closely monitor the management of the program by the Air Force and Boeing.
I guess my question here is, you say, 'The ABL is a critical component of the layered missile defense system', but what is it's offensive capability? How do I know it will just be used for defense? And if it can be used offensively, I can assure you it will be used offensively.

Than comes this section:
On the Space front, satellite programs, including Space Based Radar (SBR), SIBRS-High and STSS, as well as launch capabilities for these satellites are also of keen interest to Everett. At Vandenberg AFB, a Delta IV rocket was viewed in a near-launch state, preparing for a special payload launch in early 2005. The Delta IV rocket is manufactured by Boeing in Decatur, AL, and shipped via barge to the West Coast.

Congress has been divided on the need for the Spaced Based Radar program, with the interested congressional defense and intelligence committees differing in their views of the future capabilities of the system. Everett met with AF program officials and the contractor, Northrop Grumman, to receive the latest programmatic information on the system. Everett believes the truly unique capabilities that SBR will provide for the warfighter are necessary, but cautioned the program officials that Congress will not tolerate new satellite programs that continue to exceed cost estimates, with constant schedule slippages.
"Spaced Base Radar will provide a truly transformational capability to our warfighters, and we must incorporate lessons learned so we don't repeat the same acquisition mistakes that we experienced in SBRS-high and Future Imagery Architecture programs, that have led to billions of dollars in cost overruns," Everett added.
Sort of sad that human development and expansion into space will be driven by war. I mean, I have no reason to expect anything more out of mankind. And this is why I don't believe that man will ever get to some sort of 'utopian' society. It won't happen. For good or ill, but certainly to evolutionary advantage, man has an innate drive to compete. And apparently, the more deadly the competition, the more man pursues it.

I've been reading a lot on material on various ideas of achieving utopia, but they all seem to ignore competition, or say that competition won't be necessary once we achieve [your choice of imaginary ability here]...But you will not, short of a totalitarian government in line with Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", where people are genetically modified and doped up, get rid of man's drive to compete. At the very least, man will always compete for mates, and that competition, and the jealousy that arises, will ensure that we remain the killers we've always been.

The counter arguments often point to the Aboriginal Culture, as an example of peaceful co-existence. But they also did not have agriculture and Animal Husbandry to allow for the accumulation of wealth and power. We do. And I don't see us putting it back in Pandora's Box.

The cruelest part, is we just keep taking more out of the box. 
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