Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Shootin' at Satellites, or That Other Star Wars Sequel

I've been writing about the militarization of space since the very earliest days of these blogs, wondering at one point if in fact there wasn't a secret war taking place over our heads already. Back in February, I wrote about the new Star Wars programs that are picking up pace while many other military budgets are being slashed: 
You can tell the Cold War is back for real when the US starts funneling money into exotic space weaponry. Not to mention the fact that Russian warplanes are buzzing Europe and China is openly discussing its plans to drive the US out of Asia, claiming the Pacific Ocean as its Mare Nostrum. What we know about the space budget so far:
Last year, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a new “offset strategy” to develop breakthrough solutions to secure American technological dominance into the next century. This year, the budget request increases money for research and development by about $500 million, bringing it to $13.5 billion. 
It will be a great year for futuristic technologies that sound like they come from a comic book. But the budget also shows that every new invention has consequences and can raise new problems even as it solves others. 
Obama requested a slight increase in spending for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which would bring their budget to $3 billion to work on next generation technology related to everything from synthetic biology to space planes. Money for electronic and laser weapon systems jumped to $67 million from a bit over $55 million last year.
Well, the US is not alone. It turns out there's a new space race going on. Only this one isn't about zero gravity guitar plonking and orbital tomatoes, it's about war:
THE most damaging war the world has ever seen could be about to start. And it won’t happen on Earth.  
Three leading superpowers: Russia, China and the US are reportedly developing, testing and deploying sophisticated weapons in outer space in advance of a military attack that could see the first great conflict between sparring superpowers in 70 years. A conflict that Popular Science described as “A New Cold War in the Void of Space.” 
And there’s no rules in this free-for-all space race. Rogue, cosmic cowboys reign supreme. While physical damage on Earth would be minimal in a space war, our entire way of living could be at threat.
With our nascent Borgworld increasingly reliant on satellites, there seems to be a major effort underway to poke out your rival's eyes-in-the-sky, a perilous prospect for the US which has no credible launching system at the moment. But the existing infrastructure is nothing to sneeze at:
At least 1,200 satellites that are orbiting Earth for various uses, including navigation and communication, are also being primed for “planetary surveillance”, Scientific American reports. 
The satellites circle the globe communicating messages from the likes of the US military, 80 per cent of which is done through civilian satellites. 
While the US remains the “undisputed king of the hill” as the “most heavily armed space power”, China and Russia are keen to claim their own territory, working to destroy US satellites and replace them with their own.

Russia (and presumably China as well) seems to believe they hold the upper hand in the long run, even if the US looks like the dominant player now. Whether that's true or not, the Russians' rhetoric isn't even attempting to sound diplomatic: 
The Russian Defense Ministry has developed new technology to counter US battle stations in space, said Igor Nasenkov, the first deputy head of Russia’s Radio-Electronic Technologies Concern (RETC), according to Russian media sources. 
"If the United States starts developing and launching its battle stations into space, Russia will have to respond in kind — namely with the development of high-performance Electronic Warfare (EW) tools on different types of bases; the use of these tools will be a distinct advantage [for Russia]," Nasenkov said, as quoted by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
The US may be "king of the hill" now, but how much longer will that last? We brag about our software industry but what exactly is it really producing? Facebook games? Hedge fund pirateware? Worker-eliminating povertyware?

Now I realize we don't necessarily hear about a lot of specific space technology, and a lot of the space-program falls under the black budget, but I'm not one of these people who ascribes superpowers to those people simply because they work outside of congressional or bureaucratic oversight. I've been around long enough to see too many military miracles never materialize and too many rumored wonder-weapons never enter the theatre of battle.

The thing is that we keep seeing a lot of headlines about this-or-that technological epiphany, but unlike most of your friends on Facebook I actually read those stories past the headlines. And as I've written before the hype rarely- if ever- lives up to the wild promises made by irresponsible copywriters.

And one has to wonder if there is a secret arsenal of wonder-weapons sitting around in S-4 or somewhere, then why Russia and China are becoming so defiant in refusing to be militarily intimidated by NATO:

U.S. Navy on alert: China, Russia to launch largest-ever joint navy exercise

The Chinese and Russian navies are gearing up for their largest-ever joint exercises, slated to begin Thursday in the Pacific with more than 20 ships and featuring anti-submarine operations as well as a joint-beach landing.

The “Joint Sea 2015 II” exercises will run through Aug. 28 in the Sea of Japan and off the coast of Vladivostok.
Aside from the timing, I can't help but notice the symbolism at work in this next story, which I heard about from one of Joseph Farrell's news updates. Taking a shot directly at the heart of Western power, the Russians are instituting their own payment system called "Mir." 

Yes,"Mir" was the original name of Russia's former space station:

Russia is ready for the mass issue of national payment cards next year, as it seeks to detach from the Western-dominated financial system and distance itself from geopolitical risks, said the head of the Central Bank at a meeting with the president. 
Twenty banks have already confirmed their attendance in a pilot issuance planned for December, said Elvira Nabiullina Monday at the meeting with Vladimir Putin to report the results of the Russian banking sector in the first half 2015. 
The Mir payment system, launched in 2014 and branded in 2015, will have to conquer the 230 million-card Russian market.
That this move comes on top of China devaluing their currency can't be seen as a synchronicity. Nor can the fact that Russia and China are moving to expel Globalist NGOs, de facto franchises for the Western powers. 

They're not kidding around anymore.

 What we should remember is that this new star war will be fought on computer screens, almost exclusively by a new generation of soldiers who were trained for the work from a very, very early age by video and computer games. In that light, you may want to take note that gaming giant Sega got its start as a military contractor.

You may also want to remember that games like Space Invaders, Asteroid and Sea Wolf hit the market at the height of the previous Cold War. Or that Sea Wolf was based on Sega's submarine simulator Periscope

Or that this new-model SDI is yet another of the endless parade of Republican programs that the present Administration is signing into place without a single peep from the so-called antiwar movement.

Funny how these things work out.


  1. It is my understanding that even 2 or 3 destroyed satellites could cause a debris cascade that could destroy most of what is up there, and prevent the launch of anything else from surviving long enough to be useful.

    Do these guys realize the game they are playing? Or, is it just "money for nothing", like the billion$ spent on thermonuclear-tipped ballistic missiles? Just welfare for Aerospace contractors, and make-work for deadheads?

    1. Excellent questions. I guess we'll find out the answers soon enough.

    2. Maybe it is simply a return to Mutually Assured Destruction, but of the space-based communication/surveillance grid rather than the whole planet?

      Still a crazy waste of money and time.

  2. Watch Google’s new humanoid robot stomp around the woods like a drunk Iron Man

    1. Sheesh- robot-hype fails to live up again? Hey- it's just around the corner! Just you wait and see!

  3. "This new star war will be fought on computer screens"

    Reminds me of original Star Trek number 23 - "A Taste of Armageddon".

    The Wiki write-up:
    "Set in the 23rd century, the series follows the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, the crew of the USS Enterprise visits a planet whose people fight a computer-simulated war against a neighboring planet. Although the war is fought via computer simulation, the citizens of each planet have to submit to real executions inside "disintegration booths" to meet the casualty counts of the simulated attacks. The crew of the Enterprise is caught in the middle and are told to submit themselves voluntarily for execution after being "killed" in an "enemy attack"."

    1. @John - nice. :) All this also reminds me of 1st Season TNG episode "The Arsenal of Freedom", where E-D encounters a planet where the people were all arms dealers, and their "Ultimate" drone combat system wiped them all out by accident, and is continuing to engage any targets it sees, as a "sales demonstration". For a Season 1 ep, it's pretty good, some character growth for Geordi, and a ship tease for us Picard/Beverly shippers.

      Drones on land, air sea, and space? Machines programmed to engage and destroy without a thought? What could go wrong, Amirite?

    2. Well, this all makes sense. Especially given how many ex-military you had on staff on the various Treks.

    3. Indeed, the 'tales out-of-school', and really most of the showrunner/creative producer types on Trek were veterans and/or related to military-type people.

  4. (Hmm... michael/mjl bait...)

    The Cold War actually never really ended: That was just yet another of the feel-good tropes of the go-go 90s.

    The real action's in cyberspace these days. Check out sites like for a live-action view (the US and China appear to be tag teaming some server in central France this morning). Cyberwarfare, in real time.

    I'm more worried about about the upcoming currency war. Not content to wage economic warfare with Russia by driving oil prices down with shale oil that costs more to extract than it sells for... the US is now about to go "Crazy Ivan" in a currency war with China. With little good result for most Americans.

    Won't that be fun...

    1. The collateral damage will be our collateral. Watching the global stock markets lately?

    2. Watching the global stock markets lately?

      Yes indeed. Tanking, right on schedule. (Though I'm frankly more than a little skeptical of Black Swans that arrive on a timetable).

      IMO the true *splat* happens next year. It'll roughly align with the US election cycle heating up... just like it did last time.

  5. The Western Europeans-Western Asians see their time as Masters Of The World is fast coming to a close. So they're solution is to take the rest of us to HELL&DAMNATION with them.

    1. Where do the Americans and Chinese enter into this equation here? There are plenty of other people dragging us into Hell and Damnation already- they don't count?

  6. Rods from God anyone.....In addition to already being familiar with that horrible concept of warfare....I recently read it in an U.S. Air Force concept of war printed by Rand I picked up a couple of years ago at Borders (before it went out of business).....the last suggestion/scenario was the use of a Rod from God.....Frightening....

    1. Just the term itself should be worrying. Which god are they referring to?

  7. Completely off topic, but I couldn't find you on twitter to ask, but it seems as if the entire 9 part Star Trek lab9 series is all completely broken. Did you take them down?

  8. I enjoyed a little Farrell sync when, as I began reading, I immediately thought 'this is really Farrell's bailiwick and naturally the next passage my eye fell on was your mention of that very thing.

  9. "Just the term itself should be worrying. Which god are they referring to?"