Saltar para: Posts [1], Pesquisa [2]

Astropolítica

"Se se pudessem interrogar as estrelas perguntar-lhes-ia se as maçam mais os astrónomos ou os poetas." Pitigrilli

Astropolítica

"Se se pudessem interrogar as estrelas perguntar-lhes-ia se as maçam mais os astrónomos ou os poetas." Pitigrilli

Internet no Espaço

Julho 26, 2008

Vera Gomes

"Vinton “Vint” Cerf, um dos responsáveis pelo actual protocolo TCP/IP (usado pela internet) e o homem mais vezes apelidado de “Pai da Internet” tem, já há algum tempo, vindo a trabalhar com a NASA no desenvolvimento de redes tolerantes a atrasos (Delay-tolerant Networking - DTN).


Espera-se que por 2010 o protocolo DTN esteja já suficientemente maduro para ser incorporado em todas as futuras missões tripuladas ou não.
Assim realmente teremos uma internET."

 

(por Ilidio Vicente, in: AstroPT)

Politica espacial militar em 2012

Julho 25, 2008

Vera Gomes

by Taylor Dinerman
Monday, July 21, 2008

 

There are lots of good folks ready to advise Senators McCain and Obama on this and many, many other subjects, so it might be interesting to think about what the next US president is going to face in 2012. Geopolitically the world will probably not look that much different. What is certain is that the laws of physics, and above all the law of gravity, within the Earth-Moon system and beyond will not have changed.

 

The Middle East will still be the world’s primary center of war and political violence. Unless the US or the Israelis take truly dramatic action, not just a few air strikes, the Iranian nuclear missile program will continue. States such as China, Russia, and France will seek to develop and expand their military space forces. Small players, including India, Japan, South Korea, and Israel, will try and perfect their space assets and to insure that they can leverage them for maximum military utility.

 

By 2010 the question may not be what can we afford to launch, but how can we take advantage of the new lower prices?

Meanwhile, both long-range missiles and military space systems are going to proliferate. Even relatively poor nations in unsettled parts of the world are going to want to have their own “National Technical Means”, to use the old arms control euphemism. Smaller states in Asia and Africa are going to be the next nations to decide they want military space assets of their own. Malaysia and South Africa will both probably choose to commit big time to new reconnaissance satellites.

 

The US will probably not have deployed any “space weapons” but, in spite of relentless political posturing, the Defense Department will have done everything it can to prepare for the inevitable war in space. However, the President will not have been able to put much of a policy stamp on America’s principal military space programs. The early warning SBIRS satellites will finally have reached geosynchronous orbit and Air Force Space Command will still be trying to find new ways to use them to support America’s air ground and naval forces. If the TSAT program survives at all, it will still be trying to solve the nearly impossible problem of expanding demand for secure communications within the physical and legal limits of the radio frequency world.

 

Operationally Responsive Space will, by 2012, have produced a small number of useful satellites, but will not have revolutionized the field. After a major embarrassment caused by the publication of a satellite image that directly contradicted the words of at least one major world leader, commercial remote sensing satellites will have improved and will multiply as more and more politicians will want to have their own private access to overhead imagery.

The heavy, expensive, and fantastically capable NRO optical spy satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) will be just as vulnerable in 2012 at they are in 2008. Neither a treaty nor any form of international agreement will credibly protect them from harm and, in the unlikely event that the President and Congress agree to a program that would give them a form of active protection, the slow-moving procurement bureaucracy will insure that such systems will take be at least a decade before they are operational.

 

In 2012 the US will still be using the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 EELVs as its main space launch vehicles. For smaller payloads, though, the US will be even more spoiled for choice than it is now. NASA’s COTS program may insure that there will be three viable Delta-2-class launch vehicles available: an improved Delta 2, the Orbital Sciences Taurus 2, and the SpaceX Falcon 9. By 2010 the question may not be what can we afford to launch, but how can we take advantage of the new lower prices?

 

One thing the President and his (at least for the next four years it’s going to be “his”) Secretary of Defense will be able to do is to reshuffle the organizational charts. This is an easy way to make it look as if you are doing something useful—and sometimes it is actually meaningful. In March 1942, when George C. Marshall reorganized the Army into three large commands that reported directly to him, he cut the ground from under the old, unresponsive bureaucracy and laid the basis for America’s success in World War 2. In 1979 Jimmy Carter’s government was widely derided for setting up Central Command to deal with the Middle East—at the time he was criticized for just “throwing a headquarters at the problem”—but today US operations in that area would be unthinkable without it.

 

On many of the big issues the new chief executive will find his hands tied, but on future policy he can make a substantial difference.

It is highly unlikely that a new space force will have been created, but the current command structure may not last much longer. Strategic Command needs to either clear up its mission focus or someone in Washington will do it for them. It is hard to see how control of the nuclear forces and missile defense fits comfortably with control of the GPS and communications satellite constellations, while at the same time the intelligence gathering space systems are under the command of the “Intelligence Community”.

 

The next Secretary of Defense is going to find it hard to deal with this conundrum and unless he or she can come up with a miracle, it is unlikely that a satisfactory answer will be found by 2012. In fact, the new administration will have its hands full just dealing with the fallout from its predecessors. The Bush Administration has spent most of its eight years in office coping with the decision made by others, especially the Clinton administration’s decision regarding SBIRS, the major NRO programs, and the joint civil/military weather satellite NPOESS.

 

Whoever gets elected this year will face problems with the TSAT communications architecture and Space Radar. He will also need to give the DoD some directions on it future launch vehicle development policy. Does the US want to get back into the RLV business in a big way? Are the small “NewSpace” development firms ready to play a major role?

 

On many of the big issues the new chief executive will find his hands tied, but on future policy he can make a substantial difference. In science and technology policy, small decisions made in 2009 and 2010 will have big effects later, and that is the way history judges if a President and an administration have been a success or not.

Obama vs Kennedy

Julho 25, 2008

Vera Gomes

by Michael Huang
Monday, July 21, 2008

 

Senator Obama is portrayed by some as the successor and heir to President Kennedy, and they share the themes of youth, idealism, and optimism. However, on the subject of space exploration there are jarring differences. President Kennedy began NASA’s Apollo program, vowing to put an astronaut on the Moon in less than ten years, a goal that was miraculously achieved. Senator Obama has an education policy that will delay NASA’s successor to Apollo, the Constellation program, for five years. Obama has praised Kennedy and Apollo in speeches and a television advertisement, but on other occasions he has questioned the need for any human spaceflight beyond Earth orbit, whether it be humans on the moon or on Mars.

 

To his credit, Senator Obama’s quasi-official space policy has the bipartisan aim of reducing the human spaceflight gap when the United States will be dependent on Russia for access to the International Space Station. But the five-year delay apparently still applies to human spaceflight outside Earth orbit. NASA’s Constellation program has been criticized for being too retro and too similar to Apollo (even though Apollo was a high point of human space exploration). If Obama’s space policy restricts human spaceflight to Earth orbit, it will point back even further into history towards Project Gemini.

Even if foreign competition is ignored, there are still strong inherent reasons why human spaceflight should be fully supported as part of a space program that puts both robots and humans in space.

The policy changes that Senator Obama is proposing will have political consequences for the presidential election. Aerospace workers in the decisive state of Florida will be unhappy with his five-year delay and his ambiguous opinions about human spaceflight in general. This is during a time when the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is facing its most far-reaching changes since the Apollo-Shuttle transition of the 1970s. (Related changes at the Johnson Space Center in Texas may affect congressional elections there.)

 

It could be argued that “Kennedy versus Obama” is inappropriate because what was right in the 1960s is not necessarily right in the 2000s. President Kennedy was in the middle of the Cold War and the Space Race, and these rationales do not exist in 2008 (although the space activities of China, India, and other nations have been described by some as a new space race). But even if foreign competition is ignored, there are still strong inherent reasons why human spaceflight should be fully supported as part of a space program that puts both robots and humans in space.

 

An editorial in The Times of India has an insightful summary of the reasons for robotic and human spaceflight. Mukul Sharma writes that one of the goals of NASA’s scientific program is to discover extraterrestrial life, or conditions favorable to extraterrestrial life. Life is also central to the rationale for human spaceflight. Establishing permanent stations, bases, or colonies for human life—allowing humankind to live on new worlds—can only be done with both humans and machines.

 

Human life cannot be automated and replaced by machines (unless someone invents a machine with human intelligence and sentience, in which case all humans, on Earth and in space, can become obsolete together). On the other hand, human work should be automated when it is possible and advantageous to do so.

 

Confusing human life and human work has led to some bad arguments against human spaceflight. The sociologist Amitai Etzioni, who has been arguing against human spaceflight since 1964 (The Moon-Doggle), opens a 2003 essay by saying that NASA should be more like the Air Force. Etzioni was making the point that the Air Force is increasingly using remote-controlled, unmanned drones instead of piloted aircraft, and that NASA should do the same with its space activities.

 

It’s a persuasive argument, but Etzioni is comparing military aviation with civil spaceflight. A more relevant analogy is to compare civil aviation with civil spaceflight. This is where Etzioni’s argument falls apart, because no amount of arguing will convince Boeing and Airbus to replace their jumbo jets with unmanned drones. They may replace the pilot with a machine one day, but nothing will replace the human passenger.

 

This applies to other fields as well. The quest for a robotic car, as pursued by DARPA and others, will result in driverless vehicles. If they happen to be transporting cargo, they will be completely unmanned. If they are carrying passengers then they will be manned but driverless. Home automation is another example. The functions of the home are automated, but removing the human occupants would make the whole thing pointless.

 

In all these fields, work is being automated, the work of pilots and drivers. Etzioni is essentially arguing that we should also automate the passenger—automate human life. The automation of passengers does not make sense on Earth or in space.

If Senator Obama is serious about bipartisanship, mending divisions between the left and the right, and charting a centrist course, his campaign should revisit his space (and education) policies.

 

The popular “humans versus robots” debate is a false dichotomy when it only offers two sides of the debate. The third option, both humans and robots, is clearly the best resolution. The general election campaign sees both presidential candidates moving towards the political center. The center of space politics is to support both human and robotic spaceflight. If Senator Obama is serious about bipartisanship, mending divisions between the left and the right, and charting a centrist course, his campaign should revisit his space (and education) policies. Running punitive measures against human spaceflight may appeal to Bob Park or Amitai Etzioni, but for most people it is unnecessarily divisive and controversial.

Energia solar espacial

Julho 24, 2008

Vera Gomes

AS we face $4.50 a gallon gas, we also know that alternative energy sources — coal, oil shale, ethanol, wind and ground-based solar — are either of limited potential, very expensive, require huge energy storage systems or harm the environment. There is, however, one potential future energy source that is environmentally friendly, has essentially unlimited potential and can be cost competitive with any renewable source: space solar power.

 

Science fiction? Actually, no — the technology already exists. A space solar power system would involve building large solar energy collectors in orbit around the Earth. These panels would collect far more energy than land-based units, which are hampered by weather, low angles of the sun in northern climes and, of course, the darkness of night.

 

Once collected, the solar energy would be safely beamed to Earth via wireless radio transmission, where it would be received by antennas near cities and other places where large amounts of power are used. The received energy would then be converted to electric power for distribution over the existing grid. Government scientists have projected that the cost of electric power generation from such a system could be as low as 8 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is within the range of what consumers pay now.

 

In terms of cost effectiveness, the two stumbling blocks for space solar power have been the expense of launching the collectors and the efficiency of their solar cells. Fortunately, the recent development of thinner, lighter and much higher efficiency solar cells promises to make sending them into space less expensive and return of energy much greater.

 

Much of the progress has come in the private sector. Companies like Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital Sciences, working in conjunction with NASA’s public-private Commercial Orbital Transportation Services initiative, have been developing the capacity for very low cost launchings to the International Space Station. This same technology could be adapted to sending up a solar power satellite system.

 

Still, because building the first operational space solar power system will be very costly, a practical first step would be to conduct a test using the International Space Station as a “construction shack” to house the astronauts and equipment. The station’s existing solar panels could be used for the demonstration project, and its robotic manipulator arms could assemble the large transmitting antenna. While the station’s location in orbit would permit only intermittent transmission of power back to Earth, a successful test would serve as what scientists call “proof of concept.”

 

Over the past 15 years, Americans have invested more than $100 billion, directly and indirectly, on the space station and supporting shuttle flights. With an energy crisis deepening, it’s time to begin to develop a huge return on that investment. (And for those who worry that science would lose out to economics, there’s no reason that work on space solar power couldn’t go hand in hand with work toward a manned mission to Mars, advanced propulsion systems and other priorities of the space station.)

 

In fact, in a time of some skepticism about the utility of our space program, NASA should realize that the American public would be inspired by our astronauts working in space to meet critical energy needs here on Earth.

 

 

O. Glenn Smith is a former manager of science and applications experiments for the International Space Station at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

 

(in: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/23/opinion/23smith.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&oref=slogin )

Energia vs Espaço

Julho 21, 2008

Vera Gomes

by Jeff Foust
Monday, July 14, 2008

 

It’s language and imagery that would make a space advocate’s mouth water. In a television ad released last month by the campaign of presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain last month, a narrator intones, “American technology protected the world. We went to the Moon not because it was easy, but because it was hard.” On the screen, there is a matrix of images: an early satellite, a Saturn 5 lifting off, an astronaut on the surface of the Moon. Was a major presidential candidate really talking about space in a campaign ad?

Well, not exactly. “John McCain will call America to our next national purpose: energy security,” the narrator continued. The imagery on the screen changed: the rocket and astronaut were replaced by a gas pump, oil well, and windmills as the narrator talked about McCain’s plan to reduce gas prices, increase domestic oil production, and promote alternative energy sources. Energy quite literally pushed space out of the picture.

The real area of concern for space advocates, though, is the growing argument that a major national initiative is needed to deal with high energy prices and growing global demand.

This fixation on energy is neither partisan nor surprising. Skyrocketing oil prices, and the resulting sharp increases in the price of gasoline—the national average is now over four dollars a gallon, and approaching five dollars a gallon for some grades in some regions—have put energy front and center in the minds of many Americans. Hardly a day goes by where you don’t hear about some effect these high prices are having on the economy and on the way of life, from increased ridership of mass transit systems to sluggish sales of gas-guzzling SUVs to the precarious financial state of the airline industry.

So what does any of this have to do with space? The connection between high gas prices and spaceflight isn’t obvious at first. Yes, higher oil prices do increase costs for space products and services, just as they do for virtually every other industry. However, unlike the airline industry, where fuel is a significant fraction of overall costs, spaceflight is not nearly as vulnerable to swings in prices: the fuel that used by a typical launch vehicle is a tiny fraction of the overall cost of launch services—and some vehicles, like the space shuttle, don’t use petroleum-derived fuels at all in favor of alternatives like liquid hydrogen.

The real area of concern for space advocates, though, is the growing argument that a major national initiative is needed to deal with high energy prices and growing global demand. It’s an argument that not only both major presidential candidates have made, but one where they have invoked perhaps the holiest of accomplishments in the eyes of space enthusiasts—the Apollo program—as their model and justification. In addition to the television ad, McCain invoked Apollo in a speech last month in reference to a goal of his proposed energy policy to achieve “strategic independence” by 2025. “Some will say this goal is unattainable within that relatively short span of years—it’s too hard and we need more time,” he said. “Let me remind them that in the space of half that time—about eight years—this nation conceived and carried out a plan to take three Americans to the Moon and bring them safely home.”

The presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, has also not shied away from linking the Apollo program to energy policy. “Only one candidate has a detailed plan that is at Apollo moon-mission scale, using technologies that work right now—Barack Obama,” reads a passage in the energy policy section of Obama’s campaign web site. That document also calls for an “Apollo-scale investment” of $150 billion over 10 years “to jumpstart renewable energy technology development and deployment.”

Obama has also used Apollo to differentiate his energy proposals from those by McCain. After McCain put forward last month a $300-million prize for improved car battery technology, Obama struck back in a speech in Las Vegas. “But I don't think a $300 million prize is enough. When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the Moon, he didn’t put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win—he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people. That’s the kind of effort we need to achieve energy independence in this country, and nothing less will do.” (A number of space advocates have noted, in response, things like the Ansari X Prize, Google Lunar X Prize, and NASA’s Centennial Challenges program as examples of space prize competitions, albeit far from the scale of human lunar exploration.)

“When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the Moon, he didn’t put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win—he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people,” Obama said, criticizing McCain’s battery prize proposal.

Outside the presidential campaign, many others have invoked Apollo as the model to use for a new national energy program in newspaper editorials and op-eds. In a June 29th editorial in The Spectrum and Daily News of St. George, Utah, editor Todd Seifert mentioned Apollo—fresh in his mind after seeing the recent Discovery Channel documentary series “When We Left Earth”—in connection with energy policy. “It’s astonishing to think that we could land a man on the moon in eight years’ time about 40 years ago but can’t accomplish another important endeavor: shift from oil as a primary fuel source,” he wrote. “Sure, it’s going to take commitment. But it’s that commitment—like we made to the space program to land a man on the moon decades ago—that we desperately need as a nation.”

A similar argument was made in a July 6th op-ed in The Tennessean of Nashville by Preston MacDougall, a chemistry professor at Middle Tennessee State University. “It seems to me that the sky-high price of gasoline has had an effect on Americans today that is similar to what Sputnik’s overhead flight did in October 1957,” he wrote. “People have been surprised by it, and feel insecure even though a beeping fuel pump does not physically threaten them. They want the government to do something that solves the problem without creating bigger ones.”

MacDougall argued that what was needed was a comprehensive government energy policy, as opposed to half-measures and forgotten goals. Recalling President Kennedy’s May 1961 announcement of the goal of sending humans to the Moon by the end of the decade, MacDougall writes, “This goal wasn’t just thrown into an annual State of the Union speech, later to be forgotten, like President Bush’s plan to return to the moon by 2020 as a steppingstone to Mars.”

For the space community, this appropriation of Apollo to promote energy policy might seem harmless enough, if a little annoying, much like the old line, “If we can put a man on the Moon, why can’t we…” followed by any number of things. However, there is a hidden threat in the use of such language. A comprehensive “Apollo-like” energy policy will come with an Apollo-like price tag: Obama’s alternative energy proposal, for example, works out to an average of $15 billion a year: over 85 percent of NASA’s current budget. Where is that money going to come from?

Given that both major presidential candidates have promised to reduce current budget deficits, it’s likely that at least some money for an Apolloesque energy program would have to come from other parts of the federal budget. Could that include space? Possibly. As one space activist recounted, Obama suggested on the campaign trail earlier this year that alternative energy, and not space, “is what our next Apollo Program should be.” (see “Obama’s modest proposal: no hue, no cry?” The Space Review, April 7, 2008)

A common reaction from space advocates is to argue that NASA can be part of the solution to the nation’s energy programs, noting that the agency has pioneered alternatives like fuel cells and solar power. However, relying on spinoffs is a haphazard strategy, at best, and having a dedicated energy technology program within NASA would likely only take money away from the agency’s core space technology efforts.

Another common response, of course, is to cite the promise of space solar power (SSP). And, indeed, SSP could go a long way towards solving the nation’s energy woes—in theory. The problem is that even supporters of SSP acknowledge turning that theory into reality is still decades away, assuming that technological and financial obstacles can be overcome: little comfort for those feeling pain at the pump today. Moreover, others are less sanguine about SSP’s prospects (see “Knights in shining armor”, The Space Review, June 9, 2008).

Pit hed-to-head against each other, it’s almost certain that pnding on the development of alternative, cheaper sources of energy would beat out spending on space exploration in the minds of the general public.

This is not the first time that the US or the world has experienced an energy crisis. However, this time around the fundamentals are different: supply is not artificially constrained by an embargo; instead, demand for oil is growing dramatically thanks to economic growth in developing nations, particularly China and India. Coupled to that are concerns about relying on oil from unstable or otherwise undesirable parts of the world (the Middle East, Venezuela), as well growing concern about climate change and fossil fuels’ role in it. Combined, this all suggests that this is not a repeat of the 1970s but instead a permanent change that, without action, will only get worse, not better, over time. That makes it all the more likely that we will see some kind of new energy initiative by the federal government, be it Apollo-like in scale or smaller.

Pit head-to-head against each other, it’s almost certain that spending on the development of alternative, cheaper sources of energy would beat out spending on space exploration in the minds of the general public. Fortunately for the space community, public policy isn’t made that way, but new energy policies will add to the existing fiscal pressures on NASA and space exploration in the next administration and beyond. That makes it all the more imperative for NASA and its supporters to craft approaches that are cost effective and also exciting and inspiring, to help win public support and thus funding. Otherwise, the Vision for Space Exploration and efforts like it might run out of gas.


Sexo no Espaço

Julho 15, 2008

Vera Gomes

"(...)Trago-vos este artigo sobre as conclusões do Dr. Jason Kring, um consultor da NASA, que nos diz que o sexo no espaço será inevitável.
Tal como comer ou beber, sexo é uma necessidade básica dos humanos, e numa viagem a Marte que durará possivelmente 3 anos, é essencial combater o stress e satisfazer essas necessidades básicas.
Ele dá como exemplo a expedição ao Pólo Sul, em que os exploradores levaram parceiros sexuais só para essa missão. (ainda gostava de saber o que as reais esposas dos exploradores pensaram disto!) E ele diz que numa viagem a Marte, os astronautas poderiam fazer o mesmo. Diz ele que não sabe o que aconteceria aos casamentos em Terra, mas ao menos as necessidades biológicas ficavam satisfeitas.
Se isto não fosse já estranho o suficiente, o Dr. Kring chama à experiência sexual no espaço “human docking procedures”.

Além das questões éticas, se por acaso a mulher engravidasse, então o que ia ser da criança? Sabe-se que com experiências com ratos, os seus fetos nascem com graves problemas de ossos e mentais.

Apesar de discordar de algumas ideias do Dr. Kring, o certo é que ele tem razão quando diz que a NASA não devia cortar na investigação biológica no espaço, como tem feito. A NASA devia levar mais a sério este tema."

 

in: http://astropt.org/blog/2008/07/15/sexo-no-espaco-3/

EUMETSAT concorda em fornecer dados para o GMES

Julho 12, 2008

Vera Gomes

Foi decidido durante a 64ª reunião do Conselho da EUMETSAT, que decorreu nos passados dias 1 e 2 de Julho em Darmstadt na Alemanha, o fornecimento de dados e produtos ao GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security).

 

O acordo abrange os serviços pré-operacionais do GMES a partir de 2008-2010, durante o qual todos os dados e produtos da EUMETSAT, incluindo os dados em tempo real, serão disponibilizados gratuitamente aos cinco serviços base do GMES.

 

Os cinco serviços base do GMES são, o serviço básico para as superfícies continentais, o serviço básico para os oceanos, serviço de resposta a emergências, e os dois serviços piloto de Segurança e vigilância da atmosfera.

 

in: http://www.meteo.pt/pt/media/noticias/newsdetail.html?f=/pt/media/noticias/textos/EUMETSAT_fornece_dados_GMES.html

Senador Schumer e o Sistema de Defesa Anti-Missil

Julho 08, 2008

Vera Gomes

by Taylor Dinerman
Monday, June 9, 2008

 

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece published on Tuesday, June 3, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) suggested that the missile defense system that the Bush Administration wants to install in Eastern Europe is unneeded and that it is an obstacle to enlisting Russia in a program anti-Iran economic sanctions. Thus, since it “drives Mr. Putin to apoplexy” and “ it mocks Mr. Putin’s dream of eventually restoring Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe” it should be “dismantled”. He claims that the threat from Iran’s ballistic missile program is “hypothetical and remote.” One has to wonder exactly what he means by that?

 

In February of this year Iran launched what is believed to be its first successful test of a suborbital launch vehicle, called the Kavoshgar, from their new space center. Experts believe that it is derived from the Shahab 3 medium-to-intermediate-range rocket program, which is already in production and has enough range to hit all of Israel—and a good part of the rest of the Middle East—with a healthy-sized warhead.

 

Iran’s missile and space launch vehicle development program has been making slow but steady progress over the last twenty years. During the so-called “War of the Cities” (February–March 1988) during the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam’s Iraq fired about 70 modified Scuds, mostly at the capital Tehran. Iran retaliated with a few Scuds procured from Libya and North Korea, but they clearly got the worst of the exchange. The lesson they and other Middle Eastern states learned was that ballistic missiles, even with conventional warheads, could be a powerful political weapon. This has been underscored by the use of ballistic missiles and rockets in the 1991 Gulf war and in the 2006 Hezbollah war.

 

Short of overthrowing the Tehran regime there is simply no way to stop Iran’s missile and nuclear programs. Sanctions, whether supported by Russia or not, are useful, but they cannot eradicate the missile program any more than mass starvation can eradication the one in North Korea. These projects are continuing, slowly and with mixed success, but they are moving forward probably with considerable cooperation between the two states. North Korea claimed that its first Taepo Dong 1 launch in 1998 was a space launch vehicle test; few people, probably including Senator Schumer, believed this claim.

 

It now seems obvious that the 1998 launch was a step towards the development of the Taepo Dong 2 rather than a test of an operational vehicle. The North Koreans failed to successfully launch what is believed to be a Taepo Dong 2 last year, but there are no signs that either they or Iran have slowed down their efforts. No one is the West (and probably in North Korea or Iran) really knows when these missiles will be available in operational condition. It may be next year or it may not be until the middle or the next decade.

 

According to the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) the European sites in the Czech Republic and in Poland will not be ready to install their first Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) missile until 2011 at the earliest. There are only ten GBIs planned for deployment in Europe, but thanks to Russia and to the anti-American left in Europe these have taken on a symbolism out of all proportion to their military weight. Stopping one or two missiles aimed at Germany, the UK, or maybe the US east coast is probably the best that anyone can hope you in the 2011–2015 time frame.

 

There have been a number of doubts expressed about this program (see “Missile defense in 2006: now more controversial than ever”, The Space Review, January 30, 2008). It would indeed be better to defend both Europe and the US homeland using space based systems. However this has now become a test of will between Washington and Moscow, all to familiar to those who remember the Cold War, if the US fails to deploy these interceptor it will be seen as a major defeat for the US and its allies.

 

What Senator Schumer proposes is probably unacceptable to Russia. He proposes to bribe them with two or three billion dollars to replace the trade they would lose by imposing sanctions on Iran. This would involve cutting off Russian military sales and Russia has been keeping its troubled weapons industry running thanks to sales to unsavory clients such as Tehran. The premium prices paid for these systems can partly be used to finance Russia’s renewed military build up. I’m sure neither Senator Schumer nor the US Congress wants to get into the business of directly paying to upgrade Moscow’s military industrial complex.

Sometime within the next decade, unless the regime is overthrown and a new pro-Western government is installed in Tehran, we are likely going to face an Iran armed with nuclear-tipped missiles aimed at Europe and at the US homeland. Economic boycotts and “tough” diplomacy are not going to do much against a regime that is unpopular at home and is convinced that their God has given them a divine mission.

 

At the same time it should be kept in mind that Iran’s government is probably partly bluffing. They are depending on the nature of politics in the west and especially in America to magnify their military power well beyond its real capability. Senator Schumer and the Bush administration should both remember the lessons of Sputnik and the missile gap.

 

The reaction to Russia’s launch of the first Earth-orbiting satellite in 1957 was far beyond what the Eisenhower Administration expected. The nearly hysterical reaction of the US press and public to the news became a major asset to both the Soviet Union and to the Democratic Party. Russia was able to bluster and threaten the non-communist world with a small number of operational missiles and was able to create the impression that they had a force of workable ICBMs, which gave them considerable leverage during the Berlin crises of that period. The fact that until sometime in 1961 they had no missiles that could hit the US and had only a few which could hit targets all over Western Europe was not known.

 

In the US the claim by the Democrats that Eisenhower had allowed a missile gap to develop was a way for the to get to the right of the GOP on the national defense issue. It contributed to the idea that the nation had become lethargic and needed vigorous new leadership to get out of the rut it had gotten stuck in. JFK and many other democrats had been informed that the missile gap was mostly a fiction, but that did not stop them from using it as an effective political tool.

 

There is every reason to be careful judging the intelligence information coming out about Iran’s nuclear and missile program. There are also good reasons to doubt everything the Iranians say about it. What is not to be doubted is the need to prepare for this possibility by building as effective a missile defense system as possible.

Livro Branco da Defesa francês

Julho 08, 2008

Vera Gomes

by Taylor Dinerman
Monday, July 7, 2008

 

France’s new White Book on defense promises that the military will have a new commandement interarmees de l’espace (a joint space command). It also says that France will develop new electronic reconnaissance satellites and, eventually, early warning ones similar to America’s DSP and SBIRS spacecraft. These new systems will, they hope, be built in conjunction with other EU member states.

 

The new strategy includes a cut of roughly 54,000 military and civilian personnel from the Ministry of Defense. It also includes cuts in the number of operational fighter-bombers and the air segment of the nuclear strike force. A decision on whether to build a second aircraft carrier is put off until the next five-year plan. Overall, this policy continues France’s tradition of having a wide variety of military tools, but in small numbers.

 

Since Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of NATO’s military command structure, France has desired to lead a European defense organization that would push the US out of Europe. While Sarkozy has decided to reintegrate into the transatlantic alliance, this is, as Daniel Vernet wrote in Le Monde, “un geste sans importance.” [A meaningless gesture] In fact, the president and his government are continuing a long-standing strategy that owes more to the industrial ambitions of France’s military industry than to their supposed ambition to play a major role on the world stage.

 

The unspoken hope is that one day the US will leave or be kicked out of Europe, and that Europe’s governments will then panic and increase their defense spending from roughly two percent of GDP to something closer to four percent. When this happens French industry will be in a position to harvest the vast majority of these new procurement contracts. In preparation for this glorious day, France has continued a policy of developing and buying a little bit of everything, often alone and sometimes with other EU states, but never with the US. Its neighbors are content to develop their own specialist areas of excellence and to collaborate with each other and even with the Americans.

 

A dissident group of senior officers, calling themselves “Surcouf”, writing in Le Figaro, attacked the policy for exactly this reason. They speak of “une conception de la defense centree sur les ‘Programmes d’equipments’ aboutissait a une depense public considerable pour une utlite operationelle faible.” [A defense concept centered around hardware procurement resulting in a weak operational capacity achieved at considerable cost to the public purse.] Such problems are not unknown elsewhere, but it seems that in France things are taken to an extreme.

 

It is no wonder then that the members of “Surcouf” refer to the new military space programs as a “gadget”. After all, they are the ones who have had to command underequipped and overengaged troops for as long as they can remember. When French troops go to war they almost invariably lack sufficient basic modern gear such as night vision goggles or electronic warfare pods. France, like many other European governments, has been good at buying highly visible weapons like fighters and tanks, but then fail to buy the add-ons that make these systems effective.

 

Strategically, the decision to spend more on spacecraft and space operations can be considered an “add-on” to France’s overall military force. Better intelligence and early warning are not, by themselves, going to make France or a French-led European army victorious. Without them, though, there is no hope that Europe will ever be able to stand on its own. The goal of integrating all existing and future European spy and remote sensing satellites into a single analytical matrix makes perfect sense.

 

Building a European early warning network also fits nicely within this logic. This year they plan to launch two Spirale missile detection technology development satellites as ride-along payloads on an Ariane 5. The two 130-kilogram satellites will be sent into a highly elliptical orbit on a one-to-two-year mission to prove out the technology and to help develop a database on the characteristics of launchers and other phenomena.

 

In addition to building new infrared satellites to detect missile launches and perhaps for other purposes such as battlespace characterization, France wants to build one or more large, powerful radars similar to the US Pave Paws and other long-range warning and tracking ones. Taken together with the satellites, this will give a future French president, perhaps even Sarkozy if he wins a second five-year term, the option of building a standalone missile defense system. Already France and its partners, Britain and Italy, are building the Aster missile that may eventually have capabilities similar to US Patriot, THAAD, or the sea-based SM-2+.

 

France is not waiting for the other EU states to agree to join its number one new military space program, a sigint/elint spacecraft called CERES that it hopes to launch in the middle of the next decade. According to a government press release France is them only European nation to master the technology and operational skilled needed for such satellites.

Within current budgetary limits, Sarkozy’s government has not changed basic French strategy as it has existed since de Gaulle left office in 1969. The consensus has remained unchallenged by governments of both the right and the left. The role of space in French strategy has in fact remained high on their to-do list.

 

The enduring question is not what France wants—that is evident—but what do the other European nations want? Are they willing to trade their relations with the US for a new European defense identity? So far the answer has been no, but will the prospect of a European space force change this? That may depend more on the US and its next president than on Europe’s leaders and their collective or national goals.

 

Mais sobre mim

foto do autor

Subscrever por e-mail

A subscrição é anónima e gera, no máximo, um e-mail por dia.

Onde compro livros

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Arquivo

  1. 2019
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2018
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2017
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2016
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2015
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2014
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2013
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2012
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2011
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2010
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2009
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2008
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2007
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2006
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
  1. 2005
  2. J
  3. F
  4. M
  5. A
  6. M
  7. J
  8. J
  9. A
  10. S
  11. O
  12. N
  13. D
Follow