Printer Friendly

Problems with current U.S. policy.

The U.S. government is committed to achieving military supremacy in space and maintaining dominant market share in the satellite industry for U.S. corporations. The mission of space supremacy did not suddenly appear when President Bush took office in 2001. It evolved from infrastructures that were borrowed from intelligence and weapons networks and were developed over forty years as part of the cold war. After the cold war ended, the U.S. sought a space-based, 24-hour reconnaissance network and the construction of a national missile defense (NMD) system to extend its economic might. Although the aerospace industry is not powerful enough to set the agenda for U.S.-based transnationals at large, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has consistently stressed that the implementation of global free markets serving large corporations would not be possible without the "hidden iron fist" of the military, which is led by the aerospace sector.

As an indication of the central role space dominance continues to play--and the intimate connection between commerce and the military--consider the many hats worn by Peter Teets, former chief operating officer at Lockheed-Martin. Teets now serves as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), undersecretary of the Air Force, and chief procurement officer for all of military space, controlling a budget in excess of $65 billion, a figure that includes $8 billion a year for missile defense and $7 billion annually for NRO spying. Teets is a firm believer in the conclusions of the Rumsfeld Commission's January 2001 report on the military in space, which warns of a "space Pearl Harbor" if the U.S. does not thoroughly dominate all aspects of space. In addition, key lobbyists for Lockheed-Martin, Bruce Jackson and Stephen Hadley, played central roles in developing space policy, and Hadley later took a post within the Pentagon.

To underpin NMD and space supremacy, the U.S. uses multiple space systems, and the Pentagon is spending billions to update each of these. Space-based intelligence collection is dominated by gargantuan geosynchronous satellite networks that represent windfall profits for prime contractors and have generated significant cost overruns. These systems range from satellite launchers to different tiers of satellites circling the earth.

From its inception in 1998, the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) was designed to reduce the cost to the U.S. government of imaging and signals-intelligence satellite launches. Large rockets like Titan-4 cost more than a billion dollars each, but the Atlas-5 and Delta-IV EELVs use streamlined designs and cheaper components to reduce launch costs by as much as 80%. Although the NRO heavily promoted the commercial spin-off possibilities of EELVs, the commercial prospects for the new launchers now appear minimal. Contractors see it as a potential bailout program for their cost overruns. The public may never learn how much the government has spent on EELVs. The NRO worked with contractors to insure that most information remains "vendor proprietary"--even if the information is declassified, it can remain secret to meet the wishes of the vendor. To date, it is believed that the NRO has provided slightly more than $500 million each to Lockheed Martin and Boeing, but even Defense Department inspector general auditor studies on EELV expenditures are classified.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) can provide precision targeting for military missions, while civilian customers use less accurate frequencies as navigational aids. Newer military enhancements to the GPS provide support for what the Pentagon calls "Navwar." Warning of impending missile launches has been the domain of an aging infrared satellite system called Defense Support Program (DSP). A critical part of the missile defense program involves the replacement of DSP satellites with a two-tiered network of satellites called the Space-Based Infrared System, deployed in two portions called SBIRS-High and SBIRS-Low. SBIRS-Low is still in its early phases, but SBIRS-High, managed by Lockheed-Martin, is facing a congressional review due to cost overruns exceeding $4 billion.

Intelligence distribution is a function of the Global Broadcast System (GBS). During the war in Afghanistan, the GBS provided "instant situational awareness" to troops and pilots by integrating intelligence from satellites, unmanned aerial vehicle flights, and ground signals intelligence stations. Imaging satellites will be replaced by Boeing's 8X Future Imagery Architecture, a satellite project with total procurement costs in the tens of billions of dollars. The signals-intelligence equivalent is the Intruder, a program that has amassed significant cost overruns.

As contractors retool international defense programs for missions serving the homeland defense duties of the Northern Command, the four consolidated defense contractors will increasingly develop dual-use capabilities. To cite but one example of the blurring of public and private sectors, the NRO and the National Security Agency (NSA) elected to outsource to Raytheon much of the intelligence processing for Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado, the largest electronic intelligence downlink base in North America. In 2001, Raytheon announced that it would set up secure-hosted Web services for corporate America in the same massive classified facility in which it performs intelligence processing. In August 2002, Raytheon announced a billion-dollar expansion at the same site to develop ground systems for the National Polar-Orbit Operational Environmental Satellite, a joint weather-satellite program of the Defense Department, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Raytheon's multitasking may represent the norm in a system dominated by U.S.-based defense contractors.

Key Problems

* Ever since low-earth-orbit telecommunication satellite plans proved infeasible, civilian launch platform and satellite efforts have faltered, and the growth of the space industry has hinged upon Pentagon ambitions.

* Globalization of the space industry directly serves Pentagon efforts to control planetary space for purposes of political and military power projection.

* "Globalization" of space has facilitated the consolidation of space control under Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman/TRW, Boeing, and Raytheon.
COPYRIGHT 2002 International Relations Center
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Foreign Policy in Focus
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 4, 2002
Words:949
Previous Article:The space industry: supporting U.S. supremacy.
Next Article:Toward a new foreign policy.
Topics:


Related Articles
Problems with Current U.S. Policy.
Problems with current U.S. policy.
Problems with current U.S. policy.
Problems with current U.S. policy.
Problems with current U.S. policy.
Problems with current U.S. policy.
Problems with current U.S. policy.
Problems with current U.S. policy.
Problems with current U.S. policy.
Problems with current U.S. policy.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters