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In 20 years, assuming terrorists haven't anthraxed a couple of million Americans out of existence and plunged the world financial market into anarchy, the U.S. military will be so powerful it will control space and possibly even the weather. And companies like Boeing, with plants and offices in Anaheim, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, will lead the way.
It sounds like something out of Buck Rogers, but the Pentagon actually has something called U.S. Space Command. Headed by a four-star general named Ralph E. Eberhart, Space Command currently controls all American military satellites. But there are far more ambitious plans.
"The United States will continue to be challenged regionally," states a 1997 U.S. Space Command report titled Vision for 2020. "The globalization of the world economy will also continue, with a widening between 'haves' and 'have-nots.'" Because of this, the Space Command report says, "space forces will emerge to protect military and commercial national interests and investment in the space medium."
As activist Bruce Gagnon explained during a Jan. 22 talk on the militarization of space sponsored by the Orange County Alliance for Global Nuclear Disarmament, "U.S. Space Command is the army of corporate globalization. In the future, the government won't be able to put Marines on every street corner, but they will be able to see everything and target everything from space. We will be fighting in space."
Much as they do now, an ever-expanding constellation of satellites—some designed and built by Boeing—will circle the globe, monitoring telecommunications, military and commercial traffic, and, of course, individuals, says Gagnon. Satellites will even make it possible for the Pentagon to manipulate the weather.
"From enhancing friendly operations or disrupting those of the enemy via small-scale tailoring of natural weather patterns to complete dominance of global communications and counterspace control, weather modification offers the war fighter a wide range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary," stated one widely circulated 1996 Air Force research paper. Called "Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025," the paper predicted that generals in the near future could call upon such atmospheric weapons as "storm enhancement" and "precipitation denial."
More conventionally, Gagnon described how squadrons of cruisers and destroyers will ring the Chinese Pacific coast, ready to blast any launching intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Similarly, garrisons of U.S. troops and Special Forces will sit throughout Central Asia near China's mountainous western borders. Across the skies, Boeing-built 747s armed with anti-ballistic lasers (ABLs) will fly round-the-clock, ever alert to zap ICBMs boosting into the upper atmosphere.
Far above even the ABL aircraft, space bombers will zip around the planet. Launched from Cape Kennedy like the old space shuttle, the vastly more sophisticated bombers can drop nuclear weapons halfway across the globe and be back on an American runway in about an hour.
When the space bombers aren't in space, an array of nearly 50 nuclear-powered space-based laser (SBL) satellites—tested at TRW's San Clemente facility—will float silently around the globe, ready to shoot a hundred-megawatt laser at whatever the White House deems a threat.
"There are 110,000 bits of space junk orbiting the Earth right now, including 34 nuclear reactors," said Gagnon. "In 1964, one satellite nuclear-power plant called SNAP 9a failed and re-entered the atmosphere, scattering two pounds of plutonium around the globe. There are plans to put so much nuclear power in space you can't imagine."
Gagnon is no wild-eyed fearmonger. A political organizer since 1968—when he helped rally Nixon Republicans in the Florida panhandle—Gagnon veered left during the Vietnam War. Since then, he has spent years in Florida organizing fruit pickers. After several trips to Cape Kennedy in the 1980s to protest the military's growing influence on the space program, Gagnon found a new calling. So far, he has spoken on the subject of weaponizing space in more than 20 states and across Europe.
By 2020, he says, America's generals will be planning to build nuclear-powered battle stations on the moon and at two null-gravity points in the moon's orbit called L4 and L5. With these bases and stations, the new U.S. Space Force, a Pentagon department on par with the Army and Navy, will protect fat commercial ore ships headed to and from the moon as well as, in the words of Space Command, "deny others the use of space." It will become, in effect, our Spanish Armada. And we all know how that turned out.
"NASA's No. 1 priority right now is to lower launch costs," said Gagnon. "Once that's done, all launches will be privatized and corporations will reap all the benefits. This, after the American taxpayer paid to build the space program in the first place."
Stopping these trends seems impossible. Corporations such as Boeing contribute millions of dollars to electoral campaigns. International protests happen each year, with the next scheduled for May 10 through 12 in Berkeley.
Arizona Democratic House member Dennis Kucinich even sponsored House Resolution 2977, a bill prohibiting the U.S. from launching space weapons. Its future isn't hopeful.