Colorado Editorials

The Colorado Springs Gazette: Seek world peace through strength in space

Author: The Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board - April 17, 2018 - Updated: April 17, 2018

Space Symposium participants should brainstorm recommendations to strengthen our country’s national defense. Space, our future, is what they know best.

Between today and 2020 — less than two years — China and Russia will have the ability to disrupt or destroy low-orbit U.S. satellites.

Few American comprehend the weight of the potential crisis. Though thousands of miles out of sight and mind, we depend on satellites. Without them, life as we know it comes to an end.

The Pentagon’s Joint Staff intelligence doctorate, released in January, spells out the threat. Media gave it considerably less attention than porn star Stormy Daniels and a host of political scandal theories. The report echoes the alarming and little-known warning issued in May 2017 by Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence.

“Russia and China perceive a need to offset any U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems and are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine,” Coats said.

Iran and North Korea also intend to destroy American space assets.

If any succeed, it means considerably more than disruptions to DirecTV and Google Maps. Our economy and defense systems depend on satellites. Damage to key space infrastructure means widespread cultural, social and economic disruption.

“Without satellites, American troops on the ground would be lost, lacking communications, navigation, intelligence and targeting data that’s key to modern warfare,” explains Gazette senior military writer Tom Roeder.

The topic might dominate discussion this week, as more than 14,000 gather for the Space Foundation’s four-day Space Symposium, hosted for the 34th straight year in Colorado Springs. It gathers military, civilian governmental, and private-sector aerospace professionals from dozens of countries.

This year’s event is the first since President Donald Trump floated the idea of a Space Force. It would function alongside the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. NASA would continue with a civilian, internationally cooperative space exploration charter.

“Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea,” Trump said in March at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. “We have the Air Force, we’ll have the Space Force.”

Military and intelligence experts espouse conflicting views on the prose and cons of Space Force. Some challenge the wisdom of separating space technology from the Air Force, perhaps with good reason.

“From the launch pad to your iPad the United States Air Force is there. We are only getting better and faster,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

None should seriously question the need for the United States to better emphasize offensive and defensive military space technology. If enemies cripple us in space, they jeopardize freedom around the world. They force sophisticated forces to fight with primitive tactics, putting them on par with militias of dictatorial thugs.

The question is not “if” we pursue invulnerability outside the exosphere. The question is how.

As the world’s aerospace and military experts gather for Space Symposium, we hope they brainstorm recommendations the president and Congress can use. Take politics out of the equation and consider only tactical and technological factors that move us quickly in the right direction.

Let’s maintain world peace through strength in the final frontier.

The Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board