Monday, January 26, 2009

Wire: Obama Seeks US Space Weapons Ban

News in Balance
Pictured above are WWII era Nazi V-2 SSMs rockets and launchers.

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2009 -- Andrea Shalal-Esa writes in a Reuters political news analysis piece that President Barack Obama's pledge to seek a worldwide ban on weapons in space marks a dramatic shift in U.S. policy while posing the tricky issue of defining whether a satellite can be a weapon.
Moments after Obama's inauguration last week, the White House website was updated to include policy statements on a range of issues, including a pledge to restore U.S. leadership on space issues and seek a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites.

It also promised to look at threats to U.S. satellites, contingency plans to keep information flowing from them, and what steps are needed to protect spacecraft against attack.
It has been reported that issue is being closely watched by Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, Raytheon Co., the biggest U.S. defense contractors, and other companies involved in military and civilian space contracts.

More Action Before Having a Plan?

A defense official, who according to Reuters asked not to be named, said the Obama administration had not yet held briefings for top officials working on military space issues, but it was clear that the focus would shift toward more diplomatic initiatives.

Similarly, Obama last week signed an executive order closing the terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before having a plan to deal the the detainees housed there.

Work on classified projects involving an "active" military response to attacks against U.S. satellites might be halted in favor of more monitoring and passive protection measures, he said. He declined to give any more details.
The Obama administration also faces tough decisions on many multibillion-dollar satellite programs facing cost overruns and schedule delays, particularly at a time when rapid increases in military spending are grinding to a halt.
Reuters quoted another defense official who asked not to be named who said the new administration would work through the complex military space issues during a defense review to be completed by September, and as part of a space report due in December.

The new policy language used by the Obama administration was "impossibly broad," the official said. It also failed to acknowledge recent work by U.S. officials on guidelines for space debris and conduct by nations active in space.
(Report from a commercial news source.)

White House Web site
Reuters: Challenges loom as Obama seeks space weapons ban

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