Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

Congress nixes Space Force, for now

You can put your decoder rings back in the attic! The Defense authorization for fiscal year 2019 that has now been negotiated between the House and Senate does not include any mention of Trump’s proposed “Space Force.”

President Trump himself has taken center stage in advocating for a Space Force. While the terms Space Corps and Space Force are sometimes used interchangeably, Space Corps notionally refers to an entity with the Air Force while Space Force is separate from the Air Force. Trump made clear last month what he wants: “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force. Separate but equal.”

The President cannot accomplish that on his own, however. Congress must authorize and fund a new service. Because of the attention Trump is bringing to the issue, one question was whether the NDAA conference committee might say something about it even though the House- and Senate-passed bills did not.

The answer is no. While the conference report adopts the House provision requiring creation of a U.S. Space Command within USSTRATCOM to carry out joint space warfighting and addresses a number of other space issues, it does not require creation of a Space Force or Space Corps (or another alternative, a Space Guard similar to the Coast Guard). The conference report does require the Secretary of Defense to develop a space warfighting policy and a plan that identifies joint mission-essential tasks for space as a warfighting domain (Sec. 1607).

In other words, Congress has punted, for the moment. They have not said no to the idea, but they also are not ready to create a new armed force devoted expressly to fighting war in space.

Makes sense to me. A military force in space is going to be necessary, without question and especially because of the terms imposed on us by the Outer Space Treaty. It just isn’t the time yet for such a thing.

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8 comments

  • Localfluff

    So they don’t have to rebuild the Pentagon to a Hexagon yet.

  • wodun

    Didn’t Trump instruct Mattis and someone else to look into forming a Space Force? Unless they have completed their studies and presented findings to the President and then to Congress, it shouldn’t be expected that there would be any action by congress.

  • Edward

    The concern for a space force is not so much to have a military force in space as it is to protect our space assets, especially our satellites in orbit.

    Here is an essay from Space News on the subject:
    https://spacenews.com/on-national-security-space-force/

    There is broad consensus that the U.S. and global economy could suffer a devastating blow if GPS satellites were attacked. Or that the military’s worldwide networks would be at risk if communications satellites were blinded by lasers or microwaves. The disproportionate impact that taking down a few satellites could cause gives countries an incentive to pursue anti-satellite weapons, and the military worries that it is not prepared or equipped to fight back. Another concern is that the Air Force — whose preoccupying mission is airpower — has been slow to design more “defendable” satellites to replace the more vulnerable ones.

    The Space Force essentially would be in charge of developing, operating, tracking and defending the military’s space systems, which in the case of GPS, also are essential to the civilian economy and global technology ecosystem.

  • Col Beausabre

    The problem is that there is no one organization within DOD whose mission is exclusively space (or cyber), it’s part of a whole list of missions for the other services and personnel assigned bring their organization’s viewpoint, biases and priorities with them when they are told “coordinate with the other services”. We tried the same thing with special ops and due to the infighting, duplication and rivalries, we had to establish a defacto sixth armed force, Special Operations Command.

  • Tom Billings

    Actually, it is long past the time when we should have had MilSpace out from under the USAF’s Air Staff. The Rumsfeld Report, in 2001, before 9/11, made it clear a newly separated service was needed, because MilSpace was being shorted. The Space Command budget has been a dipping well for the Air Staff for 15+ years by now, whenever they run short of money to keep more than 50% of their fighter squadrons combat ready.

    We should have *both* a “Space Guard”, to take care of one-stop-shop regulation and civilian affairs like orbital debris and rescues, and talking to other nations openly and intensely about spaceflight coordination activities, ….*and* a separate “Space Force” that will be far more tight-lipped. It will be needed to establish the *logistical* basis for keeping our MilSpace assets active as “force multipliers” here on Earth, and for expanding that role.

    That logistical basis has been ignored by the USAF Air Staff, by not funding a “responsive launch” program, to immediately (within 72 hours) replace assets that have been removed from service by hostile action or simple malfunction as tension builds around a conflict here on Earth. This would go hand in hand with smaller cheaper MilSpace assets that are yet stalled in the same bureaucratic tangle. DARPA is trying, but they are a “research only” group, that cannot fund any operational capability.

    “Responsive launch” will buy us time. It will not solve the problem as a whole, because it will simply transfer the current problem, of a few large and expensive targets, in the close confines of LEO, from the MilSpace assets themselves onto the vehicles performing “responsive launch”. By 2030 I would expect that the “responsive launch” vehicles themselves would be under threat.

    That means that by that time we will need a second supply route to replace MilSpace assets besides lifting them from Earth into LEO. This will require space depots, and soon after those, space assembly facilities, in orbits at the top of the Earth/Moon Gravity Well, such as EML-1. These assets can replace LEO and other assets within 72 hours, without having to launch through the LEO environment. The existence of this second source of supply will be made possible by commercial delivery using BFR and New Glenn, and New Armstrong, and their eventual competitors. As opponent capabilities increase, greater distance from Earth will be required. At some point, that will exceed the distance where speed-of-light latency for control of telerobotics is acceptable. At that point, we will see Space Force deploying its service personnel into Space.

  • pzatchok

    Cyber space is a civilian problem best handled by Civilian authorities.

    The Air Force needs to be reformed.
    They have always been at odds with the other three services over fighter aircraft.
    The Navy and Marines obviously need their own air assets.
    The Army have its own needs, mostly air to ground combat support.
    And obviously the Air Force have its own area of coverage. Prime movers for cargo and personnel, our dwindling bomber fleet, managing our nuclear arsenal, and as more need arises our space assets as well. Fighter aircraft are becoming something of the past. Ground launched missiles are taking their place. No more dog fights.
    Making a separate Space Force now is a bit early. Eventually it will happen but not for 100 years.

    As for replacing GPS systems shot down by enemies. That is not needed by the military. They have their own separate system and already have battle field plans to replace them temporarily. As for the civilian system. They can keep a few replacements on standby and just launch them on the next available craft. Is not life threatening if the civilian GPS system goes down for a few weeks. I know how to use a paper map and I will NEVER have a self driving car.

  • Edward

    pzatchok wrote: “Making a separate Space Force now is a bit early. Eventually it will happen but not for 100 years.

    This is an example of thinking that the Space Force proposal is intended to have a military force in space.

    pzatchok’s nonchalant attitude for our space assets assumes we have solutions to the problems that various military analysts and military branches are concerned about. The military does rely upon GPS as well as on communication, weather, and reconnaissance satellites — whether or not they use self driving cars. We have a limited number of early warning (rocket launch) satellites, and we do not have a way to launch even a single standby replacement satellite in a short time frame, much less replace a bunch of them on short notice. These are among the many problems that a Space Force is intended to solve.

    Civilian space assets are also a concern, because our economy has grown very dependent upon them for weather forecasting, farming, delivery, communications, and a host of other mission-critical purposes. Just because we do not see it in daily living does not mean that it is not there. It reminds me of the kid who is not concerned whether the coal reaches the power plant because the electricity comes out of the wall outlet (water comes out of the tap, food comes from the grocery store, whatever example you prefer).

    The argument is that because these problems are not being solved by the scattered organizations that acquire, launch, operate, maintain, and protect our space assets, it may be that we need one authoritative organization whose focus is our space assets. More and more people are becoming convinced that we need these solutions sooner rather than later, and some of them are becoming convinced that a Space Force is the way to solve them.

  • pzatchok

    A centralized Space Force is not the total answer to battle field problems.

    The US military is moving away from GPS satellite systems.
    https://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/2014/06/darpa-stoic-briefings.html

    As for replacing battle field communications the military is already planing in using locally launched drones and well as locally launched low orbit small sats. That is why the military is quietly helping to fund small portable rockets and research for this job. The army and Navy will have their own launchers just for doing this. No need for a Space force to take it over.

    As for the civilian GPS system. Let them handle that. Its cheap enough now that a private GPS company can be formed to build, launch and manage the civilian GPS system.

    Space X just filled the need for a very short time frame launch system. Just contract them to always keep a rocket ready to launch inside 30 days. They can rotate them out as they wish.
    Or the military can use a few old nuke silos as back up launch sites for Space X build falcon 9s with what the need as cargo.

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