Jeffrey LewisGreetings from Rock Island, IL

If you find yourself stuck in Rock Island, make sure to stop by Theo/’s Java Hut in Rock Island(213 17th St. With wifi, though the staff doesn/’t seem to know this) and have dinner at Duck City Bistro in Davenport (115 E 3rd St. Reservations: 563-322-3825 ). To get from Theo/’s to Duck City, you drive over the lovely bridge depicted in this postcard.

Anyway, to work.

The Missile Defense Agency has released a draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (September 1, 2004) that “considers two alternatives to implementing an integrated BMDS that address the use of weapons components from land-, sea-, air-, and space-based platforms in addition to the No Action alternative as required by NEPA.

  • Alternative 1. Under Alternative 1, the MDA would develop, test, deploy, and plan to decommission land-, sea-, and air-based platforms for BMDS weapons components and related architecture and assets. Alternative 1 would include space-based sensors, but would not include space-based defensive weapons.
  • Alternative 2. Under Alternative 2, the MDA would develop, test, deploy, and plan to decommission land-, sea-, air-, and space-based platforms for BMDS weapons components and related architecture and assets. Alternative 2 would be identical to Alternative 1, with the addition of space-based defensive weapons.
  • No Action Alternative. Under No Action the MDA would not develop, test, deploy, or plan for decommissioning activities for an integrated BMDS. Instead, the MDA would continue existing development and testing of discrete systems as stand-alone missile defense capabilities. Individual systems would continue to be tested but would not be subjected to system integration tests.

The document is more forthright about NFIRE/’s role, noting that “Testing of a space-based weapons platform would involve ground-based testing including modeling and simulations of space-based technology, as well as multiple launches to emplace prototype technology in orbit. The prototype would then be tested in increasing realistic scenarios involving simulated and actual intercepts of targets. The Near-field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE) spacecraft could be launched on a Minotaur space launch vehicle from Wallops Flight Facility.”

Theresa Hitchens notes that the paragraph goes on to talk about prototype testing, but “doesn/’t mention a dang thing about plume studies.”

The PEIS, especially the space-based component, has gotten a bit of press including Jeremy Singer, “Space-Based Missile Interceptors Could Pose Debris Threat” Space.com (September 13, 2004) and “Missile Defense Agency Eyeing Space-Based Interceptor Test Bed By 2012,” Inside Missile Defense (September 15, 2004) 1.

(Big ups to Theresa Hitchens and Victoria Samson for actually reading these things).

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