One *billion* dollars

Maybe that’s more impressive if you say it in Austin Powers’ voice. I realize that Capitol Hill’s attitude toward money is a billion here, a billion there – you add it up in order to start getting real money. But in certain cases, $1 billion can actually mean something.

In the FY 2007 budget request, it signifies the amount of money that has been asked for programs which could have space weapons capabilities…or indeed, could be space weapons programs in disguise.

A new joint report by the Center for Defense Information and the Stimson Center (full disclosure: I’m one of the authors) has rooted through the Air Force and Missile Defense Agency budget requests and highlighted many programs which should be looked at more closely.

These systems, while ostensibly for other matters, could provide a dual-use space weapons capability. And a few of them – the Space Test Bed for starters – are flat-out space weapons programs.

The United States’ official policy is to eschew putting weapons in space, largely because they are so destabilizing, are ridiculously expensive to develop, launch, and maintain, and have an unproven military utility.

However, it would appear that the Bush administration – again – is more concerned with bulldozing ahead with a dubious technological dream (ahem, missile defense) than in actually sitting down and thinking through the consequences of its actions.

By funding these programs, the United States can create space weapons programs without having to go through the fuss of having to justify themselves to the public or consulting with Congress or really doing anything that would imply that there’s been some thoughtful analysis of the ramifications of weaponizing space.

At any rate, highlighted for special attention are the Missile Defense Agency’s Space Test Bed and Near Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE), the Air Force’s Experimental Satellite Series (XSS) and Autonomous Nanosatellite Guardian for Evaluating Local Space (ANGELS), and a new MDA Micro Satellite program. Plus there’s discussion of funding and possible plans for various space control programs, lasers, and even some sooper seekrit black programs. Go check it out.

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