On Monday, Trump’s educative livestream which was supposed to inspire scientific curiosity in millions of U.S. schoolchildren took an awkward turn when the president brought up his administration’s ambitions to pursue a space arms race.
Trump Bizarrely Brings the Military into Discussion
The initial plan was to use the broadcast to talk with NASA astronauts on the International Space Station. On Monday, astronaut Peggy Whitson smashed the American record for cumulative time spent in space. The previous record-holder is Jeff Williams who spent 534 days, 2 hours, and 48 minutes aboard of the international space laboratory. And Trump was supposed to congratulate Whitson and inspire America’s youth to pursue a career in science.
Instead, the president reminded America’s children that “there’s tremendous military application in space,” and that his administration is rebuilding the military and militarizing space to have the “strongest military that the world has ever seen.”
And I’m sure that every student watching wants to know what is next for Americans in space,
It is the first time a president openly associates NASA with warfare in what was supposed to be an educative message. The militarization of space is not only frightening, but it violates multiple international treaties which restrict the placement of military equipment on orbit.
Wow. Trump just told millions of schoolchildren about the “tremendous military applications in space,” then hinted at a space weapons race pic.twitter.com/quR6FSa8m5
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) April 24, 2017
A Space Weapons Race Is Looming
Experts agree that a space weapons race is no longer a Sci-Fi scenario as major space-faring nations like the U.S., Russia, and China are developing space weaponry such as lasers, satellite jammers, and microwave-based gun systems.
These weapons can be used to destroy surveillance, communications, and navigation during wartime or a national security emergency. The U.S. has already developed satellite technology which can be used for surgical strikes in all parts of the globe. Infrared satellites are being used to track nuclear stocks and other risks for the national security.
U.S.’s rival nations are reportedly working on technology to strip the country of its space services during a major conflict. Experts say that the most dangerous technologies are those jamming communications and GPS services since the technologies can be developed by any nation as they are very cheap.
For instance, North Korea is routinely using ground-based jammers, which affects both civilian and military transportation. Lasers and microwave-based technologies can shut down imagery satellites in an instant.
Last month, a Navy official said the U.S. is not “at war in space,” but it is not “at peace either.” U.S. space systems are now targeted by many nations while the environment becomes increasingly degraded. So, the U.S. has to prepare for a conflict that could extend into space. The official said the U.S. ignored the vulnerabilities in its space systems until the 2000s, when it realized they may be an issue.
In the meantime, China and Russia have each deployed a fleet of micro-satellites which can ram other satellites, steal data, or jam communications and global positioning systems. So, the militarization of space is a reality, but it shouldn’t be brought up in a discussion meant to inspire tomorrow’s leaders.