New Space Race?

From the May 2001 Trumpet Print Edition

Remember the space race? The U.S. and the old Soviet Union were locked for decades in a race to see who would conquer and rule the territory above the Earth’s atmosphere. Sputnik is now almost ancient history. We’ve lived through the era of space stations and space shuttles. This was once the stuff of science fiction novels. However, as the Scriptures note, that which man imagines, he inevitably is able to achieve (Gen. 11:6).

Another sign that America’s ten-year dominance of the world as its singular superpower is over was reported recently: “Representatives of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company [eads] and the Russian Aeronautics and Space Agency [rasa] agreed April 4 to pool resources on several projects. Their new partnership will allow Russia to maintain a semblance of a space program and help Europe push its space program to the forefront of the industry. The real long-term loser in this equation is the American space program” (www.stratfor.com, April 19).

This news has U.S. military strategists and foreign-policy experts deeply concerned. Not only are the European Union and Russia creating history by establishing a security and defense alliance for the first time, they are now signaling the prospect of taking that co-operative capability beyond the stratosphere, into space.

Although an American aeronautic and space technology entity, Boeing has an existing design bureau inside Russia, cooperating in joint space programs. The European Union’s entry into a joint program with the Russian Aeronautics and Space Agency signals the EU’s intention to compete against the U.S. in the space arena. The EU space conglomerate’s cooperative military alliance with rasa is an effort to separate itself from its current dependence on U.S. technology.

Up to now the U.S. has had a stranglehold on satellite navigation through America’s Global Positioning Satellite System (gps). The EU intends to clone its own gps-style system, using its own satellite network and thus freeing itself of U.S. involvement in its space and earthbound navigation. This will leave a huge gap in the existing monopoly which the U.S. has on space and earthbound tracking intelligence.

In direct defiance of the anti-missile start treaties, Russia is converting many of its intercontinental ballistic missile propulsion systems to launch satellites into space. Thus the EU will have the advantage of a very cost-effective means at their disposal to launch their new satellites.

As Stratfor commented, “The United States is falling further behind in research and development—even as it shares its existing technology with potential competitors, including Europe” (ibid.).