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▲ Vision for mineral extraction on an asteroid, from ExplainingTheFuture.com [Christopher Barnatt].
GLOBAL AFFAIRS JOURNAL / Mario Pereira
[14-page document. downloadin PDF]
The American astrophysicist Michio Kaku recalls that when President Thomas Jefferson bought Louisiana from Napoleon (in 1803) for the astronomical sum of 15 million dollars, he spent a long period of time in deep fear. The reason for this lay in the fact that he did not know for a long time whether the territory (mostly unexplored) hid fabulous riches or, on the contrary, was a worthless wasteland... The passage of time proved the former, as well as proving that it was then that the march of the American pioneers began: those people who - like the "Adelantados" of Castile and Extremadura in the 16th century - set out for the unknown in order to make their fortune, discover new wonders and improve their social position.
The Jeffersons of today are the Musks and the Bezos, American businessmen, owners of huge financial, commercial and technological empires, who, hand in hand with new "pioneers" (a mix between Jules Verne/Arthur C. Clark and Neil Armstrong/John Glenn) seek to reach the new frontier of Humanity: the commercial and mining exploitation of Outer Space.
Faced with such a challenge, many questions can (and should) be asked. Here we will try to answer (at least briefly) whether the existing international and national rules and regulations on the mining of the Moon and celestial bodies constitutes - or does not constitute - a sufficient framework for the regulation of such planned activities.
▲ proposal of a lunar base for obtaining helium, taken from ExplainingTheFuture.com [Christopher Barnatt].
GLOBAL AFFAIRS JOURNAL / Emili J. Blasco
[8-page document. downloadin PDF]
The economic interest in space resources, or at least the reasonable expectation of the profitability of obtaining them, goes a long way to explaining the growing involvement of private investment in space travel.
Beyond the commercially strong artificial satellite industry, as well as those serving scientific and defence purposes, where the state sector continues to play a leading role, the possibility of exploiting high-value raw materials present on celestial bodies - from entrance, on the closest asteroids to the Earth and on the Moon - has awakened a kind of gold rush that is fuelling the new space degree program .
The epic of the new space barons - Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos - has captured the public narrative, but alongside them there are other New Space Players, with varied profiles. Behind them all is a growing group of equity partners and restless investors willing to risk assets in the hope of profit.
To talk of space mining fever is certainly exaggerated, as the real economic benefit to be gained from space mining - obtaining platinum, for example, or lunar helium - has yet to be demonstrated. While the technology is becoming cheaper, financially enabling new steps into outer space, bringing tons of materials back to Earth has a cost that in most cases makes the operation less financially meaningful.
It would be enough, however, that in certain situations it would be profitable to increase the number of space missions issue , and it is assumed that this traffic in itself would generate the need for an infrastructure abroad, at least with stations to refuel fuel - so expensive to lift into the sky - manufactured from subject raw materials found in space (the water at the lunar poles could be transformed into propellant). It is this expectation, with some basis in reasonableness, that is fuelling the investments being made.
In turn, increased space activity and the skill to obtain the resources sought project beyond our planet the concepts of geopolitics developed for Earth. The location of countries (there are particularly suitable locations for space launches) and the control of certain routes (the succession of the most convenient flight orbits) are part of the new astro-politics.
▲ US X-37B unmanned space plane, returning from its fourth mission, in 2017 [US Air Force].
GLOBAL AFFAIRS JOURNAL / Luis V. Pérez Gil
[10-page document. downloadin PDF]
The militarisation of space is a reality. The major powers have taken the step of putting satellites into orbit that can attack and destroy the space apparatus of adversary or third states. The consequences for the victim of such attacks can be catastrophic, because its communications, navigation and defence systems will be partially or totally disabled. This scenario raises, as in nuclear war, the possibility of a pre-emptive strike aimed at avoiding falling into the hands of the adversary in an eventual war. The United States and Russia have the capability to take such action, but the other powers do not want to lag behind. The rest are trying to follow the great powers, who dictate the rules of the system.
In space, too, the great powers are competing to maintain their primacy in the global international system and seek to ensure that, in the event of a confrontation, they can disable and destroy their adversary's command and control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, because without satellites their ability to defend themselves against the devastating power of precision-guided weapons is reduced. From this follows the rule that whoever dominates space will dominate the Earth in a war.
This is one of the fundamental tenets of Friedman's work on power at International Office in this century, when he argues that the wars of the future will be fought in space because adversaries will seek to destroy the space systems that allow them to select targets and the navigation and communications satellites to disable their war-fighting capabilities.
As a result, both the United States and Russia, as well as China, are funding major space programmes and developing new technologies aimed at obtaining unconventional satellites and space planes, so that we can unambiguously speak of the militarisation of space, as we shall see in the following sections.
But before we continue, we must remember that there is a multilateral international treaty, called the Outer Space Treaty, which was initially signed by the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union on 27 January 1967, which establishes a series of limitations on operations in space. According to this treaty, any country launching an object into space "shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, as well as over all staff on it, while in space or on a celestial body" (article 8). It also states that any country "shall be manager internationally liable for damage caused to another State party (...) by such an object or its component parts on Earth, in airspace or in outer space" (article 7). This means that any space satellite can approach, follow or remotely observe another country's apparatus, but cannot alter or interrupt its operation in any way. It should be made clear that while nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction are prohibited in space, there is no limitation on the installation of conventional weapons on space satellites. At the urging of Russia and China, the UN General Assembly has been pushing since 2007 for a multilateral treaty banning weapons in outer space, the use of force or the threat of force against space objects, project , but this has been consistently rejected by the United States.
In addition to the return to the Moon and the arrival on Mars, asteroid travel programmes are also being accelerated [NASA].
GLOBAL AFFAIRS JOURNAL / Javier Gómez-Elvira
[8-page document. downloadin PDF]
Since time immemorial, human beings have imagined themselves outside the Earth, exploring other worlds. One of the first stories dates back to the 2nd century A.D. Lucian of Samosata wrote a book in which his characters reached the moon thanks to the impulse of a whirlwind and there they developed their adventures. Since then, one can find numerous science fiction novels or stories set on the Moon, on Mars, on other bodies in our Solar System or even beyond. Somehow they all lost a bit of their fiction in the middle of the last century, with the first steps of an astronaut on our satellite. Unfortunately, however, what seemed to be the beginning of a new era did not go beyond 5 missions over 2 years.
The first stage began when President Kennedy uttered his famous phrase: "We choose to go to the Moon.... We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too". Although perhaps the end was written in the beginning: the only goal was to prove that the US was the technological leader over the USSR, and when this was achieved the project stopped.
Scene about anchoring on an asteroid to develop mining activity, from ExplainingTheFuture.com [Christopher Barnatt].
GLOBAL AFFAIRS JOURNAL / Emili J. Blasco
[8-page document. downloadin PDF]
The new space degree program is based on more solid and lasting foundations - especially economic interest - than the first one, which was based on ideological skill and international prestige. In the new Cold War there are also space developments that obey the strategic struggle of the great powers, as was the case between the 1950s and 1970s, but today the aspects of exploration and defence are joined by commercial interests: companies are taking over from states in many respects.
However debatable it may be to speak of a new space age, given that since the emblematic launch of Sputnik in 1957, there has been no end to scheduled activity in different regions of space, including human presence (although manned trips to the Moon have ended, there have been trips and stays in Earth's orbit leave ), the fact is that we have entered a new phase.
Hollywood, which so well reflects the social reality and generational aspirations of the times, serves as a mirror. After a time without special space-related productions, since 2013 the genre is experiencing a resurgence, with new nuances. Films such as Gravity, Interstellar and Mars illustrate the moment of take-off of a renewed ambition which, after the short horizon of the shuttle programme - acknowledged as a mistake by NASA, as it focused on the Earth's orbit leave -, is linked to the logical sequence of perspectives opened up by man's arrival on the Moon: instructions lunar, manned trips to Mars and the colonisation of space.
At the level of the collective imagination, the new space age starts from the square where the previous one "ended", that day in December 1972 when Gene Cernan, Apollo 17 astronaut, left the moon. Somehow, in all this time there has been "the sadness of thinking that in 1973 we had reached the peak of our evolution as a species" and that afterwards it stopped: "while we were growing up we were promised rocket backpacks, and in exchange we got Instagram", notes the graphic commentary of one of the co-writers of Interstellar.
Something similar is what George W. Bush had expressed when in 2004 he commissioned NASA to start preparing for man's return to the moon: "In the last thirty years, no human being has set foot on another world or ventured into space beyond 386 miles [621 kilometres in altitude], roughly the distance from Washington, DC, to Boston, Massachusetts".
The year 2004 could be seen as the beginning of the new space age, not only because manned trips to the Moon and Mars are now back in NASA's sights, but also because it was the first milestone in private space exploration with the experimental flight of SpaceShipOne: it was the first private pilot's access to orbital space, something that until then had been considered the exclusive domain of the government.
The American priority then shifted from the Moon to some of the asteroids and then to Mars, with the journey to our satellite once again taking first place on the diary space website. By returning to the Moon, the idea of a "return" to space exploration takes on a special significance.
The Brazilian Congress has approved to ratify the Technological Safeguards Agreement signed by Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro
With the reactivation of the launch site in Alcântara, the world's most perfectly placed launch site due to its proximity to the Equator, the Brazilian space industry hopes to achieve 10 billion dollars a year in business deals by the year 2040, with control of at least 1% of the global market, especially in space launches. The Bolsonaro administration has accepted the Technological Safeguards Agreement with the USA, an agreement that has evaded Washington before the Workers Party arrived to power.
▲ Launch premises at the Brazilian launch site in Alcântara, near the Equator [AEB]
ARTICLE / Alejandro J. Afonso [Spanish version]
Brazil wants to be a part of the new Space Age, where private companies, especially from the United States, are going to be the protagonists, alongside with the traditional national space agencies of the global powers. With the Technological Safeguards Agreement, signed in March 2019 by President Donald J. Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, the strategic Alcântara launch site will be able to launch rockets, spacecraft and satellites equipped with American technology.
The guarantee of technological confidentiality - access to some areas of the base will be authorized only to American personnel, although the jurisdiction of the base will remain with the Brazilian Armed Forces - will permit that Alcântara need not negotiate contracts with only 20% of the global market, as it has been until now, something that has held back the economic rentability of the base. However, this agreement is also limiting, in that Brazil is only authorized to launch national or foreign rockets and spacecraft that are composed of technology that has been developed by the United States.
The new political landscape in which Brazil finds itself has permitted the agreement to be ratified without issue on the 22nd of October by the Chamber of Deputies and on the 12th of November by the Senate, a very different situation than that of 2000, when the Brazilian Congress blocked the agreement proposed by then president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The subsequent arrival to power of the Workers Party, with the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva and Dilma Rousseff, froze relations between Brazil and the United States, leading Washington to momentarily set aside its interest for Alcântara.
The Alcântara Launch Site is situated in Maranhão, a state in north northeast Brazil. Alcântara is a small colonial town that sits 100 kilometers away from the state capital of São Luís. The town has 22,000 inhabitants and access to the sea. The launch site was constructed during the 1980s, and has to campus 620 kilometers squared. Furthermore, the launch site is located 2.3 degrees south of the Equator, making the site an ideal location for launching satellites into geostationary orbit, meaning that the satellites remain fixed over one area of earth during rotation. The unique geographical conditions of the launch site, which facilitates the launch of rockets for geostationary orbit, attracts companies that are interested in launching small or medium satellites, usually used for communications or surveillance satellites. Unfortunately, the institution suffered a bad repute when operations were briefly halted due to a failed launch in 2003, resulting in the deaths of 21 technicians and the destruction of some of the installations.
The United States is interested in the Alcântara Launch site due to its strategic location. As mentioned previously, the launch site is located 2.3 degrees south of the Equator, thus allowing US rockets to save up to 30% on fuel consumption in comparison to launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Likewise, due to its proximity to the Equator, the resistance to reach orbit is lesser than Cape Canaveral, meaning that companies can increase the weight of the rocket or of the load it is carrying without adding additional fuel5. Thus, this location offers American companies the same advantages enjoyed by their European counterparts who utilize a launch site in French Guiana, located nearby, north of the Equator. The Technology Safeguards Agreement signed between Presidents Bolsonaro and Trump in March is meant to attract these American companies by ensuring that any American companies using the Alcântara launch site will have the necessary protection and safeguards to ensure that the technology used is not stolen or copied by Brazilian officials.
Brazil's space aspirations are not new; the Brazilian Space industry is the largest in Latin America. In the 1960s, the Brazilian government constructed their first launch site, Barreira do Inferno, close to the city of Natal. In 1994, the military's space investigation transformed into the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), a national agency. In addition to the development of satellites, in 2004 the AEB launched their first rocket. Furthermore, in 2006 Marcos Pontes became the first brazilian astronaut to incorporate into the International Space Station, of which Brazilian is a partner.
The Brazilian government is clearly interested in the Americans using the Alcântara launch site. The global space industry is worth approximately 300 billion USD, and Brazil, who still has a developing space agency, could utilize funds earned from leasing the launch site to further develop their space capabilities7. The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) has been underfunded for many years, and could do with the supposedly 3.5 billion USD that will come with American use of the Alcântara Launch Site. Furthermore, Brazilian officials have speculated that investment into the launch site will bring with it further investment into the Alcântara region as a whole, improving the quality of life there. In conclusion, the Brazilian government led by Jair Bolsonaro hopes that with the signing of this TSA the relationship between the US and Brazil deepens, and with this deepened relationship comes monetary means to invest in the launch site and its surrounding areas, and invest in the Brazilian Space Agency.
However, this agreement does not come without its critics. In 2000, the government of Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso tried to sign a similar agreement with the Bush administration that was eventually blocked by the Brazilian congress in fear that Brazil would be ceding its sovereignty to the United States. These same fears are still present today. Brazilian former Minister of Foreign Affairs Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães Nieto stated that the United States is seeking to establish a military base within Brazil, thus exercising sovereignty over Brazil and its people. Criticism is also directed to the wording of the agreement itself, stating that the money that the Brazilian government earns from American use of the launch site cannot be invested into Brazilian rockets, but can be invested in other areas concerning the Brazilian Space Agency.
In addition to the arguments concerning the integrity of Brazilian sovereignty is also a defense of the Quilombolas, descendants of Brazilian slaves that escaped their masters, who were displaced from their coastal land when the base was originally built. Currently, the government is proposing to increase the size of the Alcântara launch site by 12,000 hectares, and the Quilombo communities fear that they will once again be forced to move, causing further impoverishment. This has garnered a response in both the Brazilian congress as well as the American Congress, with Democrat House Representatives introducing a resolution calling on the Bolsonaro government to respect the rights of the Quilombolas.
The Technology Safeguards Agreement is a primarily commercial agreement in order to attract more American companies to Brazil for an ideal launch site in Alcântara, which would save these companies money due to the ideal location of the launch site while investing in the Brazilian economy and space program. However, due to the controversies listed above, some may consider this a one sided agreement where only American interests prevail, while the Brazilian government and people lose sovereignty over their land. At the same time, one point could be made: Brazil has traditionally developed an important aeronautic industry (Embraer, recently bought by Boeing, is an outstanding example) and the Alcântara base gives it the opportunity of jumping into the new space era.
Brazil's congress approves ratification of agreement Technology Safeguards signed by Trump and Bolsonaro
With the reactivation of its Alcantara launch centre, the best located in the world due to its proximity to the Equator, the Brazilian space industry expects to reach a turnover of 10 billion dollars a year from 2040, with control of at least 1% of the global sector, especially in the area space launch sector. Jair Bolsonaro's government has agreed to guarantee technological confidentiality to the US, reaching a agreement that Washington had already tried unsuccessfully before the Workers' Party came to power.
▲ area space launch site of the Brazilian space centre of Alcantara [AEB].
article / Alejandro J. Alfonso [English version].
Brazil wants to be part of the new space age, in which private initiative, especially from the United States, will play a major role, alongside the traditional role of the national agencies of the major powers. With the agreement Technology Safeguards, signed last March by Presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, rockets, spacecraft and satellites equipped with US technology can be launched at the strategic Alcântara base.
The guarantee of technological confidentiality - access to certain parts of the base will only be authorised to staff from the US, although jurisdiction will remain with the Brazilian Air Force - will mean that Alcántara will no longer have to negotiate contracts with only 20% of the world market, as has been the case until now, something that hindered the base's economic viability. However, the agreement also has a limiting aspect, as it only authorises Brazil to launch national or foreign rockets and aircraft that contain US-developed technological parts.
The new political context in Brazil meant that the agreement was ratified without problems on 22 October by the Chamber of Deputies and on 12 November by the Senate, a very different status to the one experienced in 2000, when congress blocked a similar agreement promoted by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The subsequent arrival of the Workers' Party to power, with the presidencies of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, cooled relations between the two countries and Washington temporarily put aside its interest in Alcántara.
Brazil's space aspirations go back a long way; its aerospace industry is the largest in Latin America. In the 1960s it developed a first launch base, Barrera do Inferno, near Natal. In 1994 the military parent of research was transformed into the civilian Brazilian Space Agency (AEB). In addition to development of satellites, AEB launched its first rocket in 2004. In 2006 a Brazilian astronaut joined the International Space Station, of which Brazil is partner.
The Alcántara launch centre is located in Maranhão, a state in northeastern Brazil. Alcántara is a small colonial town located 100 kilometres from the state capital São Luís. The town has 22,000 inhabitants and has access to the sea. The launch site was built during the 1980s and covers an area of 620 square kilometres. In addition, the launch base is located 2.3 Degrees south of the equator, which makes it an ideal location for launching satellites into geostationary orbit. The unique geographical conditions of the launch site attract companies interested in launching small to medium-sized satellites, typically used for communications or surveillance satellites. Unfortunately, the institution suffered a bad reputation when operations were briefly halted due to a failed launch in 2003, resulting in the death of 21 technicians and the destruction of some of the facilities. In 2002 the Agency
The US is interested in Alcantara because of its strategic location. As mentioned above, the launch site is located 2.3 Degrees south of the equator, which allows US rockets to save up to 30 per cent in fuel consumption compared to launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Also, due to its proximity to the equator, the drag to reach orbit is lower than Cape Canaveral, which means that companies can increase the weight of the rocket or the cargo it carries without adding additional fuel. This location therefore offers US companies the same advantages enjoyed by their European counterparts who use a launch site in French Guiana, located nearby, north of the equator. The agreement Technology Safeguards signed between Presidents Bolsonaro and Trump in March aims to attract these US companies by assuring them that US companies that do use the Alcantara facility will have the necessary protection and safeguards in place so that their technology is not stolen or copied by Brazilian operators or engineers.
The Brazilian government is clearly interested in the Americans using the Alcantara site. The global space industry is worth approximately $300 billion, and Brazil, which still has a space agency at development, could use the funds from leasing the launch site to further develop its space capabilities. The Brazilian Space Agency has been underfunded for many years, so additional revenues are particularly desirable. In addition, Brazilian officials have speculated that investment in the launch site will bring further investment in the Alcantara region in general, improving the quality of life at area. For example, the Kourou base in French Guiana generates 15% of the French overseas territory's GDP, providing employment directly or indirectly to 9,000 people. In conclusion, the Bolsonaro government hopes that this agreement will deepen the relationship with the US, and that it will also provide the monetary means to invest in the launch site and its surroundings, and invest in the Brazilian Space Agency.
However, this agreement has also been criticised. In 2000, President Cardoso's government attempted to sign a similar agreement with the George W. Bush administration, which was ultimately blocked by the Brazilian congress for fear that Brazil would cede its sovereignty to the US. These same fears are still present today. Former Brazilian Foreign Minister Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães Nieto declared that the US is seeking to establish a military base in Brazil, thus damaging the sovereignty of the Brazilian people. Criticism is also directed at essay of agreement itself, which states that the money the Brazilian government earns from the US use of the launch site cannot be invested in rockets from development exclusively Brazilian, but can be invested in other areas related to the Brazilian Space Agency.
In addition to arguments about the integrity of Brazilian sovereignty, there is also a defence of the Quilombolas, descendants of Brazilian slaves who escaped their masters, who were displaced from their coastal lands when the base was built. The government is currently proposing to increase the size of the Alcantara launch site by 12,000 hectares, and Quilombo communities fear that they will once again be forced to move, causing them further impoverishment. This has been the subject of discussion on both the Brazilian congress and the UScongress , with Democratic House representatives introducing a resolution calling on the Bolsonaro government to respect the rights of the Quilombolas.
The agreement Technology Safeguards is a primarily commercial agreement in order to attract more US companies to Brazil for the Alcantara site, which would save these companies money due to the ideal location of the launch site, while giving them the opportunity to invest in the Brazilian space programme. However, due to the controversies mentioned above, some may consider this as a unilateral agreement where only US interests prevail, while the Brazilian government and people lose sovereignty over a strategic site. Nevertheless, it should be noted that Brazil has traditionally developed an important aeronautical industry (Embraer, recently bought by Boeing, is an excellent example) and the Alcantara base provides the opportunity for Brazil to leap into the new space age.
Evolving US space strategy in the face of growing rivalry with China and Russia
The prospect of battles in space, as an extension of wars that may be fought on Earth, seeking to interfere with the capabilities provided by satellites, has led the Trump Administration to promote a specific division of the US Armed Forces dedicated to this domain, the US Space Force. Although its constitution has yet to be approved by the congress, the new Pentagon component will already have its own budget.
▲ The X-37B orbital vehicle in operations at test in 2017, at Kennedy Space [US Air Force].
article / Ane Gil
More than 1,300 active satellites encircle the globe today, providing global communications, GPS navigation, weather forecasting and planetary surveillance. The need to protect them from attack, which could seriously disrupt countries' national security, has become a priority for major powers.
Since he arrived at the White House, Donald Trump has insisted on his idea of creating a Space Force, giving it the same rank as the five existing branches of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard). Trump signed the directive for the creation of the US Space Force on 19 February, the final approval of which has yet to be given at congress. It would be the first military branch to be created in the United States since 1947, when the Air Force was launched. The Pentagon expects it to be operational by 2020.
As US Vice President Mike Pence announced almost a year ago, this new Space Force will have its own facilities, although for the time being it will draw on the support and resources of the Air Force. According to Pence, the Space Force's goal is intended to deal with alleged threats from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran in space. Although its ultimate aim is specifically to contain Russia and China, who for some years now have been developing their own methods of conquering space.
Obama-era strategy reports
The Trump Administration has called for such a military specialization in space in the face of China and Russia's skill in the same domain, which during the Obama Administration was still embryonic. However, while during Barack Obama's presidency the White House placed less emphasis on military developments in space capabilities, it also sought to promote the US presence in space.
In the 2010 National Space Policy of 2010, in a rather inclusive essay , the United States defended the right of all nations to explore space and called for all countries to be able to work together to ensure respectful space activity manager in an framework of international cooperation. The policy that was then being set looked primarily to the commercial and civilian dimension of space, where the US aspired to strengthen its leadership.
The document did, however, include a section on security. Thus, it made reference letter the need to develop and operate information systems and networks that provide national security coverage, facilitating defence and intelligence operations both in times of peace and in times of crisis and conflict. In addition, it called for the development and implementation of plans, procedures, techniques and capabilities to ensure critical national security missions, using space assets while taking advantage of non-space capabilities of allied countries or private companies.
What was presented there in a more generic way, the Obama Administration fleshed out in a subsequent strategy document, the 2011 National Security Space Strategy of 2011, in which space was presented as a vital area for US national security. The text warned that space is "increasingly congested, contested and competitive", which urged the US to try to maintain its leadership, but without neglecting the international partnership to make space a safe, stable and secure place.
The document then set out strategic objectives and approaches. Specifically, the US aimed to "provide enhanced space capabilities" in order to improve system procurement, reduce the risk of mission failure, increase launch success and system operability, and train national security professionals to support all these space activities.
Another stated objective was to "prevent and deter aggression against the space infrastructure that supports US national security", which at its core included denying adversaries the significant benefits of an attack by strengthening the resilience of their systems architecture. However, the document specified that the US retains the right to respond in self-defence if deterrence fails.
Precisely in the latter case, the strategic text called for preparing one's capabilities to "defeat attacks and operations in a degraded environment". It indicated that military and intelligence capabilities must be prepared to "combat" and defeat attacks on their space systems and support infrastructure.
China and Russia's rivalry in the Trump era
Donald Trump became US president with his motto "America First", which he has also applied to space strategy, prioritising US interests in a context of increased rivalry with Beijing and Moscow. His space policy emphasises the dynamic and cooperative interaction between the military, civilian and commercial interests, respectively, of the Pentagon, NASA and private companies interested in extra-atmospheric spaceflight.
The first national security strategy document of the Trump era is the National Security Strategy (NSS) of December 2017. National Security Strategy (NSS) of December 2017. reference letter Although report barely mentions space, the text declares China and Russia to be "rivals", giving the US an opportunity to confront the opposing interests of these countries, also outside the Earth. The NSS proclaims that the US must maintain its "leadership and freedom of action in space", and warns of the risk of "other actors" achieving the capability to attack US space assets and thus gaining an "asymmetric advantage". "Any harmful interference or attack against critical components of our space architecture that directly affects this vital US interest will be met with a deliberate response in a time, place, manner and domain of our choosing," the document warns.
Some of these military issues are further elaborated in the Pentagon's report . In the April 2018 Space Operations document, the military leadership notes that several nations are making significant advances in offensive space control capabilities, with the intention of challenging the use of space by the US and its allies by threatening their space assets. It therefore advocates the importance of off-ground operations, which have the goal purpose of securing and defending space capabilities against the aggressive activities of others.
"Our adversaries' progress in space technology," notes report, "not only threatens the space environment and our space assets, but may also deny us an advantage if we lose space superiority". To mitigate these risks and threats, the US is committed to "planning and conducting defensive and offensive operations".
The broad outlines of Trump's space policy are set out in the March 2018 National Space Strategy document. National Space Strategy of March 2018. It is a policy based on four pillars: reinforcing space architectures; strengthening deterrence and warfighting options; improving foundational capabilities, Structures and processes; and fostering enabling domestic and international environments.
Directives and budget
In addition to the security aspects already noted, the Trump Administration has also expressed a desire to "promote space commerce" by "simplifying and updating regulations for commercial space activity to strengthen competitiveness".
To oversee these activities, which open up the space business to US private companies and at the same time set a horizon for mineral exploitation of asteroids and planets, Trump revived the White House's National Space committee in June 2017, 24 years after it was disbanded. In December 2017 Trump signed Space Police Directive-1, which ordered NASA to send US astronauts to the Moon once again, and in June 2018 he signed a directive on the management of traffic in space (Space Policy Directive-3). The fourth directive is the one signed in February 2019 for the creation of the Space Force.
Trump's new policy has not been immune to criticism, as it is argued that erecting the Space Force as an additional division of the Armed Forces could weaken the resources of other divisions, putting the country at risk in the event of an attack or emergency on Earth. In fact, General James Mattis, secretary of defence during 2017 and 2018, publicly expressed some reluctance at first, although he later began to implement the president's plans.
agreement According to data provided at the recent presentation of the budgets for the next fiscal year, the Space Force could have a staff of 830 people (divided between the Headquarters, the Space Agency development and the Space Command, which will require 300 million dollars for its installation) and a budget of about 2 billion during the first five years. At the end of those five years it could have a payroll of 15,000 people.
From Soviet assistance to the race with the US to take advantage of the mineral wealth of asteroids
The arrival of a Chinese artifact on the hidden side of the Moon has led world public opinion to focus on the Chinese space program, more developed than many imagined. Assisted by the Soviets in their beginnings, the Chinese have ended up taking a lead in some programs (probably more apparent than real, due to some setbacks), such as the development of their own permanent space station, and compete with the United States in the desire to take advantage of the mineral wealth of asteroids.
▲ Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center [CNSA]
ARTICLE / Sebastián Bruzzone [Spanish version]
The Chinese space program started at the beginning of the Cold War, in the midst of a direct struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union for the control of international politics. Since 1955, Chairman Mao Zedong looked for the respect of the world powers and decided to follow in the footsteps of the neighboring country, the USSR. In March of the following year, the Fifth Academy of the Ministry of National Defense began the development of a first ballistic missile (Twelve Year Chinese Aerospace Plan). After the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union in 1957, Mao embarked on the development of a Chinese artificial satellite that would be active in space two years later (Project 581), an effort materially and economically supported by the Soviet Union. However, in the early 1960s, all economic and technological assistance by the USSR stopped after Beijing accused Nikita Khrushchev of being a revisionist leader who wanted to restore capitalism.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is in charge of the Chinese space program. The first Chinese manned space flight took place in 2003, with Yang Liwei, aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft, which was docked to the Tiangong-1 space station. In this way, China became the third nation to send humans out of Earth. The main objective of the Shenzhou missions is the establishment of a permanent space station. Up to now, there have been nine Chinese men and seven women in space.
Since 2007, China put its focus on the Moon. The Chinese lunar exploration program has been developed in four phases. The first (Chang'e 1 and 2), that took place in 2007 with CZ-3A, was the launching of two unmanned lunar orbital probes. The second (Chang'e 3 and 4), conducted in 2013 with CZ-5/E, was the first moon landing of two rovers. The third one (Chang'e 5 and 6), executed in 2017 with CZ-5/E, consisted of a moon landing and return of samples. And the fourth, scheduled for 2024 with CZ-7, will consist of a manned mission and the implementation of permanent instructions on the lunar surface.
The Chang'e 4 mission was launched on December 8, 2018; the landing took place on 3rd January 2019 in the crater Von Kárman (186 kilometers of diameter), in the southern hemisphere of the hidden face of the Moon. The landing was a success, according to Sun Zezhou, chief engineer of the mission. The images transmitted by the Yutu-2 rover showed that this lunar surface never before explored is densely perforated by impact craters and that its crust is thicker than the visible side. As part of a biological project a cotton seed sprouted, but the high levels of radiation, lower gravity than terrestrial and sudden changes in temperature killed the cotton plant some days later. Given that the hidden side of the Moon is protected from any interference from the Earth, according to astronomers, it should be a good place to better study the evolution of stars and galaxies.
In mid-2017, Chinese intentions to search for scarce minerals on Earth on the surface and, if possible, inside asteroids, were made public. Within China's space program, this particular issue occupies an important place. According to Ye Peijan, head of the lunar exploration program, in recent years his country has been studying the possibility of executing a mission that captures an asteroid to place it in the orbit of the Moon, and thus be able to mine it, or even use it as a permanent space station, according to the South China Morning Post. The same official highlighted that in the Solar System and near our planet there are asteroids and stars with a large amount of precious metals and other materials. This plan could be launched as soon as 2020. To do this, the CNSA will use the Tianzhou position ships, unlike the Shenzhou manned exploration vessels whose main objective is the establishment of a permanent space station, or the Chang'e of lunar missions.
The cost of this futuristic plan would be very high and it would involve the organization of complex and high-risk missions, but the interest will not decline, since it could be very profitable in the long term and would provide billionaire benefits. Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak has pointed out that a single asteroid could have more than 50 billion dollars in platinum, as well as water or other precious metals.
The capture of an asteroid requires, first, that a ship land on its surface, to anchor itself. The ship must have incredibly powerful engines, so that, being anchored, it may be able to drag the entire asteroid into the Moon's orbit. These thrusters, with enough power to move a rock of thousands of tons, still do not exist. Ye Peijan has warned that this technology needed for such a space experience could take approximately 40 years to develop. For the moment, in March 2017 China announced in the official press that it had the intention of sending probes to the cosmos to study trajectories and characteristics of some objective asteroids. Thus China goes to direct competition with NASA, which is developing a program to reach an asteroid as well.
Tiangong-1 was the first space laboratory that China put into orbit, in 2011, measuring 10.5 meters in length, 3.4 meters in diameter and weighing 8.5 tons, with the objective of carrying out experiments within the Chinese space program and starting the permanent station that the CNSA seeks to have in orbit by 2023. Against all speculations, in 2016 the digital control of the ship was lost and it ended destroyed in pieces over the Pacific Ocean, northwest of New Zealand. Subsequently, that very year a second module, Tiangong-2, was launched with the same objectives. On the other hand, China is making progress in the plan to establish a permanent space station. According to Yang Liwei, the central capsule will be launched in 2020 and the two experimental modules in the two subsequent years, with manned missions and position spacecraft.
From Soviet Aid to the degree program with the U.S. to take advantage of asteroid mineral wealth
The arrival of a Chinese device on the far side of the Moon has led world public opinion to focus on China's space program, which is more developed than many imagined. Aided by the Soviets in their early days, the Chinese have ended up taking the lead in some programs (probably more apparent than real, given certain setbacks suffered), such as the development of a permanent space station of their own, and compete with the United States in the desire to harness the mineral wealth of asteroids.
▲ Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center [CNSA]
article / Sebastián Bruzzone [English version]
The origin of China's space program1 can be traced back to the early Cold War, at the height of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union over control of international politics. Since 1955, Chairman Mao Zedong sought the respect of world powers and decided to follow in the footsteps of the neighboring country, the USSR. In March of the following year, the Fifth Academy of the Ministry of National Defense began the development of a first ballistic missile (China's Twelve-Year Aerospace Plan). After the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union in 1957, Mao threw himself into the development of a Chinese artificial satellite that would be active in space two years later (project 581), in an effort materially and economically supported by the Soviet Union. However, in the early 1960s, the USSR withdrew all its attendance economic and technological crisis following Beijing's accusation that the first secretary of the committee The Central of the CPSU, Nikita Khrushchev, was a revisionist and wanted to restore capitalism.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is the manager of space programs. The first Chinese manned spaceflight took place in 2003, with Yang Liwei, aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft, which docked with the Tiangong-1 space station. In doing so, China became the third nation to send men off Earth. The main goal One of the Shenzhou missions is the establishment of a permanent space station. To date, nine Chinese men and seven women have traveled into space.
Since 2007, China has shown a special interest in Luna. China's lunar exploration program consists of four phases. In the first (Chang'e 1 and 2), carried out with CZ-3A, two unmanned lunar orbital probes were launched. In the second (Chang'e 3 and 4), in 2013, with CZ-5/E, the first moon landing of two rovers took place. The third (Chang'e 5 and 6) was executed in 2017 with CZ-5/E, consisting of a moon landing and sample return. The fourth, with CZ-7, is scheduled for 2024; will consist of a mission statement manned and the implementation of instructions on the lunar surface.
The mission statement Chang'e 4 was launched on December 8, 2018, and landed on the lunar surface on January 3, 2019, in the crater Von Kárman (186 kilometers in diameter), in the southern hemisphere of the far side of the satellite. Images transmitted by the Yutu-2 rover showed that this never-before-explored lunar surface is densely pierced by impact craters and that its crust is thicker than the visible side. As part of a essay A cotton seed could be sprouted, but high levels of radiation, gravity lower than Earth's, and sudden changes in temperature caused the cotton plant to succumb a few days later. Astronomers believe that the far side is protected from interference from Earth, so from there it would be possible to better study the evolution of stars and galaxies.
In mid-2017, Chinese intentions to search for minerals scarce on Earth on the surface of asteroids, and if possible in their interiors, were made public. Within China's space program, this topic Concrete occupies an important place. Of agreement with Ye Peijan, Maxim manager of the lunar exploration programme, his country had been studying in recent years the possibility of carrying out a mission statement to capture an asteroid to place it in the orbit of the Moon, so that it can be exploited minerally, or even used as a permanent space station, according to the South China Morning Post. The same manager He pointed out that in the Solar System and near our planet there are asteroids and stars with a large amount of precious metals and other materials. This plan will be implemented from 2020. To do this, the CNSA will use the Tianzhou cargo ships, as opposed to the manned Shenzhou exploration ships whose goal The main one is the establishment of a permanent space station, or the Chang'e lunar missions.
The cost of this futuristic plan would be very high, as it would involve the organization of complex and high-risk missions, but interest will not wane, as it could be very profitable in the long term and would give billions of dollars in profits. According to Noah Poponak, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, a single asteroid could have more than $50 billion worth of platinum, as well as other precious metals and water.
Capturing an asteroid requires, first, that a spacecraft land on its surface, in order to anchor itself. The spacecraft will need to have extremely powerful engines, so that, being anchored, it can be able to drag the entire asteroid into the orbit of the Moon. These thrusters, powerful enough to move a rock weighing thousands of tons, do not yet exist. Ye Peijan has warned that this technology needed for such a space experience could take approximately 40 years to develop. For the time being, in March 2017 China announced in the official press that it intended to send probes into the cosmos to study the trajectories and characteristics of some asteroids. With this, it goes live skill with NASA, which is also developing a program aimed at an asteroid.
Tiangong-1 was the first laboratory It is a space telescope that China launched into orbit in 2011, with a length of 10.5 meters, a diameter of 3.4 meters and a weight of 8.5 tons. His goal was to carry out experiments within the Chinese space program and launch the permanent station that the CNSA seeks to have in orbit by 2023. Against all odds, in 2016 digital control of the ship was lost and destroyed in pieces over the Pacific Ocean, northwest of New Zealand. That same year, 2016, a second module, Tiangong-2, with the same objectives. On the other hand, China is making progress on the plan to establish a permanent space station. According to Yang Liwei, the core capsule will be launched in 2020 and the two experimental modules in the following two years, with manned missions and cargo spacecraft.