Ted Cruz is Right About Space Piracy

On May 14, Texas Senator Ted Cruz made the mistake of using “space” and “pirates” in the same sentence, and the Twittersphere pounced. At first, media coverage of the story focused on Cruz’s supposed humiliation on Twitter. Then the story moved to Cruz’s criticism of Twitter highlighting his detractors on its platform, but not his responses. And then the makers and shapers of public opinion, from the lowliest tweeter to the top news anchors, found something else to pounce on. Just another week in 2019 America.

But the story should have focused on the substance of Cruz’s remarks. Here’s what Senator Cruz actually said:

“Since the ancient Greeks first put to sea, nations have recognized the necessity of naval forces and maintaining a superior capability to protect waterborne travel and commerce from bad actors. Pirates threaten the open seas, and the same is possible in space. In this same way, I believe we too must now recognize the necessity of a space force to defend the nation, and to protect space commerce and civil space exploration.”

It’s about time there was more public dialog about the security challenges presented by new space technologies. The rapidity with which these technologies have advanced over the past 30-40 years rivals that of chip technology, where capacity has doubled roughly ever two years. For example, in 1981, the ultra-modern reusable Space Shuttle brought the price to launch a kilogram into space down to $85,000. This enabled a global communications revolution […] Read More

America’s High Frontier

On May 25, 1961, in a speech before Congress, President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of sending an American to the moon and back before the end of the decade. Eight years, one month, and twenty-five days later, on July 20, 1969, American astronaut Neal Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface, joined a few moments later by Buzz Aldrin.

To fully appreciate how much the Americans accomplished in just over eight years, consider the situation in mid-1961. On April 12th, the Russians had embarrassed the U.S. by blasting cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space. And while American astronaut Alan Shepard followed Gagarin into space a few weeks later on May 5th, his mission was only a 15 minute suborbital flight. Gagarin’s flight lasted 108 minutes and completed a full orbit around the planet. We were way behind.

Moreover, compared to what eventually became the Apollo lunar spacecraft, these early forays into space were extremely primitive. Basically the entire Mercury program, designed to achieve spaceflight in low earth orbit while keeping an astronaut on board, consisted of putting an aerodynamic pressure vessel atop a souped-up intercontinental ballistic missile. By contrast, the many modules and maneuvers required to safely deliver three astronauts to the moon and back, was orders of magnitude more complex. Yet America made all that progress in just over eight years.

Back in 1969, if you told anyone that nobody would return to the moon for another fifty years, they would have laughed. The […] Read More