Hey, kids, do you know what day it is?
Lincoln’s birthday? Well, yes, but…
Charles Darwin’s birthday? Again, yes, but…
Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s birthday?
OK, I can see you are not taking this seriously.
Today marks two important events. February 12th is “Extraterrestrial Culture Day” in New Mexico, a tip of the cap to the space alien tourist business there. The day celebrates “extraterrestrial culture, and our relationships with same, past, present and future.” Uh…OK. Pardon me while I phone home.
It is also the day (today) that the CIA and the Pentagon officially announced in a report titled “Challenges to Security in Space” that both China and Russia now pose a threat to the space capabilities of the United States, aiming to neutralize America’s distinct military and social advantages gained from our vast network of orbiting communications, weather and scientific satellites.
Further, the report says other countries such as Iran and North Korea have growing capabilities in this arena. Currently nine countries and one organization can independently launch spacecraft: China, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, the United States, and the European Space Agency (from French Guiana).
According to CNN, the report also claims “Russia is also developing an airborne (anti-satellite) laser weapon system to use against space-based missile defense sensors,” the report says.
These developments mirror the backstory of my 2017 novel “High Ground” which details a struggle between a small Maine town and a U.S. weapons developer testing airborne anti-satellite weapons over the North Atlantic, launched from a reactivated WWII Naval airstrip in remote corner of the coast of Maine.
This comes at a time when the United States has no way to reach low earth orbit, without hitching a ride on a Russian spacecraft. You heard me. This has been true since Space Shuttle flights ended in 2011. The shuttles flew 135 times from August 1977 to the last flight on July 21, 2011.
Later this year the U.S. hopes to return to orbit aboard a Boeing or SpaceX spacecraft, both in development and nearing unmanned and manned test flights.
It is worth noting that the U.S. military has been operating a top-secret unmanned space plane in recent years. Like it or not, military competition between nations has existed “off the radar” for some time. Today’s announcement only makes it all official.