Feeds

US stakes claim on space

New policy just slightly territorial

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The US has claimed "dibs" on the Universe with its new space policy. The document, signed by President Bush, was released on a Friday, just before a long weekend in the States. This, in itself has caused a bit of a stir, but not more so than the tone and content of the document.

In it, the US government allocates itself rights to access and use space without anyone else getting in its way. It also sets security at the heart of the space agenda, frequently citing its right to use space as part of its national defence.

Significantly, however, it does not commit to restrict, or even to join talks about restricting the development of space-based weapons. This is despite a UN vote last year in which 160 nations voted in favour of such talks.

The first bullet point outlining the principles of the programme sets the tone for the rest of the document:

"The United States is committed to the exploration and use of outer space by all nations for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity. Consistent with this principle, 'peaceful purposes' allow US defence and intelligence-related activities in pursuit of national interests."

In other words: "Everyone has to use space peacefully, except us. We can do what we like, cos we were here first(*). And anyway, if you try to stop us, it won't stay peaceful for long, which would spoil the first part of our principle."

The document then warms to its military theme. The first fundamental goal of the programme is not given as being to explore the solar system or better understand the Universe, but:

"[To] strengthen the nation's space leadership and ensure that space capabilities are available in time to further US national security, homeland security, and foreign policy objectives."

In keeping with this goal, the policy also confirms the Bush administration's abandonment of robotic space exploration of the solar system, in favour of manned exploration of the moon, and Mars. This approach is much more glamorous and exciting for Joe Public, true, but critics argue quite convincingly that it is much more expensive and scientifically less valuable.

International cooperation is not overlooked, but again the emphasis is on security. The US, the document says, might be happy to cooperate internationally on "providing space surveillance information consistent with security requirements and US national security and foreign policy interests".

Oh and "space exploration" too. Phew. ®

*Yes, we know.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.