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Peace on Earth, and Keep Space for Peace

Guest columnist: Peace on Earth, and Keep Space for Peace

Dot Sulock, GUEST COLUMNIST 11:37 a.m. EST December 4, 2015



So what might not be peaceful about space? Mars, Jupiter, far away galaxies, all sound pretty peaceful. The stars are especially still and quiet and the constellations make us think of ancient worlds when things moved slow and stayed calm. Outer space doesn’t need our preserving for peace, at least not yet.

But inner space needs keeping for peace, especially low earth orbit where many, many satellites travel. How many satellites are in space? More than 1,000, about half of which are in low earth orbit. If you are interested in satellites, a great short video called “How Many Satellites are in Space?” is at this website:

However the idea of space as a high frontier for weapons has been around for three decades and the U.S. is at the front of research on space-based weapons. Fortunately we have not deployed any space-based weapons yet and it is good for us to understand the importance of not deploying space-based weapons.

The satellites orbiting earth are important to us in many ways. These satellites provide us with communication abilities, TV, radio, GPS directions, and many other valuable services. The satellites are already orbiting in a lot of space debris. More than 500,000 pieces of space debris are tracked by NASA and satellite owners are warned to have their satellite dodge the debris if their satellite is threatened by space debris.

This July the crew at the International Space Station had to evacuate the station temporarily, into their return craft, because a piece of space debris traveling more than 8 miles per second might have damaged the space station. War in space would create huge amounts of additional space debris and threaten the services from space that we are so accustomed to.

The struggle to keep weapons out of space is ongoing. Many nations are trying to prevent the weaponization of space at the United Nations. On Oct. 30, 2014, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) forwarded 12 draft resolutions to the General Assembly on weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons and a new resolution on no-first-placement-of-weapons in outer space. That resolution stressed the urgency of preventing an arms race in outer space. The UN vote was 126 in favor to 4 against (Israel, Ukraine, United States, Georgia), with 46 abstentions. In addition, a draft treaty was submitted by China and the Russian Federation on preventing the weaponization of space.

Sadly, the U.S. is not part of the international movement to “Keep Space for Peace.” We should be aware of this problem and pay attention to the undesirability of our country pursuing space weapons.

How do candidates for national elections feel about space weapons? Do they favor the high frontier idea of weapons in space or would they like to keep space for peace. Vote appropriately. The Western North Carolina chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility is a local resource involved in the effort to prevent weapons in space. They could use your help.

Dot Sulock lives in Asheville.

Mission Statement

PREVENTING WHAT WE CANNOT CURE: Physicians for Social Responsibility is the medical and public health voice working to prevent the use or spread of nuclear weapons and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and the toxic degradation of the environment.