Satellite War and Bombing the Moon

I’m pleased to note that Glenn Reynolds and I have a new short opinion piece up at Forbes.com,”Bombing the Moon.”  It takes the hook of the LCROSS mission last week to shift gears from explosions on the Moon to … orbital war on satellites.

We applaud an Obama administration initiative to try and get ahead of the issue, but also point out the rogue state-shooting-at-space problem with diplomatic initiatives.  Here’s a short bit:

The LCROSS mission is an important and expensive scientific experiment. Nonetheless, comments on Web sites such as Scientific American and Nature indicate that quite a few people thought the whole venture to be some sort of outer-space vandalism. Some even wondered whether NASA might have acted illegally or violated an international law or treaty by setting out to “bomb the Moon” … The answer is no.

[T]oday the leading threat is to global communications and control of instruments crucial to economic and social systems, by means of weapons aimed against satellites. Nor does the threat necessarily require any specially designed weapon; satellites are horribly delicate and unprotected against kinetic force, and essentially anything with an engine and some maneuverability, including other satellites present for otherwise ordinary and nonthreatening uses, can create a threat to them. Think IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in space.