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Moon and Mars for U.S. Privatization?

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From the radio newsmagazine
Between The Lines
http://www.btlonline.org
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Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release Jan. 26, 2003
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White House Moon and Mars Exploration Initiative Masks Drive for Military Dominance of Space

Interview with Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

Listen in RealAudio: http://www.btlonline.org/gagnon013004.ram

Last week, President Bush announced his goal of sending Americans back to the moon by 2020 and then on to Mars. He promised only $1 billion in new funds for the project over the next five years, saying $11 billion in that period will come from a redeployment of money already allocated to NASA, the U.S. space agency. While some see this as a political move by Bush to sound Kennedy-esque as his campaign for re-election gears up, others foresee a scenario unfolding that could boost the fortunes of the controversial "Star Wars" anti-missile defense system, as the U.S. seeks to extend its superpower status into space.

Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. Gagnon has worked on space issues for the past 19 years and was organizer of the Cancel Cassini Campaign, an effort to stop the launch of 72 pounds of plutonium into space onboard a satellite in 1997. Though ultimately unsuccessful, the campaign attracted worldwide attention and support.

Gagnon discusses the Bush administration's space proposal, how much it will likely cost, where the funds will come from and who stands to profit. He also lays out his hope for the world community to take space exploration in a different direction.

Bruce Gagnon: I think it’s part of a long, long-time plan to begin to build the infrastructure to use space to control the earth and then ultimately to create a 50-year, 100-year plan to control the shipping lanes between the earth and planetary bodies. There’s a plan to actually mine the skies. They’ve discovered gold on the asteroids. On Mars, there’s magnesium and cobalt and uranium. That little rover driving around Mars today, it’s not looking for the origins of life like we’re told; they’re doing soil identification and they’re trying to identify what is where on that planet. There’s helium-3 on the moon. In fact, there’s a New York Times story where they say that it will replace fossil fuels when they are gone on the earth, and helium-3 will be used for fusion reactors. Coincidentally, the U.S. never signed the 1979 Moon Treaty that outlaws permanent bases on the moon, military bases, and most importantly, says that no country or corporation or individual can claim ownership of the moon. The U.S. didn’t sign that treaty because we’ve always intended to have military bases on the moon. I have a copy of a secret Army study from 1952 that says the U.S. has to control the moon. They long ago realized that whoever controls the moon actually will be able essentially to control the pathway on and off the planet Earth ? they call it the earth-moon gravity well; whoever is at the top of the well will control who can get on and off the planet. And a congressional study in 1989 entitled, “Military Space Forces: the Next 50 Years,” stated that with our bases on the moon, we would be able to hijack rival shipments upon return, so that if anyone else tried to mine the sky but they weren’t authorized, we would be able to take them out on the way back.

Between The Lines: Is the money, then, going to come in the future, because it seems like a very modest proposal right now.

Bruce Gagnon: The first thing they’re going to do is to close down the international space station and the shuttle program, and move that money in, so that’s still a lot of money. But once they get the commitment from Congress that yes, we’re going to go forward with this, it’s institutionalized in the budget, then the real bucks are going to kick in. The estimates for the collective costs of these Mars missions and moon missions is about $750 billion over time. Well, this is a massive, massive flow of funds into the aerospace corporation coffers, at the same time, remember, that they’ve also come out with, about a year ago -- the Bush administration did -- the Nuclear Systems Initiative, a $3 billion, five-year program to develop Project Prometheus, the nuclear rocket with nuclear reactors for engines, and other nuclear technologies. Those little rovers that are driving around Mars today are powered with plutonium. They are talking about having nuclear powered mining colonies on the moon and Mars. So all these… increasing the number of launches with nuclear materials on rockets with ten percent failure rates is going to ensure that sooner or later there will be a nuclear accident at the time of launch.

There was an editorial in one of the industry publications called Space News awhile back, and the title was “Mars missions are affordable.” And Space News went on to say, “Look, we know that this stuff is going to be expensive, but we have a solution to the funding problem. Our solution, and what we’re going to work towards, is shutting down the entitlement programs and moving the money into the space projects."

Now, what are these entitlement programs that Space News was talking about? Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and what’s left of the welfare program today. So after the taxpayers would have paid all the years of research and development, in the hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars, when the day comes that they can actually turn profit mining the skies, in the future, what they’re going to do, and NASA has already said, they’re going to privatize everything, turn it over to the corporations who will make the money. And in fact there’s legislation pending in Congress now to make all profits in space tax-exempt.

Between The Lines: Do you see any value in space travel, in space exploration done a certain way?

Bruce Gagnon: I’m not opposed to space exploration in general. I think we all have that curiosity about what’s out there, and I think it’s something that we as a planet, should over time, be expected that we’re going to want to pursue. But I think when it comes at the cost of our own life here on this planet, when it comes at the cost of our children’s education, our health care, and cleaning up our own planet -- those things should come first. And then we do move off this planet, I think we really need to have a collective understanding on earth: What kind of seed we will carry with us when we go into the heavens? Will it be this bad seed of war and greed and environmental degradation, or will it be a different kind of seed, a more positive seed. And I think right now is the time to debate this question globally. And that’s the work of our organization, to create a global consciousness and a global constituency, around this question: What kind of seed should our space program carry?

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. His group can be reached at (207) 729-0517 or visit their website at http://www.space4peace.org

Related links on our website at http://www.btlonline.org/btl013004.html#2hed for week ending 1/30/04

- "Bush's Space Odyssey"

- "Successful Missile Defense Weapons Test Boosts Bush Drive to Deploy Treaty-Busting Star Wars System"

- "President Bush's Plan to Deploy Star Wars System Will Launch New Global Nuclear Arms Race"

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Melinda Tuhus is a producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on over 35 radio stations. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines ( http://www.btlonline.org), for the week ending Jan. 30, 2004. This week's Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Melinda Tuhus and Anna Manzo.

PRINT INFORMATION: For reprint permission, please email betweenthelines@snet.net.

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