Archive for the ‘space’ Category

US urges Russia to consider missile offer

February 9, 2009

The United States wants to boost cooperation with Russia on short- and medium-range missiles, a senior NATO diplomat said Monday, after Washington signalled a review of its missile shield plans.

“The administration is making a renewed offer, to say we would like to work with Russia on missile defence and we hope that Russia is more willing to discuss that,” the diplomat said, on condition of anonymity.

He said Washington “genuinely wants to work with Russia on missile defence, believes that these threats, particularly the short- and medium-range ones, already exist.”

“We have a common interest with Russia in figuring out how to protect populations against these, we should be exploring how to do that,” he said.

The United States has been negotiating with Poland and the Czech Republic to install 10 missile interceptors, which would not carry explosive warheads, and a radar system on their territories.

The move has angered Russia as it sees the system as a threat to its security, while Washington argues the proposed shield is only directed at “rogue states,” primarily Iran.

Russia had threatened to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania, both NATO and EU members, if Washington did not halt its shield plans.

Laying out a vision of new US foreign policy Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden sought to reach out to Moscow, in a speech described by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov as positive.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Biden said the United States would only press ahead with its missile defence shield project “provided the technology is proven to work and cost effective.”

Nevertheless the NATO diplomat said President Barack Obama‘s administration was not shelving its plans, but that “it’s rather being prudent about the management of an expensive programme.”

“They want to take the time to do a review, to look at the test results, to make a judgement about the level of technological development,” he said.


Many Still Expect Obama To Surrender Missile Defense

February 9, 2009

Iran’s launch last week of a satellite using a homegrown rocket is another reminder of why Europe needs a missile defense — and needs to start building it now. Combine Iran’s improving missile technology with its nuclear aspirations, and it’s a lethal mix. This is especially timely given the debate inside the Obama Administration over whether to walk away from the U.S. promise to provide a defense shield for our European allies.

Wall Street Journal
Iran now joins eight countries with indigenous space-launch capability — an advance that, on the military side, translates into a step forward for its ballistic-missile technology. The threat isn’t immediate, as the satellite was small and lightweight compared to a nuclear warhead, but neither is Europe’s missile defense set to be deployed immediately. The reason to start early is precisely to be prepared, and not to have to scramble, if Iran develops its capability faster and the mullahs aren’t as benign as some think.

That’s why the Bush Administration pushed forward with a Europe-wide missile defense system to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic and built over the next six years. It’s also why every NATO country has endorsed the U.S.-led effort. They have done so twice — first among heads of state in Bucharest in April and again at a meeting of foreign ministers after the U.S. election. NATO also plans to pursue its own missile defenses in conjunction with the Polish and Czech sites.

The question now is whether the Obama Administration will stand by its predecessor’s promise or, as is widely anticipated, suspend the European program. On the campaign trail, Barack Obama suggested missile defense was either ineffective or too expensive, or both. His nominee for the third-ranking position at the Pentagon, Michele Flournoy, has indicated that the deployment plans for Europe will be reviewed. In a speech over the weekend at the annual Munich security conference, Vice President Joseph Biden was ambiguous: “We will continue to develop missile defenses to counter a growing Iranian capability, provided the technology is proven to work and cost effective.”

Suspending the program would have serious consequences. It would send a signal of American weakness to Iran, which the Obama Administration says it wishes to engage….

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[Review & Outlook] 
Photo: AP

Iran Boasts of Nuclear, Space Progress Despite Sanctions

February 7, 2009

Iran has achieved breakthroughs in nuclear and space technology despite international sanctions against it, the country’s top leader said Saturday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told military commanders that instead of weakening Iran, sanctions by the U.S., the U.N. and others have forced it to become more self-reliant, leading to greater strides by Iranian scientists and to technological advancements unseen in the country’s history.

Iranian leaders often boast of technological progress as they seek to assure their people that sanctions and isolation have not hurt the country, even as unemployment and inflation increase.

Most recently, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Tuesday the launch of Iran’s first domestically produced satellite. He faces a tough re-election battle this year, not least because of the economic woes brought on by falling oil prices and sanctions.

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

The United States imposed sanctions against Iran soon after its 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought hard-line clerics to power. The sanctions banned the export of any dual-use technology, including nuclear, space and missile equipment. Over the years, Washington has tightened sanctions against any investment in Iran.

Since 2006, Iran has also been under U.N. Security Council sanctions, applied to its nuclear and missile industries, for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants or the material for atomic bombs.

The United States and some of its allies have accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charge, saying its nuclear program is geared towards generating electricity, not weapons production.

Vice President Joe Biden told a security conference in Germany that the U.S. was willing to talk to Iran but would act to isolate and pressure the country if it does not scrap parts of its nuclear program.

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Iran launches first satellite

February 3, 2009

Iran’s missile, technology space and weapons effort has been going since the late 1980s.  We know they have a nuclear program, and long range ballistic missile capability.  This is their first sucessful satellite launch.  North Korea has nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles much like that seen in Iran, but North Korea has failed in its satellite launch attempts….


Iran has launched its first domestically built satellite into space.

The launch of the Omid satellite, meaning Hope, was timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution and United Nations talks aimed at stopping Iran’s nuclear programme.

The Telegraph (UK)

The Safir (ambassador) satellite-carrier rocket, carrying Iran's ... 
The Safir (ambassador) satellite-carrier rocket, carrying Iran’s Omid 2 (hope) satellite, is launched at an unknown location in Iran in this handout picture sent to Reuters by Iranian Fars News February 3, 2009. Iran said it launched its first domestically made satellite into orbit on Tuesday, boasting major progress in its space technology when tension with the West over its nuclear ambitions persists. Omid, launched as Iran marks the 30th anniversary this month of the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed shah, is designed for research and telecommunications, state television said.(Fars News/Reuters)

“Dear Iranians, your children have put the first indigenous satellite into orbit,” said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a broadcast on state television.

“With this launch the Islamic Republic of Iran has officially achieved a presence in space.”

The launch has highlighted international concerns that Iran will use domestically developed space technology to develop intercontinental nuclear missiles.

Tehran is at odds with the international community and the UN over a controversial nuclear programme which Iran has insisted is only for peaceful energy purposes.

The United States and European Union suspect that Iran is secretly developing atomic weapons and harbours ambitions to use its home grown Safir space rocket technology to build long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Omid’s take off comes just a one day before senior diplomats from the UN Security Council meet in Germany to discuss Iran’s refusal to stop uranium enrichment as part of its nuclear programme.

Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran’s foreign minister, used the occasion of the satellite launch to criticise Western and UN anti-atomic weapons proliferation embargoes on nuclear and space technology.

Reported satellite launch took place on the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran.

Reported satellite launch took place on the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran.

“The difference between our country and some countries which have these capacities is that we believe science belongs to all humanity,” he said.

“Some people believe that advanced technologies belong to some countries exclusively.”

Mr Mottaki added: “In Iran’s history, in the last 100 years, you cannot point to aggression by Iran against any nation. Iran’s people are peace-loving they want peace with all countries around the world.”

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Satellite and space weapon dilemma

 Obama seeks space weapons ban

U.S. In Major New Space Race; Like It Or Not
North Korea to ‘Test Missile Capable of Striking U.S.’

A U.S. defense official told CNN’s Barbara Starr that the Pentagon detected an Iranian ballistic missile launch on Monday which was apparently delivering a satellite into orbit.

From CNN:

Satellite and space weapon dilemma

January 30, 2009

The column I began writing at 7 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, addressed the American military’s reliance on satellites and issues involving “a potential arms race in space.” Of course, by 9 a.m., space militarization became less pressing, as al Qaeda turned jumbo jets into ballistic missiles and murdered 3,000 innocents.

By Ausin Bay
The Washington Times

When China tested an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon in January 2007, I considered resurrecting the column, but America‘s “surge” in Iraq shoved outer space aside.

The Obama administration has revived the subject – after a fashion. Check the White House Web site on the page detailing defense-related campaign promises. The new administration opposes “weaponizing space” and will “restore American leadership on space issues. …” Restoration means seeking “a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites” and includes “thoroughly” assessing “possible threats to U.S. space assets and the best options, military and diplomatic, for countering them. …” President Obama promises to accelerate “programs to harden U.S. satellites against attack.”

Though the fervent language implicitly suggests this is a dramatic change from the Bush administration, it actually echoes Maj. Gen. James Armor’s congressional testimony of May 2007 during hearings investigating the implications of China’s anti-satellite test. The hearings were the unclassified component of a thorough assessment of a real threat to U.S. space assets, the Chinese ASAT, and a public example of U.S. leadership on space issues.

Gen. Armor (director of the Pentagon’s National Security Space Office) noted that changes in U.S. space policy since the Eisenhower administration “have been evolutionary” (i.e., have changed, based on experience), but “the key tenets have remained remarkably consistent. One such tenet is the compelling need for a strong national security space sector and the inherent right of self-defense to protect U.S. national interests in space.” Yet U.S. space policy, Gen. Armor argued, is “based on a longstanding U.S. commitment to peaceful uses of outer space. …”

Advertising execs know touting laundry soap as “new” or “improved” increases sales, though the “new” product differs little from the old. From Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush, administrations have had to balance the “peaceful use” of space against evolving technological threats to its peaceful use. The same dilemma confronts Mr. Obama and will vex his successor, as well.

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Obama seeks space weapons ban

January 26, 2009

President Barack Obama‘s pledge to seek a worldwide ban on weapons in space marks a dramatic shift in U.S. policy while posing the tricky issue of defining whether a satellite can be a weapon.

Moments after Obama’s inauguration last week, the White House website was updated to include policy statements on a range of issues, including a pledge to restore U.S. leadership on space issues and seek a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites.

By Andrea Shalal-Esa – Analysis


It also promised to look at threats to U.S. satellites, contingency plans to keep information flowing from them, and what steps are needed to protect spacecraft against attack.


The issue is being closely watched by Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, the biggest U.S. defense contractors, and other companies involved in military and civilian space contracts.


Watchdog groups and even some defense officials welcomed the statement, which echoed Obama’s campaign promises, but said it would take time to hammer out a comprehensive new strategy.


Enacting a global ban on space weapons could prove even harder.

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Obama Picks Air Force General as NASA Head

January 15, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama’s made his pick for NASA head — a decorated military man, according to several reports.

Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Jonathan Scott Gration, who uses his middle name, is a career Air Force man who’s logged nearly 1,000 hours of combat flight time and been awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Medal, among many other awards.

Fox News

The son of missionaries, he was raised in Africa and speaks Swahili.

Reports said an official announcement would be forthcoming Wednesday. The Obama transition team refused’s requests to comment on the reports.

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This undated US Department of the Air Force handout photo shows ... 
This undated US Department of the Air Force handout photo shows Maj. Gen. Jonathan S. Gration. Gration, a retired Air Force major general, could soon be heading up the US space agency after being tapped by president-elect Barack Obama to take over the helm of NASA, a transition team source said Wednesday.(AFP/HO NASA/File/Ho)

U.S. In Major New Space Race; Like It Or Not

January 13, 2009

Unlike the Cold War competition to put a man on the moon, the Obama administration faces a different kind of space race, with broader scientific, national-security and business implications.

A report released Monday by an industry group emphasizes those challenges, and warns that sweeping policy, budget and institutional changes are necessary to protect what it called America’s “perishable” lead in satellites, rockets and space exploration.

The study by the Aerospace Industries Association, which includes large firms such as Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., as well as numerous midsize contractors, is part of an effort to highlight how the U.S.’s priorities need to adapt to a changing reality in which more countries are pushing into space for political and industrial reasons.

By Andy Pasztor
The Wall Street Journal

While the U.S. government spends an estimated $100 billion annually on space efforts, far more than any other country, China, India, Japan, Russia and the European Union have all stepped up spending and are catching up in technical prowess.

“In a very real sense, the ‘space race’ is far from over,” said Marion Blakey, the association’s president and chief executive. “We might not be racing, but our global competitors certainly are.”

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Above: Chinese astronauts.  The Chinese government has spent billions of dollars in recent years building up a space program that it hopes will help China establish a space station by 2020.  Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

Obama Plans Moves to Counter China in Space

January 2, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama will probably tear down long-standing barriers between the U.S.’s civilian and military space programs to speed up a mission to the moon amid the prospect of a new space race with China.

Obama’s transition team is considering a collaboration between the Defense Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration because military rockets may be cheaper and ready sooner than the space agency’s planned launch vehicle, which isn’t slated to fly until 2015, according to people who’ve discussed the idea with the Obama team.

The potential change comes as Pentagon concerns are rising over China’s space ambitions because of what is perceived as an eventual threat to U.S. defense satellites, the lofty battlefield eyes of the military.

The launch of Change 1, Xichang Satellite Center, China.jpg
Above: A China space launch

“The Obama administration will have all those issues on the table,” said Neal Lane, who served as President Bill Clinton’s science adviser and wrote recently that Obama must make early decisions critical to retaining U.S. space dominance. “The foreign affairs and national security implications have to be considered.”

China, which destroyed one of its aging satellites in a surprise missile test in 2007, is making strides in its spaceflight program. The military-run effort carried out a first spacewalk in September and aims to land a robotic rover on the moon in 2012, with a human mission several years later.

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India’s Singh hails ally Russia as nuclear, space deals signed

December 6, 2008

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed a landmark nuclear deal signed with Russia on Friday as a “milestone in the history of our cooperation” after meeting here with President Dmitry Medvedev.

The allies also finalised an accord that could see New Delhi send a man and eventually its own manned craft into space, with the Indian premier describing ties with Moscow as a “vital anchor of our foreign policy.”

“It is a relationship that has stood the test of time, a relationship based on strong mutual trust,” Singh said alongside Medvedev after the signing ceremonies.

Medvedev praised the agreements as opening a “new page” in relations. He was to leave New Delhi later Friday, earlier than scheduled, to join the mourning for the death of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, his spokeswoman said.

The nuclear deal was the third such agreement India has signed after a decision in September by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to waive its ban on trade of atomic technology with New Delhi.

by Stuart Williams, AFP

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and India's Prime ...

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L)  and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looks on at a new conference in New Delhi. Singh hailed a landmark nuclear deal signed with Russia on Friday as a “milestone in the history of our cooperation” after meeting here with Medvedev.


The United States and France are the other powers to have signed agreements with New Delhi but Russia remains so far the only state actively involved in building reactors in the country.

The nuclear deal will see the building of four new nuclear energy reactors in Kudankulam in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Moscow is already building two 1,000-megawatt light water reactors at the site. The value of the new deal was not given.

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