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On the Edge of Earth

The Future of American Space Power

Steven Lambakis

Publication Year: 2014

" The United States has long exploited Earth's orbits to enhance security, generate wealth, and solidify its position as a world leader. America's ambivalence toward military activities in space, however, has the potential to undermine our future security. Many in Washington possess a peculiar regard for space and warfare. Some perceive space as a place to defend and fight for America's vital interests. Others -- whose voices are frequently dominant and manifested in public rhetoric, funded defense programs, international diplomacy, and treaty commitments -- look upon space as a preserve not to be despoiled by earthly strife. After forty years of discussion, the debate over America's role in space rages on. In light of the steady increase in international satellite activity for commercial and military purposes, American's vacillation on this issue could begin to pose a real threat to our national security. Steven Lambakis argues that this policy dysfunction will eventually manifest itself in diminished international political leverage, the forfeiture of technological advances, and the squandering of valuable financial resources. Lambakis reviews key political, military, and business developments in space over the past four decades. Emphasizing that we should not take our unobstructed and unlimited access to space for granted, he identifies potential space threats and policy flaws and proposes steps to meet national security demands for the twenty-first century.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-6

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pp. 7-10

...2. Space and International Security Affairs: What Role Does Space 3. Evolution of a Space Power: What Are the Implications of the 4. Survival in the Twenty-first Century: Is There a Credible Threat to ...

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pp. ix-xii

This book would not have been possible without the assistance of the Smith Richardson Foundation. My appreciation to the people of Smith Richardson who saw a compelling need to produce this book and who elected to throw their trust and support behind me is beyond measure. The foundation's generous sponsor ship allowed me to devote considerable time over a period of two years to explore ...

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pp. 1-2

On the Edge of Earth: The Future of American Space Power addresses major short comings in the defense space policy of the United States and offers recommenda tions to those who make, influence, and study national security decisions. Its comprehensiveness, references to American political traditions, attention to mili tary and space history, and focus on policy-level considerations distinguish it from ...

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Part 1: The Vital Force

To call something "vital" is to underscore its indispensability. Vital implies life and that which is necessary to survival. It also suggests an alternative state: mortality and the absence of that which is necessary to sustain life. Although man's (or a nation's) physical survival does not hinge on activities in space, our lives are nev ertheless tethered, sometimes imperceptibly so, to objects orbiting Earth. Space ...

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1. In Space Is Our Trust: How and Why Does Space Impact the United States?

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pp. 5-38

Space is America's passion. As an endless and virtually unexplored frontier, acces sible only once we have availed ourselves of our collective technological and engi neering genius, space also is a truly American passion. Satellites, the flowers of our obsession, have spawned a global social revolution, affecting how we think and go about our daily business, entertain ourselves, and relate at home and abroad to ...

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2. Space and International Security Affairs: What Role Does Space Play in International Relations?

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pp. 39-71

The systems supporting the exercise of military power help distinguish peace and war in any age.1 Much as we could not recognize twentieth-century world politics absent a consideration of nuclear weapons or the rise of air power, explaining the decline of the western Roman Empire in the first centuries of the first millennium would make less sense without recognizing the central role cavalry played in the ...

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3. Evolution of a Space Power: What Are the Implications of the Space Revolution for U.S. Military Strategy?

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pp. 72-108

This chapter identifies the United States' motivations for exploiting space for of fensive and defensive purposes and draws linkages between the multiple uses of space and U.S. military success. In addition, it asks this basic question: What else could space do for American security? Whether space should remain a sanctuary, an isolated environment where governments may find perpetual peace, or whether ...

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Part 2: In the Arena

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pp. 109-111

Part 2 of this book is a "reality check," a no-holds-barred examination of the ex ternal limitations and constraints that may be placed on U.S. space activities de scribed in part 1. In defense language, this portion of the book addresses the broad and sometimes ambiguous subject of space threats. Objectivity in this analysis is crucial, and I have made every effort to deal evenhandedly with the facts, all of ...

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4. Survival in the Twenty-first Century: Is There a Credible Threat to U.S. Space Systems?

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pp. 112-141

Simple mathematics can demonstrate what otherwise might be clouded by more sophisticated defense analysis. Although not nearly the final word on this subject, numbers do talk. The space budgets of NASA and the Department of Defense have gone from 1959 levels of $1,266 billion and $2,377 billion, respectively, to 1998 levels of $12,321 billion and $12,359 billion (fiscal year 1998 constant dol ...

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5. The Shattered Sanctum: How Might Space Be Used against the United States?

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pp. 142-174

The twentieth century is notable in history for the United States' rise to world leadership, economic dominance, and military preeminence. Paradoxically, tech nological developments in that same century also tempered U.S. strategic leverage by creating new vulnerabilities, for no longer could Americans rest blissfully be hind shelters propped up by distance and supported by the surrounding seas. ...

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6. The Pitfalls of Arrogance and the Limits of Military Power: How Might a Technologically Inferior Adversary Gain an Advantage?

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pp. 175-204

Threats from enemies that think in unorthodox ways and employ unconventional weapons have surfaced lately in defense lexicons and analyses. Such threats, com monly referred to as "asymmetric," are as old as warfare itself. Said Sun Tzu in The Art of War (c. 500 B.C.), a manuscript discovered in the West only in the late eigh teenth century, "As flowing water avoids the heights and hastens to the low lands, ...

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Part 3: Confronting Janus

The divergent set of policy visions for space is the heart and soul of the national quandary over defense space matters, despite the impression one might glean from the "National" Space Policy. Janus, the two-faced god of Roman mythology, is a wonderfully apt metaphorical tool that may be used to illustrate our national dys Much like Janus, the United States' defense space policy continues a tradition ...

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7. National Defense Space Policy: How Has Policy Evolved since Eisenhower?

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pp. 207-235

The United States' defense space policy, handed down from president to presi dent, from generation to generation, has exhibited remarkable stability over the past four decades, primarily with respect to national goals. Although there is much to be said for stability, balance, and continuity in a policy regime, one should not discount the degree to which familiarity and continuity breed a very unhelpful ...

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8. Freedom of Space and the Defect of Present Policy: Why Is the United States Unprepared for Its Military Future in Space?

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pp. 236-271

Freedom of space, a principle seated deeply in the psyche of the American people, remains a critical element of the national security strategy. Decades of prosperity and security at home cause many Americans to take for granted their freedom to explore and move about the world, to engage the rest of the world at all levels of interaction?economic, commercial, diplomatic, and military?on the land and ...

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9. Putting on a New Face: Maturing the United States' Policy Vision

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pp. 272-296

Both of the United States' policy faces have blemishes. The defect of the one is the conscious decision to remain disinterested or unconvinced of the need to shape national involvement in space as it concerns engagement with potential enemies. The defect of the other is its conviction that space is an alien environment that can and must be kept free of the more discordant activities that take place on Earth. ...

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Appendix: Elementary Descriptions of Orbits

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pp. 297-302

Satellites achieve Earth orbit by being propelled beyond the atmosphere at about 17,000 miles per hour, a velocity that counteracts the force of gravity. At that speed, the earth recedes from the satellite at the same speed that the earth's gravity pulls the satellite toward it. In orbit, the satellite follows a circular or elliptical path The properties of orbits can vary greatly. Altitude, inclination, eccentricity, ...

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pp. 303-353

...1. According to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Robert L. Mallett, space activities involve some of the most important elements of "our high technology future," including software development, microchip technologies, sophisticated electronics, telecommunica tions, satellite manufacturing, advanced materials and composites, and launch technologies. Robert L. Mallett, "Next Economic Frontier," Space News, April 20-26,1998,15.2. Institute ...


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pp. 354-366

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Image Plates

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pp. 381-396

...pseudoscience of rocketry into a respectable discipline of systematized knowledge and laid the technological foundation for today's satellite launch vehicles and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Unless noted Picture 5: From right to left, Von Braun, James van Allen, and William Pickering (director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) celebrate the ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813145778
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813121987

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2014