Space Expert Proposes U.S. Space Force Have the Mission for Planetary Defense against Asteroids
June 1, 2020 (EIRNS)—The White House National Space Council recently announced plans to update the country’s National Space Policy for the first time in a decade. As part of that review, why not make the defense of planet Earth from the asteroid threat part of the mission of the U.S. Space Force? That is, in fact, proposed by Peter Garretson, a senior fellow in Defense Studies with the American Foreign Policy Council and a strategy consultant who focuses on space and defense, in an op-ed published in The Hill today.
“The Space Force already cooperates with NASA to map the asteroid threat, and already bears primary responsibility for space situational awareness and space control in the service of homeland defense,” Garretson writes.
“Planetary defense is quite obviously a defense mission, and it’s therefore natural that the Space Force should have primary responsibility.
“The need is urgent. Few threats are as catastrophic as an asteroid or comet collision. Large impacts could—as happened to the dinosaurs—cause a global mass extinction and end human civilization. Smaller impacts could be powerful enough to destroy entire cities or entire regions. Even the smallest impacts could be mistaken for a nuclear first strike and potentially set off a nuclear war by accident,”
Garretson continues, Congress should codify in the next National Defense Authorization Act Space Force’s responsibility for the asteroid defense mission.
“The U.S. Space Force should be tasked to organize, train, equip and present the necessary units and capabilities to surveil, detect, and respond to an asteroid or comet threat.... U.S. Space Command should be tasked to plan, execute, and develop requirements for a deflection campaign, while NASA and the Department of Energy should continue to support this mission through science and technology.”
The benefits for doing so would be broad, Garretson argues, to include pushing Space Force and the country at large into enhancing space-faring capabilities.
“Planetary defense is a demanding mission, one requiring exquisite space domain awareness and advanced propulsion capabilities. Developing those technologies will improve Space Force capabilities, but it will also have important spillover effects that will catapult the United States into a position to exploit the emerging trillion-dollar space economy.”
Missing from Garretson’s proposal is international cooperation. After all, the planetary defense against asteroids is a mission for the entire world, and cannot be owned by one nation alone. Giving Space Force that mission must also open the door to expanded cooperation in space among all of the nations of the world.