The United States of America is THE dominant space power in the world. We have developed more different space rockets than any country, have launched more successful satellites to Mars, very hard to do, and have developed the most complex satellites in the world. This is why the 21st century has almost entirely been invented in the United States and with what we know, and can do, we continue to preserve our PAX Americana stopping any large military force from attacking the United States or their allies.
Imagine a civilian world without: digital maps, global internet, real time cable tv, accurate weather reports, high speed logistics, self-driving cars and the lowest number of nuclear weapons since 1965.
Imagine a civilian world with more: airline accidents, pollution, expensive agriculture, weather related deaths, slower airline flights, expensive commodities, expensive infrastructure and expensive government.
These two scenarios are what we would be living with were it not for US commercial space technology.
What we have invented with the speed of computers, space sensors, space transmitters and ubiquitous communications transmitted through space has grown the entire business world exponentially. Manufacturing has moved around the world to lower labor costs, intelligent people have been hired globally and focused on business issues that have grown companies at speeds never before seen in the history of the world. The experts in all of this speed are all in the United States of America.
The result: a stunning growth of real Gross Domestic Product, GDP. In 1969, the year we landed on the moon, real GDP was $4.9 trillion and it grew to $18 trillion by 2017 (Data from BEA National Income and Product Accounts Tables). If the growth were strictly due to population, the current real GDP would be around $7.9 trillion. At the same time, we are No. 1 in per capita GDP among the top 10 global economies and our culture, and success, captivates the world so much that millions are attempting to enter our country, legally and illegally.
The backbone of this financial and technical revolution is our commercial space infrastructure: communications satellites, navigation satellites, imagery reconnaissance satellites, weather satellites and commercial rockets so radical, even NASA and the US military are running to catch up.
Without this incredible commercial space infrastructure, we would not be the No. 1 financial and business engine of the world.
All of this speed is gone with the flash of two nuclear weapons in space.
Two large nuclear explosions with their electro-magnetic pulse (EMP), one on each side of the earth, eliminates our entire backbone of success. Every single commercial spacecraft would be fried on orbit. Our communications would slow down drastically. Our global TV would cease. Our navigation grid might crash and we could lose aircraft in flight and it could take weeks or months to get regularly scheduled flights back into the air. Commercial weather for construction projects would cease and construction projects would be significantly slowed with expanding costs. Floods, rain, hurricanes and tornado predictions would be severely degraded. Thousands may die without the warnings. Our ability to schedule and deliver logistics globally would be delayed so significantly that the cost of all manufactured goods would go up dramatically and would require realignment of global manufacturing.
One nuclear weapon launched through space and exploded in New York, Washington, D.C., or Los Angeles does the same. Where are we without the center of the business world, the center of the political world, or the center of entertainment?
A coordinated cyberattack of the USA and its infrastructure would have the same impact as a nuclear weapon. Again, where are we without a modern internet-based world?
Space is vital for our national security and our commercial well-being.
Currently, the Army, Air Force and Navy are all working in Space and Cyberspace balancing budgets which include budgets for these three missions: missile defense from space nuclear detonation, missile defense from surface nuclear detonation and cyberwarfare.
The Army is also fighting for budgets for increased air defense and increased longer distance missiles, the Air Force for their new F-35 fighter and B-21 bomber and the Navy for F-35s and maintaining their fleet. Each of these services needs to focus on their respective basic missions.
We don’t want organizations with split priorities and leadership without the requisite space background to make these very strategic budget decisions that affect the backbone of our society. We need an organization that focuses on Space.
We need a Space Force.
With a budget between $100 and $150 billion per year, we could protect what we have. This would be roughly a 0.83% investment of our GDP per year. This budget would allow our Space Force to dedicate themselves to supporting our commercial, civil and military needs of space. We can’t afford to lose the backbone of our economy and our lifestyle.
It’s America First.
Jess Sponable contributed to this column.