Further thoughts… space militarization benefits?

I want to very very very slightly reconsider something I said in my previous entry, opining about money going to the military industrial complex over the space program. Before NASA existed, space was the purview of the military. In the US, both the Army and the Air Force had their own space programs. But then the hippy movement was on the horizon and it was decided that space should be used peacefully and thus in 1958 NASA was formed as a civilian agency and the military grudgingly mothballed their internal programs, outsourcing spy satellites and so on to NASA. With them having spent the previous ten years feverishly taking over the Nazi aerospace momentum in secret, I have to wonder if space development might be further ahead if — and perhaps I’m wishing for a deal with the devil — the militarization of space had continued.

Everybody remembers and idolizes Kennedy’s “we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard” speech that dared to put America on the moon before 1970, but in 1958 when NASA was formed, the Air Force gave up on the Lunex Project, their own much more ambitious lunar program which planned on having a permanent underground lunar base initially staffed with 21 airmen by 1968, before Apollo was even able to do their first landing. Their planning had been in secret so I’m not sure if Kennedy even knew how close America already was to beating his proposed deadline — or perhaps this is why he could confidently predict it? Additionally, the Army of course had their own programs, including their own moon base — Project Horizon — which they figured would become operational in 1966 with a smaller staff of six soldiers initially. The Air Force projected that their project would cost $7.5 billion and the Army figured theirs would cost $6 billion. NASA struggles for every dollar. The Defense Department has never had this problem and had NASA not been formed, I’m convinced we would be much farther ahead.

That said, a lunar base is of dubious military value. Even other projects that were planned, for example hypersonic space planes and military space stations — mature programs that had been started in Germany in the 1930s absorbed via Operation Paperclip — capable of rapidly deploying troops anywhere in the world, would have questionable cost-benefit value in my opinion. But I think you could say the same of the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and incredible cruise missiles and ICBMs and other advanced delivery systems… Military technology is to a large extent a peacock’s game I think, so all a population that’s beholden to the military industrial complex like we have been this past century and in this one still, can do is hope for collateral scientific and technological benefits. Yes, a deal with the devil it would be, but I have trouble convincing myself that we wouldn’t be much farther ahead today if we’d built up a militarized space industry rather than a crippled civilian program that ended up getting almost completely scrapped as the money went into the Vietnam war and other military projects which have taken us nowhere…

Other than that, I had a nice evening. In order to give myself some more physical capability I took both my afternoon and night painkillers (this is permitted!) after getting Nefarious at school and we went on a long walk through the forest and then went down to the lake where we found a cast-off life preserver and added it to the playground. And I wonder about these structures built out of sticks and driftwood that dot the beach and the park forests… who builds them and what are they for? They can’t be shelters so I assume they are some sort of hobo art projects built to pass the time, but I’m not sure.

PS. That is me, not the hobo who built it. I know it’s hard to tell these days.

8 Comments

  1. rosie wrote:

    the structures look like the kind of thing you would do though… maybe you did it and can’t remember!

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Permalink
  2. Vanessa wrote:

    There are many of those structures in the woods near us (UK). They’re dens made by kids. They move from tree to tree as the children take the sticks to build their own personal, but identical, dens against another tree!

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink
  3. Sean wrote:

    It’s a fort! We used to build stuff like that all the time when I was a kid. And then again when I was a teenager – but those were a bit bigger and had less gaps for smoking weed without prying eyes.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink
  4. Opiate wrote:

    Kids and teenagers? Man, I’m 30, and I still build those things on the beach.. lol

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  5. Zandelion wrote:

    Funny timing on the subject of the militarization of space, as I am currently reading Philip K Dick’s The Man in The High Castle.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  6. Blandrea wrote:

    In the woods around central NY you find such things created by local college art students. There must be an art in nature focus

    Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 3:40 am | Permalink
  7. ANdy wrote:

    Ha! I’m glad you mentioned the hobo in that pic cuz I was gonna if you didn’t :-P

    Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  8. oni wrote:

    i build those too. this is the biggest one i ever built, from 2006. it was taller than a very tall man with a short man on his shoulders.

    http://firlefanzgallery.com/wildnaomi.jpg

    Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 2:52 am | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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