The Federal government wants to nationalize another American private industry, this one nascent rather than burgeoning. The State Department wants to classify privately owned and operated manned space vehicles as weapons and then to control these as such.
In a proposed Amendment to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (recall that Secretary of State John Kerry says in all seriousness that the US will sign the just concluded international arms control “treaty”), State insists pretty much that anything that flies into space must be a weapon, and so cannot be allowed to leave the United States government’s control. The immediate effect will be to hinder, if not destroy, a budding space tourism industry, an industry that has such serious enterprises as Virgin Space, Xcor, and SpaceX, as major players.
Here’s the money part of the proposed amendment:
§ 121.1 General. The United States Munitions List.
* * * * *
Category XV—Spacecraft Systems and Related Articles
(a) Spacecraft, including satellites, manned or unmanned space vehicles, whether designated developmental, experimental, research or scientific, or having a commercial, civil, or military end-use, that
(4) Provide space-based logistics, assembly or servicing of any spacecraft (e.g., refueling);
*(7) Have any of the following electrooptical remote sensing capabilities or characteristics:
(i) Electro-optical visible and near infrared (VNIR) (i.e., 400nm to 1,000nm) or infrared (i.e., greater than 1,000nm to 30,000nm) with less than 40 spectral bands having an aperture greater than 0.35 meters;
(ii) Electro-optical hyperspectral with 40 spectral bands or more in the VNIR, short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) (i.e., greater than 1,000nm to 2,500nm) or any combination of the aforementioned and having a Ground Sample Distance (GSD) less than 30 meters;
(iii) Electro-optical hyperspectral with 40 spectral bands or more in the midwavelength infrared (MWIR) (i.e., greater than 2,500nm to 5,500nm) having a narrow spectral bandwidth of Dl less than or equal to 20nm full width at half maximum (FWHM) or having a wide spectral bandwidth with Dl greater than 20nm FWHM and a GSD less than 200 meters; or
(iv) Electro-optical hyperspectral with 40 spectral bands or more in the longwavelength infrared (LWIR) (i.e., greater than 5,500nm to 30,000nm) having a narrow spectral bandwidth of Dl less than or equal to 50nm FWHM or having a wide spectral bandwidth with Dl greater than 50nm FWHM and a GSD less than 500 meters;
*(8) Have radar remote sensing capabilities or characteristics (e.g., active electronically scanned array (AESA), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR), ultra-wideband SAR) except those having a center frequency equal to or greater than 1 GHz but less than or equal to 10 GHz AND having a bandwidth less than 300 MHz;
(9) Provide Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT);
(7) Non-communications space qualified directed energy (e.g., lasers or RF) systems
(9) “Space-qualified’” cesium, rubidium, hydrogen maser, or quantum
(e.g., based upon Al, Hg, Yb, Sr, Be Ions) atomic clocks, and specially designed parts and components therefor….
Notice that: any commercial enterprise that looks to maintain its commercial systems in space (e.g., repair or refuel a satellite, an orbiting space station, or later a mining station) can’t do so—the maintenance support vehicles would be weapons.
Any commercial enterprise that wants to equip its space vehicles, satellites, orbiting space station(s), or those future mining station(s) with sensing equipment so as to have advanced warning of approaching debris can’t have those sensors—they’re weapons.
Any commercial enterprise that wants to equip its space vehicles, satellites, orbiting space station(s), or those future mining station(s) with navigation equipment or clocks so those systems can know where they are and where they are going can’t have those nav systems—they’re weapons.
Any commercial enterprise that wants to mine the solar system (asteroids, comets, planetary moons, what-have-you) or destroy any approaching debris before collision can’t have the lasers with which to do so—mining and colliding debris destruction are weapons-centered efforts.
This overreach by this administration has to be stopped. The power grab, even in the age of nationalized health industry and government diktats for the financial industry, is atrocious.