I really enjoyed my time at Soul Food Books in Redmond yesterday. Frankly I'd never heard of Redmond before, but it turns out to be the community where Microsoft Corp. employs 30,000 people just outside of Seattle.
I sat on a chair on the stage after one of the owners and another man played a couple of songs to warm things us. Most of the chairs in the room were filled and I saw people throughout the book store/coffee shop/community center listening and that included both guys working behind the counter who each had a question during the Q & A.
Sarah, the other co-owner, told a heart warming story when she introduced me. As it turns out she grew up in Idaho and was just a small kid in 1997 when NASA launched the Cassini space probe with deadly plutonium on-board. Her father was supporting our opposition to the launch and that is how she knew about it. But she was most worried about ET getting home safely. She had just seen the movie ET and was terribly concerned that the Cassini launch would knock out ET's rescue mission. Her father though told her not to worry because the good folks opposing the Cassini launch would not let anything happen to ET. Just goes to show that you never know how far and wide these campaigns we organize can travel.
I get tired of doing the same talk day after day so yesterday was an example of how I switch things up depending on the local situation. After hearing Sarah's amazing story I began by talking about our Cassini campaign and I focused on NASA's own Environmental Impact Statement that said if there was a worst case launch accident and release of the toxic plutonium that they'd have to remove all the people within a 60-mile radius. Then they'd have to go back in and remove all the buildings, the vegetation, the animals, and finally the top 1/2 inch of soil because everything would be radioactive for thousands of years.
Imagine then a host of these launches in the coming years as the nuclear industry puts nuclear powered mining colonies on the Moon. Mars, and asteroids. The aerospace industry intends to carry this bad seed of war, greed, and environmental degradation into the heavens.
The New York Times
ran a story this past week that "a company called Planetary Resources Inc. will unveil its plans to
mine asteroids that zip close by Earth, both to provide supplies for
future interplanetary travelers and to bring back precious metals such
as platinum. The venture may sound far-fetched, but it has already
attracted some big-name investors, including Larry Page and Eric Schmidt
of Google, as well as profitable technology development contracts."
International space law (United Nations Moon Treaty and Outer Space Treaty) currently maintain that no country, no corporation, nor individual can claim ownership of any planetary body. Thus these "start up" companies hoping to claim the rights to mine the sky must first re-write present space law and their lawyers are working on doing just that.
The reason international space law was created was to try to prevent the mad rush to control space resources that would inevitably lead to conflicts. Just like after Columbus "discovered" the new world, all the European sea powers were soon cutting each others throats trying to control the resources and markets that were then available. Without some kind of law to prevent such a "gold rush" the same thing will happen again in space.
One of the jobs of the Pentagon's Space Command in the coming years will be to create a militarized highway between the Earth and the planetary bodies so that the military industrial complex can control who gets into space and who does not.
In the 1989 report to Congress called Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years
congressional staffer John Collins suggested that with military forces controlling the "Earth-Moon gravity well" that the U.S. would be able to "hijack rival shipments upon return" thus allowing complete control and domination of space.
After years of taxpayer investment in NASA's space technology infrastructure Obama has accelerated the privatization of the space program. Soon these aerospace industry corporations will begin to mine the sky and bills are set to be introduced in Congress to make their profits tax exempt. The bad seed of greed is indeed being planted in space.