August 2018. Potentially a page in history. While most of us were slumbering, relaxing or simply basking in the summer holidays, the Vice President of NASA announced that a ‘SpaceForce’ would be recognised in the US by 2020. This would be, according to President Trump, a military extension to explore space. The question is, should such an endeavour be militarised, or should it remain a domestic venture?
SpaceForce Should be Military
Works such as Robert. A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, John Carpenter’s Dark Star and Fred. M. Wilcox’s Forbidden Planet all portray space exploration and colonisation as a military effort; the underlying theme to these works of fiction is that working in the cold, stark and vast reaches of space can be quite frightening. Around every corner there lies something that will harm us, whether this be psychologically due to the desolate nature of space (as in Dark Star) or, conversely, physically due to the enemy-riddled landscapes (as in Starship Troopers). These works aim to convince us that space journeys are not to be made with a light heart; military diligence is needed to protect curious scientists and prevent them from potentially bringing something home they’d much rather not.[pullquote]The US military (as with any country’s military) is a highly organised unit that would bring a lot to the space race including protection from foreign threats, controlled diligence and unbiased immediate decisions.[/pullquote]
In an article by CNN, Buzz Aldrin supported the SpaceForce initiative saying it was a ‘‘leap in the right direction’’. Support for a space exploration idea by one of the first men on the moon gives us the impression that the choice to militarise space ventures is the right one.
The US military (as with any country’s military) is a highly organised unit that would bring a lot to the space race including protection from foreign threats, controlled diligence and unbiased immediate decisions. A military unit usually works with public protection as number one priority, with this in mind we can be sure that any space journey made by these units would not result in chaos or the human race itself being at any kind of risk. However, a scientist usually puts his work before anything else, leading them to become complacent and single-minded; this type of attitude is good, and even sought out, in a laboratory or controlled environment but can be very dangerous out in the field. There are factors in the field that cannot be controlled by science alone, a military force is needed to maintain order and protection.
SpaceForce Should be Domestic
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Douglas Trumbul’s Silent Running and Gary Nelson’s The Black Hole all portray space exploration and colonisation as a domestic and scientific venture; the object of this type of fiction is to show people that space exploration is like any other science, a work of art. It is to be created, explored and rendered possible only by those of truest heart. Scientists devote their entire lives to exploring their discipline and put everything into these endeavours.[pullquote]space belongs to the world, not just the United States; this seems to be something they often forget.[/pullquote]
Another astronaut, Scott Kelly, said space should be explored peacefully; this indicates his ill confidence in the US military to accomplish this. Kelly himself spent time in the Navy between 1989-2012, spending so long in this military unit is enough to give Kelly the right knowledge and experience to know what they would and would not be good for and Spaceforce isn’t it.
It can be argued that space could only be explored peacefully by domestic units such as scientists; space belongs to the world, not just the United States; this seems to be something they often forget.
It is difficult to ascertain what kind of government body would be best to explore and colonise space; NASA pilots spend years flying for military units like the Navy and Airforce but the scientists that put these pilots in space are often not originated from the military. Perhaps a diplomatic solution is needed; science and military together as one on behalf of the world.