30 June 2014

Responses to Anonymous Comments on Hexagon-Dorian

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

To "Anonymous 1":

I mean that the Hexagon forward section structure appears to be suspended from the middle of the Dorian spacecraft, hanging like a ponderous chandelier inside of a 10-foot-diameter cavity, with no visible means of support from below. As an aerospace engineer, this strikes me as a very implausible way to transmit launch loads to a spacecraft.

To "Anonymous 2":

To begin with, I cannot explain why you do not know what I am seeing here, given that I stated it very plainly. Secondly, I am quite aware of what the Hexagon forward section contained, also I am quite familiar with its shape; I worked on the Hexagon program for four years, so I am confident that I know one when I see one. Thirdly, the body of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory spacecraft, a 10-foot diameter tube, would have been a perfectly suitable basic structure for light baffles; there would be no need for a separate internal structure, which would have added mass to the design to no advantage. Fourth, if what I claim is a Hexagon forward section is actually a light baffle structure, why does it stop short of the primary mirror? Fifth, if as you claim, the Gemini B was to return film, where in the spacecraft would it have been stowed? What were the dimensions of the take-up reel? I would need to see the drawings before I began to seriously entertain the notion. What is your source of information on this, name and date?

Although Dwayne Day does not explicitly state that there is a Hexagon forward section in the drawings in his Space Review article, this is implicit in his statement, "Now a more detailed drawing of the 'Baseline MOL Unmanned Mode' has been released, showing far more detail, including what appears to be up to twelve satellite recovery vehicles (SRVs) used to return film to Earth." I count six SRVs that are visible in the forward fairing and I believe that two other objects in the nose of the fairing are something other than SRVs, but Day's count makes sense if he sees eight SRVs, which then begs the question, where are the other four? The only plausible answer is that they are in what is obviously a Hexagon forward section.

Compare the Dorian drawings with this Hexagon drawing also released by the National Reconnaissance Office:

I readily accept the possibility that astronauts did practice transferring film to the Gemini B, but in what context? The recently released Dorian drawings show that the MOL concept and design evolved over time. There is no doubt that astronauts participated in a number of exercises to evaluate procedures, because being engineers, they would have been intimately involved in the development process; that does not mean that a given procedure passed its evaluation.

Ode to Big Bird, Part 8: Dorian and Hexagon
More Declassified Drawings of Manned Orbiting Laboratory (Dorian)
Hexadorian, the Ten-Bucket Abomination
Debating Dorian and Hexagon

28 June 2014

Hexadorian, the Ten-Bucket Abomination

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

Another reason to question the accuracy of the Dorian drawings featured in Dwayne Day's recent article in the Space Review. At the base of the stack, behind the Hexagon forward section, is bright, disk-shaped object. It looks for all the world like a big mirror, like the mirror at one end of Hubble. But placing the Hexagon forward section where it would obstruct the mirror is plainly ridiculous, so I didn't comment on it until I thought I understood it. The placement of the mirror only makes sense if Hexagon is not there and the compartment is an empty cavity of the KH-10 optical system. This is additional evidence of a quickie kludge concept; someone forgot to tell the artist to lose the mirror.

Ode to Big Bird, Part 8: Dorian and Hexagon
More Declassified Drawings of Manned Orbiting Laboratory (Dorian)
Ode to Little Bird

27 June 2014

Ode to Little Bird

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

Lockheed was involved in both the KH-8 Gambit and KH-9 Hexagon photoreconnaissance satellite programs. Originally they were managed separately, but by the time I was briefed in in 1982, the programs had been combined on both the contractor side and the government side. Gambit originally had the program number P-50, and Hexagon had been P-95. They were combined as P-950, with Hexagon being P-950A and Gambit being P-950B.

P-50, P-95, P-950 were "white world" program numbers; there were also "black world" program numbers, and all of these contracts were budgeted separately. A lot of work on these vehicles could be done in the unclassified environment, and therefore less expensively because the government didn't need the do the Single Scope Background Investigations on these people, which could take up to a year to complete. It was only in later stages of assembly and testing that the vehicles disappeared into the "black world," where it was worked on by the Byeman-briefed workforce. Thus, I saw Hexagon SV-20 in the "white world" a year before I was Byeman-briefed.

The KH-8 Gambit photoreconnaissance satellite wasn't as much of a big deal at Lockheed compared to the KH-9 Hexagon, and not just because of its smaller size. The only part of the vehicle that was assembled and tested in Sunnyvale was the basic Agena upper stage, which was unclassified and Lockheed built hundreds of them, and the roll joint, which was classified. Most often, I saw the vehicle in the "white world," and the roll joint was covered up with black visqueen. The front end of the vehicle, i.e. the camera and the two buckets, were mated to the roll joint at Vandenberg; I never saw them in Sunnyvale.

The roll joint was essentially a device for stabilizing the vehicle while the camera was operating. Since I never saw the camera system, and I haven't yet read the recently declassified documents, I can only speculate as an engineer according to physics. If the camera was a rotating system like on Hexagon, then the rotation would have caused a rolling moment on the entire vehicle.

It is pretty obvious that the roll joint was designed to counterrotate to cancel out the roll moment. However, since the camera's center of moment and the roll joint's center of moment were at two different points along the X-axis of the spacecraft, the counterrotations would have caused a pitch and a yaw. I deduce that the "black magic" of the roll joint was to also cancel out these moments. Pretty cool. The Hexagon didn't need such a device because it had two cameras that counterrotated, and they were at the same position on the X-axis.

Gambit was a very low-flying bird. On-orbit, the Agena engine was fired every few days to boost the vehicle into a slightly higher orbit, otherwise the orbit would have decayed due to atmospheric drag. I heard that there was measurable heating on the nose of the vehicle due to friction. This was not a problem since the nose of the vehicle was the heat shield of a film return bucket.

More Declassified Drawings of Manned Orbiting Laboratory (Dorian)
Hexadorian, the Ten-Bucket Abomination

25 June 2014

More Declassified Drawings of Manned Orbiting Laboratory (Dorian)

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

Although it is fascinating to see the recently declassified Dorian/Manned Orbiting Laboratory drawings, a problem with their piecemeal release is that they lack context. Obviously they are from briefing slides to senior management, but do they reflect what was actually in development or what the source of the slide show was pitching to senior management in the hope of getting funding to develop? In my view, the released drawings reflect the latter: concepts that might have been but never were. The lack of context includes that temporal component; there are no dates on these images, thus the analyst is left to deduce their place in the history of the MOL program. The evidence suggests that the drawings come from several different periods in the development of MOL.

My first impression of the Dorian_13.jpg drawing is that it was a very early Manned Orbiting Laboratory design, just after Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara canceled Dyna-Soar and announced the MOL program in December 1963. Previously, it was a concept called the Manned Orbital Development System. This drawing may be of MODS on its journey to evolving into MOL. It should be noted that the image does not bear the "Byeman" and "Dorian" markings, which suggests that the drawing dates from a time before MOL became a Byeman program under the Dorian caveat.

Notice that there is no habitable laboratory module and no crew access tunnel; thus, apparently, the crew would have remained in the Gemini for the entire mission. According to the caption, this would have been 60 days. We know from later human spaceflight experience that that it would have been unhealthy for the crew to sit in their seats without exercise for 60 days; that also had to be a real concern even in 1964, if only because this was far beyond the experience of US aerospace medicine (Mercury-Atlas 9 had spent only 1.5 days in orbit).

However, it is not obvious from the drawing that the crew would have had any mission role other than docking this Resupply Vehicle to whatever vehicle it was intended to resupply; it might have performed the docking, then detached the Gemini to return to Earth after a few days or even hours. The man-in-the-loop may have existed in the Resupply Vehicle concept only because the US was not developing an automated docking system, as the Soviets were for Soyuz. An interesting question is whether the intended docking target was a manned or unmanned vehicle. If it were a manned vehicle, there might have been a crew swap, but it would have required extra-vehicular activity (EVA), since the Resupply Vehicle had no docking tunnel; that was still under development as part of the Apollo program.

Comparing the Dorian_13.jpg and Dorian_20.jpg drawings suggest commonality of concept, although they are not conclusive evidence of commonality of design. The Dorian_20.jpg image bears the same security markings, "Secret - Special Handling" rather than "Byeman" and "Dorian," suggesting a close connect in time early in the MOL program. The film path in the two images is the same, looping through six reentry vehicles, while the fact that the RVs themselves are canted in one drawing and not in the other apparently reflects an evolution in design. It is not clear whether this unmanned vehicle was the intended docking target of the manned Resupply Vehicle, or was an unmanned resupply vehicle for some other target vehicle.

The size of the manned Dorian_13.jpg and unmanned Dorian_20.jpg vehicles suggests a Titan IIIC launch vehicle rather than the later Titan III-M, which is additional evidence that these are early drawings. The Dorian_13.jpg image shows an estimated weight of 28,400 pounds. The payload capacity of the Titan IIIC from the Cape to a 28-degree low Earth orbit was 28,900 pounds. The payload capacity of the earliest Titan IIIDs from Vandenberg to a high inclination low Earth orbit was about 25,100 pounds. The facts suggest that the system was being designed for an Eastern Test Range launch, and that MOL was later reoriented for a Western Test Range launch.

The 800px-KH-10_Dorian.jpg image suggests evolution of the MOL concept from the Dorian_13.jpg and Dorian_20.jpg drawings. It is marked "D Secret Special Handling," the "D" probably indicating "Dorian." The core of the program was now a Rendezvous Initial Vehicle (RIV), launched unmanned, containing a habitable module and a section behind it, which although unidentified was undoubtedly the KH-10 camera and the film return vehicles. The crew was to arrive in a separate Rendezvous Resupply Vehicle (RRV), whose outward appearance duplicated the earlier Resupply Vehicle in the Dorian_13.jpg drawing, but now included a hatch in the Gemini heat shield and a crew transfer tunnel. It was a very, very long crew transfer tunnel, an ergonomically hideous design, compared to the final MOL configuration that integrated the Gemini and the Laboratory Module/Mission Module.

The 800px-KH-10_Dorian.jpg image shows the RIV and the RRV docked, with the crew able to cross the docking interface via a tunnel, much like between the Apollo Command/Service Module and the Apollo Lunar Module, yet also shows the possibility of subsequent RRVs exchanging crews via EVA during a rendezvous with no provision for docking these subsequent RRVs. This is an outstandingly clumsy solution, which suggests that design ideas were still fermenting. A much better approach would have been the Multiple Docking Adapter that later was part of the Skylab design.

Of course, the dream of a resuppliable military space station died early on as the result of a turf battle between DOD and NASA. NASA was adamantly opposed to it since its own concepts for evolving a space station from Apollo/Saturn hardware were nearly as old as the Apollo and Saturn programs themselves. A 5 December 1961 NASA document indicates a "wet-launched" laboratory module outfitted from the Saturn C-1's S-4 upper stage, which would be visited by two Apollo crews. The document contemplated a total of six such S-4 wet workshops and 14 Apollo crews. The problem was selling concurrent civilian and military space station programs to Congress; despite their very different missions, they could not help but be viewed as duplicative efforts, only one of which would Congress be willing to fund. NASA won the turf battle within the Executive Branch; MOL was downscoped to a series of expendable platforms that would not be resupplied and would not be revisited, thus it was a "laboratory" and not a "space station."

An intriguing speculation is whether the MOL program did design a multiple docking adapter before the turf battle was settled, and even more intriguing, whether the Skylab MDA was a direct legacy of MOL. The Skylab MDA contractor was Martin Marietta, which was also the builder of MOL's Titan launch vehicle, which is not a compelling link in itself. But it should be considered that there is no obvious reason, in the context of Apollo/Saturn hardware, why the Skylab MDA was 10 feet in diameter, whereas this dimension makes perfect sense in the context of MOL and Titan, both of which were 10 feet in diameter. Transferring the MDA design from MOL to the Apollo Applications Program might have been included as a sweetener in the DOD deal to buy NASA's support for MOL within the Executive Branch's bureaucracy. Indeed, given that Skylab's Airlock Module was built by McDonnell Douglas and included a Gemini hatch, one wonders whether the much narrower Skylab Airlock Module also originated with McDonnell Douglas's MOL. Was it an evolution from the MOL crew transfer tunnel?

Ode to Big Bird, Part 8: Dorian and Hexagon
Ode to Little Bird

24 June 2014

Ode to Big Bird, Part 8: Dorian and Hexagon

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

On 21 June 2014, Michael Cassutt, Hollywood producer/writer, space historian, and longtime friend, shared a couple of images with me:

As an Air Force officer who worked in the Hexagon program, my analysis, transmitted to Michael later that day, was as follows:

It's pretty obvious that these drawings depict a Hexagon forward section in reverse orientation in the aft section of both the manned and unmanned MOL configurations. The KH-10 camera is in the same position relative to the Hexagon forward section as was the KH-9 camera on Hexagon itself, just reversed along the longitudinal axis. Before I saw this, I was already wondering whether KH-9 and KH-10 were simply variants of the same basic camera design, developed to serve both Hexagon and Dorian. I had already concluded that MOL had to have film buckets since there was no room to return the film in the Gemini B.

The unmanned configuration doesn't make sense to me. I identify what appear to be six buckets near the nose of the fairing, plus two more objects in the nose that appear to be different. The film path from the camera to the six buckets is evident. But then, what was the Hexagon forward section used for if not for four more buckets? A total of ten buckets? Really? How long was this thing supposed to stay in orbit, at what altitude, and where was the reboost engine? Also, two suites of buckets, one forward and one aft, would have required two separate film paths out of the camera. This is too complicated for my engineer's taste. It smells of kludge.

Also, while the film path to the six forward buckets in the unmanned configuration passes over a large object that could be the film supply drum, in the manned configuration there is a habitable module in this same space. So where was the film supply in the manned configuration? Or were the crew going to be snapping photos with Kodak Instamatic 110s?

And why would Manned Orbiting Laboratory have had an unmanned configuration anyway, given that the Hexagon program was a parallel effort? I wonder whether this is disinformation, possibly even a hoax? Or maybe the Dorian program barfed up these drawings in 1969 in a desperate pitch to merge Dorian and Hexagon as the former was facing cancellation? You've made some pitches in your time so you can write the scene: "We can turn re-orient Dorian as a Super-Hexagon!"

The longer I stare at these drawings the sillier they look. The Hexagon forward section structure appears to have no support beneath it, which means that it would have been suspended from above during launch. I have never seen a payload of that size that was designed to take launch loads in suspension. But then, supporting the structure from below would have transmitted launch loads that the Hexagon forward section was not designed to take. I don't believe that there was ever a single engineering drawing for either of these configurations; these are "artist's (mis)concepts."

Go to Part 7
More Declassified Drawings of Manned Orbiting Laboratory (Dorian)

Ode to Big Bird, Part 7

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

I was briefed into the Hexagon program in 1982 just in time to see Satellite Vehicle 17 (SV-17) rolled out to ship to Vandenberg. However, I first saw SV-20 in the "white world" in 1981 when was just a basic green structure, much like the vehicle on display at the Air Force Museum, but at the time I had no idea what it was. It was so huge that I had to ask, but I was blown off. "It's some other program." Over the next five years of assembly and test SV-20 became a beautiful bird, grand and golden.

I was listening on the launch control loop in the Blue Cube (soon to be named Onizuka Air Force Base) across the street from Lockheed Building 104 when SV-20 launched. A few seconds after liftoff, I heard, "We have no downlink." It was a repeat of what everyone had heard when STS-51L launched three months before, and I felt a dull sense of shock. "We have smoke in the blockhouse. We're evacuating."

My big golden bird was gone, just like that. And, it was the last Big Bird, the end of the program. I immediately reported to my boss in Building 104, who made some phone calls to set into motion the securing of documentation at United Technologies outside of San Jose, where the solid stages for the Titan 3 were built. Then he sent me home for the rest of the day. "There's nothing more for you to do."

It really hit the contractor engineers and technicians hard, for such a long and successful program, so vital to the stability of the strategic balance and the peace of the world, to end suddenly. If only there had been one more Bid Bird for us to work on, a chance for redemption, even though, as a launch vehicle failure, it was no one's fault at Lockheed (spacecraft), Perkin-Elmer (optical system), or McDonnell Douglas (buckets).

There wasn't anything more for anyone to do except to pack up the documentation, dispose of the tooling and ground support equipment, and clean out the desks. And we could only share the numbing sense of loss with each other, not with friends and family in the "white world." What the hell, it wasn't like seven more astronauts got killed.

Go to Part 6
Go to Part 8

23 June 2014

Ode to Big Bird, Part 6

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

Some classified satellites were designed specifically for the Shuttle and had to sit on the ground for several years while the Challenger accident was investigated. Thus a lot of early post-Challenger missions were classified. Once this inventory was flown, the DoD and the CIA returned to relying on good old expendable launch vehicles and the Shuttle pad at Vandenberg was mothballed. Hans Mark's policy, which had forced the national security establishment into flying its satellites on the Shuttle, was reversed.

However, Mark's enthusiasm for the Shuttle was such that he had insisted on a structural spares program that would keep the assembly lines open. Had this not been done, it might have been prohibitively expensive to reestablish those assembly lines to build Endeavour to replace Challenger.

Speculation regarding counterfactual history is often wildly optimistic, but what would have happened if Mark had not been able to keep the assembly lines open that later allowed Endeavour to be built? NASA would have been faced with the prospect of continuing Shuttle operations with a three-orbiter fleet.

From the beginning of the program, a four-orbiter fleet was considered to be the minimum for a viable system. When Columbia was lost in 2003, there was no possibility of building a replacement, and the decision was made to keep the Shuttle system operational only as necessary to launch components of the International Space Station.

So, picture a situation in 1986 in which Challenger cannot be replaced, the DoD and CIA are bailing out of the Shuttle program, and Space Station Freedom exists only on paper… paper that keeps getting more expensive. The decision might well have been to return the Shuttle system to flight operations only to fly out the inventory of classified satellites that had to be launched on the Shuttle, and then retire the Shuttle in the early 1990s.

As it was, there were several annual budget cycles in which the Space Station Freedom project came within a few Congressional votes of being terminated, and the Space Station was the long-delayed second phase of the Space Transportation System (how Shuttle missions got the STS designation). If STS Phase I (the Shuttle) had been destined for the dustbin, what could have been the prospects for STS Phase II (the Space Station)? Not very good.

With the loss of Challenger, no replacement for it, and a paper Space Station Freedom of rising cost and doubtful utility, US human spaceflight would have faced a reboot, if indeed it would have survived at all. Certainly the Space Station components could have been designed without much fuss to be launched on expendable launch vehicles, and certainly it would have been delayed as funding the development of a manned spacecraft to replace the Shuttle would have been the higher priority.

In this policy environment, the Personnel Launch System featuring the HL-20, the forerunner of the Dream Chaser now in development, would have been the obvious solution, and any ideas of a grandiose "Shuttle II" would have been shelved. The PLS could have been developed more quickly, whereas it would have been difficult for "Shuttle II" to avoid repeating the economic mistake of "Shuttle I."

22 June 2014

NRC Report on NASA's Future: Obvious Where Right, Obviously Wrong on China

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

"Pathways to Exploration—Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration" is a report from the National Research Council that describes the rationales for, and value of, human spaceflight beyond low Earth orbit. Commissioned by Congress, two years in the making, and written by a diverse committee of experts, the report develops recommendations that could guide the U.S. human spaceflight program in a sustainable manner.

A recent Popular Mechanics article, "5 Things to Know About the New Report on NASA’s Future," highlights five basic issues from the NRC report:

1. There Are Only Four Places Human Explorers Could Go
2. Why Are We Even Doing This?
3. They Need More Money
4. They Need Political Stability and Long-Term Support
5. Don’t Fear Teamwork–Even With China

Point 1 is merely a statement of fact regarding where we are in the Solar System with respect to where other celestial bodies are, the nature of their environments, and our ability to cross distances and to access them; we can go back to the Moon, to near-Earth asteroids, to Mars, and to the two Martian moons that are no bigger than asteroids. Point 2 is the core of the problem of the United States human spaceflight program, it always has been, and it has a cascading effect on Points 3 and 4. As to Point 5, my first reaction is a bit of impolite "aviator speak" expressing utter astonishment, best not repeated here.

Regarding Point 2, Cornell professor Jonathan Lunine, one of the lead authors of the report, says: "There are two main sets of rationales for supporting human spaceflight: There are pragmatic rationales, and there are aspirational ones. The aspirational rationales are tied to the enduring questions. Pragmatic rationales alone are inadequate to justify human spaceflight. Aspirational and pragmatic rationales in combination argue for a continuation of our nation’s human spaceflight program."

Unabashedly, I am a Kennedy kid who was raised on the vision of the New Frontier, a Star Trek child who was raised on the credo "To boldly go…." I was a boy who worried that I was too young to be the first man on Mars. I accepted the aspirational rationales of human spaceflight not simply as articles of faith, but as the purpose of life, and I remain a true believer.

There are few of us who are truly dedicated to the aspirational rationales of human spaceflight. Even in the 21st century, many human beings die a few miles from where they were born without ever having seen much else of the world, still more are only a generation or two removed from that circumscribed existence, so it is understandable that most people have little idea what goes on in the vastness of outer space, or its importance to us. The myopia of the human race has a direct effect on Point 3, the need for more money.

Most people feel vaguely positive about having such a human spaceflight program, but they don't understand what it does, and they think it costs a lot more than it actually does. Many think it consumes as much as one quarter of the federal budget, whereas in reality, with the exception of peak spending during the Apollo program, it has historically accounted for less than one percent. To put it in perspective, it's about what we spend on national and state parks.

Most Americans are math challenged. Any number with a lot of zeros makes their eyes glaze over. So $150 billion to send Americans back to the Moon seemed like too much money for something they sort of kind of liked, and so the Constellation program was canceled. However, they tolerated spending anywhere from $3 trillion to $6 trillion on a "war of choice" in Iraq. Wake up and smell the burning money.

Is it really about money, or is it about choices? There is always plenty of money for dealing out new death, and damned little money for seeking out new life. Actually, there is a certain perverse logic to it: why should we be interested in seeking out new life when we value so little the life that is here on Earth?

The politicians who set the priorities are no more than the reflection, no so much of the general electorate, but of energized pressure groups who are no better informed than the average Joe but a hell of a lot louder. Since most people think that NASA already gets plenty of money, progressives prioritize for social programs rather than NASA, and neoconservatives prioritize for national power projection rather than NASA; meanwhile, libertarians believe that private enterprise can entirely replace NASA. The political constituency for NASA is a signal that is well below the noise level.

Reiterating part of Point 2, "Pragmatic rationales alone are inadequate to justify human spaceflight." This alone is sufficient to explain the unhappy fate of military human spaceflight programs such as Dyna-Soar (canceled in 1963), the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (canceled in 1969), and military Space Shuttle flights out of Vandenberg Air Force Base (canceled in 1986).  On the Soviet side, the list of abandoned military human spaceflight programs is far more lengthy and exotic, including manned space interceptors. In the end, pragmatic military rationales favored unmanned systems. It should also be remembered that the Space Shuttle system was supposed to be a pragmatic human spaceflight program, paying for itself by reducing the cost of launch operations; it did not.

From this history, a prudent person cannot choose but to cast a jaundiced eye on the libertarian "NewSpace" cheerleaders who, having never suited up to play on the gridiron themselves, have long been critical of NASA. Whereas the old NASA contractor's mantra was "under-promise and over-deliver," the "NewSpace" hype has reversed that wisdom. Few wish to remember that in September 2004 it was publicly stated that SpaceShipTwo would begin commercial flights in 2007; ten years later, that project is at least seven years behind schedule. NASA managers would have been forced to resign over such a delay, and Soviet managers would have been sent to forced labor camps. The "NewSpace" crowd is finding out the hard way that they aren't any smarter than Wernher von Braun, Sergey Korolev, or Maxime Faget. But I give Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Robert Bigelow their due, for they they are "doers" and I believe along with them that there are niches opening up for private enterprise in the ecology of human spaceflight. The cheerleaders, however, are ugly.

So, "Why are we even doing this?" If one is a true believer, the answer is self-evident, and if one is not, persuasion based on pragmatism is problematic. There are quicker and more certain returns on investment than human spaceflight. One can build great machines that are economic failures: the Space Shuttle, the Concorde, the L-1011 Tristar. National policy can put human beings on the Moon; it is not pragmatic on its own merits, it is the resultant of a larger political calculus. Thus, analysis triangulates on Lunine's conclusion: "Aspirational and pragmatic rationales in combination argue for a continuation of our nation’s human spaceflight program."

Which brings us now to Point 4, "They need political stability and long-term support." John F. Kennedy knew that there was a good chance that he would not be president when the first American landed on the Moon, but there was also a good chance that he would have been the president to make that historic telephone call from the Oval Office to the Moon. According to schedules that NASA produced shortly after he addressed a joint session of Congress in May 1961, committing the nation to "achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon," that goal would have been achieved in mid-1967. Except for two events, a bullet in Dallas in November 1963 and a fire at the Cape in January 1967, Kennedy would have been on the other end of the conversation with Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin. As it turned out, Lyndon Johnson missed the phone call by only six months.

We are beyond the era of doing anything that momentous that quickly. Landing humans on Mars will require a political commitment beyond the eight-year presidential cycle. It must be a legacy shared among three or more presidents. This is not an insurmountable obstacle. American national policy need not be short-sighted. The Cold War strategy of containment of the Soviet Union was born in the Truman administration, and was carried through by Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. Also, protracted wars had been carried over from the president from one political party to that from another (Vietnam, Johnson to Nixon; Afghanistan and Iraq, George W. Bush to Obama). The American political system has demonstrated the ability to initiate, to sustain, and to achieve long term goals across party lines.

However, history suggests that it must be a national commitment, not a "feel good" exercise. Here is where Russia and China have an advantage over the United States. America is a satisfied and complacent power, having won two world wars and the Cold War, and having taken the lead role in constructing international institutions. On the other hand, Russia and China, our fellow victors in the Second World War, are anxious to prove themselves as great powers in the international order of the 21st century. Outer space, no less than in the 1960s, is a venue where great powers can prove themselves. The next nation that lands a human on the Moon will present a challenge to American leadership, despite a professed American ennui of "been there, done that" before your father was born. A nation can rest on laurels only so long; eventually, the champion must climb back into the ring and defend his title. Again we come to the question of choice: can national leaders convince Americans that it is in the national interest to spend as much as one percent of the federal budget to achieve truly astonishing things in space, or are we going to keep treating NASA funding as a minor expense like buying deodorant and anti-fungal cream?

We now come to Point 5: "Don’t fear teamwork – even with China." This is the sort of policy recommendation that only a politically un-savvy physical scientist could love.

Looking at the history of international partnerships in human spaceflight, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project of the 1970s was a limited exercise during the Nixon-Brezhnev "detente" that was extinguished by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Cooperation did not resume until after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, at which time American space policy became geared to seeking any opportunity to keep Soviet rocket scientists gainfully employed lest they market their expertise to unsavory and dangerous buyers.
The second era of Russo-American cooperation lasted two decades, but it is probably coming to an end. Russia, stung by global reaction to its annexation of Crimea, has stated its intention to withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) project by 2020. Two bites at the apple, Russia has proven to be an unreliable partner.

In contrast, the Europeans and the Canadians have been steady partners with the US in human spaceflight for four decades, beginning with the Space Shuttle program. Japan is also a long-standing and steady partner with the US in human spaceflight, having joined the ISS project in 1988. The difference between these countries and Russia is obvious. They are liberal democracies, and they do not menace either their neighbors or each other.

That China is a rising economy with an increasingly ambitious and capable space program is hardly sufficient reason to include it in international partnerships in human spaceflight. It is an authoritarian, single-party state, brutally suppressive of internal dissent, increasingly threatening in its territorial disputes with its neighbors, and predatory in its use of cyber warfare capabilities around the world.
It is not necessary to think through the national security implications of technology transfer to conclude that this an outstandingly bad idea. Contemplating a partnership with China runs counter to the logic of Point 4, the need for political stability and long-term support, in apparent pursuit of Point 3, the need for more money. It is inconceivable that a partnership with China could be politically stable for the several decades it would take for a human Mars landing program to come to fruition.

The choice of international partners becomes more crucial as we pursue human spaceflight goals farther from Earth. It is bad enough that the future of the ISS program beyond 2020 has now been thrown into doubt because of Russia's reversion to revanchism, but the ISS is just a few hundred kilometers above Earth, and we have a few years to make arrangements that do not include Russia. The last thing we should want is to have crews hanging out there in deep space for want of critical components or supplies, months and possibly years from possible return to Earth, while an international crisis between "partners" plays out. Such a scenario makes for good science fiction, but it would be unconscionably bad policy.

There are more palatable choices available if we want to look for international partners for the next grand human spaceflight project in addition to our proven partners in Japan, Canada, and Europe: rising economies, which, unlike China, are within the zone of the "liberal democratic peace." Most obvious is India, not only the world's largest democracy and an increasingly dynamic and diverse economic powerhouse, but a spacefaring nation that is pursuing its own independent human spaceflight program.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin, an old man, is a short-timer on Earth, and it is conceivable that his successor could set Russia on a course back toward the sphere of the "liberal democratic peace" and make it once again a reasonable partner in human spaceflight. At least it is a far better bet than rolling the dice with China.

21 June 2014

A Strategy for Argentine Economic Recovery: Ten Years On

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

"Argentina shares fall on debt repayment doubts"

You realize, of course, that this is happening as a direct result of Presidente Nestor Kirchner acting on my advice ten years ago. ;-)

"A Strategy for Argentine Economic Recovery"

I wrote in 2004:

Shave and a Haircut... Two Bits
With regard to private creditors and the proposed 75% reduction on the principal owed, Argentina might take particular pleasure in throwing Margaret Thatcher's famous pronouncement on neoliberalism back in the face of international finance: 'There is no alternative.' However, a 75% haircut across the board (returning only two bits on the dollar) may not be just. This money was borrowed from different sources at different times under very different conditions, thus some creditors (presumably earlier ones were mostly traditional sources that charged less interest) had much less expectation of risk than others who sailed into the gathering storm with eyes wide open. Most egregious of the latter are the 'vulture funds' that buy up debts owed by companies or countries in financial difficulty for a deep discount, and then try to get full payment. In one case in the 1990s, a New York fund paid $11 million for Peruvian debt with a face value of nearly $21 million, and was eventually awarded more than $55 million by a US court, the figure including overdue interest payments (Walker 2002). Obviously, such vulture funds are in a high-risk business--they can turn a handsome profit, or get left holding the bag--and a realistic outlook is that they can expect some of each. As a matter of economic justice, the vulture funds should get not just a haircut but a close shave as well, while the more traditional funds should receive better treatment. Such an approach would also be in Argentina's long-term interest, as the more mainstream investors are the people it will want to do business with again in the future.

As the BBC article reports, Argentina settled 92% of its debt at a two-thirds write-off, more generous than the 75% offered in 2004. But the vulture funds holding the remaining 8% of the debt were unreasonable, they demanded 100% repayment. The article shows Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Jorge Capitanich holding a chart documenting hedge fund NML demanding 832 units for an initial investment of 48.7 units, a return of 1608%. The caption reads: "Jorge Capitanich has defended his country's stance against what he calls the 'vulture funds'."

Given the history of US court rulings against foreign debtors, the US Supreme Court ruling for Argentina to repay NML in full comes as no surprise.

In the US, 150 years ago, we had another name for the likes of these vulture funds: "carpetbaggers." These were unscrupulous Northern "businessmen" who plundered the South in the aftermath of the American Civil War. No one should mistake this for capitalism; it is predation, pure and simple. Quite the opposite of productive investment that builds industry and creates jobs, "vulture capitalism" is destructive investment that crushes economies and spreads destitution. It is an abuse that gives true capitalism a bad name, it is as larcenous as the Russian oligarchs, and a stand must be made against it.


Let Argentina be the first. "¡Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodillas!" Presidente Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner should ignore the US Supreme Court, as some US presidents have: "The Court has made its decision, now let it enforce it." Argentina can take its lumps in the bond markets in the short term, but this will pass if Argentina continues to perform with responsible lenders. Earlier this year, Forbes reported, "Argentina’s bond market returned 19% for investors last year and that the country has not missed a debt repayment in the last eight years." At that continued rate of return, I doubt that the majority of financiers will weep for the vultures. Global finance will get the right message: good faith lenders get good value, whereas sometimes the prey turns on the predators. That's just tough.

To reiterate, Argentina successfully restructured 92% of its debt. I say tell the other 8%, "¡Vete al diablo!"

¡Viva Argentina! ¡Viva Cristina! ¡Viva Argentina!

Ode to Big Bird, Part 5

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

Although the Space Shuttle was designed with Hexagon in mind, delays in the Shuttle program ensured that the Hexagon program aged out before that happened. Still, as the Hexagon was processing the last vehicle of the program, there was an idea that was floated that could extend the program.

Hans Mark states on p. 18 of his 1997 interview, "...we wanted to have a payload on the shuttle, to use the shuttle as [an] intelligence bird. The idea then, and this was [director of special projects, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force Maj. Gen. John E.] Kulpa's idea, was to modify the last Hexagon, to put it in the payload bay, and to be something that you carry up, and then bring back.... I don't remember the code name. That was never done...."

From the context of the interview, this seems to have been in 1980. By the time I was briefed in, the idea had changed, probably due to delays in getting Vandenberg SLC-6 ready for Shuttle launches. In the version I heard, probably in 1984, the scenario was to launch a Shuttle out of the Cape into a sun-synchronous orbit to retrieve the last Hexagon satellite. There are some serious barriers to a sun-synchronous launch from the Cape, which is why it's never been done.

You can't launch to the south, as is done from Vandenberg, because the vehicle would overfly Cuba during the launch phase, presenting a serious risk to population and property, not to mention the diplomatic fallout. I haven't seen the calculations on where the Solid Rocket Boosters would have landed, but it seems to me that it would have been near Cuba.

Launching to the north from the Cape has its own set of problems. The Shuttle would need to fly north-northeast off the coast of Florida and Georgia until Solid Rocket Booster separation. Then the vehicle would need to turn inland, heading north-northwest, crossing the coastline near Charleston, because a sun-synchronous orbit is slightly retrograde. External Tank separation would have occurred over Detroit, more or less.

The payload penalty for launching into a sun-synchronous orbit versus a low-inclination orbit (which takes advantage of Earth's rotational velocity) is bad enough, but the penalty for flying a dog-leg trajectory into a sun-synchronous orbit would have been enormous. Probably the Shuttle's payload bay would have had to be essentially empty.

But the fun wasn't over yet. Since this was to be a highly classified mission, it wasn't going to be well publicized. About 15 minutes later, the Soviets would have seen two very large blips (the Orbiter and the External Tank) popping up from the Canadian side of the north pole, without prior warning, heading straight at them.

Some Soviet leaders were convinced that the Shuttle was capable of deploying nuclear warheads from orbit. The External Tank would have reentered somewhere over Siberia, Mongolia, or China. Now, this idea was being floated a year or so after the Able Archer 83 scare, when the Soviets wondered whether a NATO command post exercise was a prelude to launching a preemptive nuclear strike.

Anyway, once in orbit, the Orbiter would have chased down and grappled the Hexagon, and returned to Earth with the satellite in its payload bay, whereupon it would have been refurbished to be sent back into orbit on a Titan 34D, possibly to be retrieved, refurbished, and relaunched again. But film was passé by then, so the US government wasn't much interested in keeping the Hexagon program alive. It had served its purpose well, but the future belonged to a digital-imagery system.

Go to Part 4
Go to Part 6

20 June 2014

Ode to Big Bird, Part 4

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

R. J. Chester's "A History of the Hexagon Program: The Perkin-Elmer Involvement," written in 1985 and released in a redacted version in April 2012, refers to several additional precursors to the flight models (pp. 131-139): the Mass Model, Thermal Model, Engineering Model, and Development Model. These refer to the mid-section only, which contained the optical system, which was obviously the most technically challenging part of the bird. I don't know that there were as many non-flight items (NFIs) of the forward or aft sections, nor do I see why there would have been the need for them. So, there may be only the one complete non-flight item that is on display at the Air Force Museum.

As the Gambit and Hexagon programs were closing out in the mid-1980s, we joked about how someday the NFIs would be on public display in the Byeman Museum. It has come to pass.

The Hans Mark interview is a very interesting read. The transcription is rough, people's names are often misspelled, and Mark didn't need to the interviewer who these people were, so they are usually not identified by title. It is interesting to read a redacted document with some knowledge of the programs being acknowledged and others not being acknowledged, and being able to deduce some of the redacted material.

Despite the fact that both Hexagon and Hubble were assembled and tested in Building 156 at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company (LMSC) in Sunnyvale (I saw Hubble being assembled in the mid-1980s), there wasn't a whole lot of commonality in design and technology, despite what has been reported by some. After all, Hexagon was a film-based system, whereas Hubble was a digital imaging system. There is sufficient open source material to conclude that Hubble had much more in common with another classified satellite program. One space telescope looks up, another looks down....

19 June 2014

Ode to Big Bird, Part 3

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

According to Wikipedia, "The crucial factor in the size and shape of the Shuttle orbiter was the requirement that it be able to accommodate the largest planned commercial and military satellites, and have over 1,000 mile cross-range recovery range to meet the requirement for classified USAF missions for a once-around abort from a launch to a polar orbit. The militarily [sic] specified 1,085 nm cross range requirement was one of the primary reasons for the Shuttle's large wings, compared to modern commercial designs with very minimal control surfaces and glide capability." The Orbiter's wings were a lot of dead mass to carry into orbit. Without this large cross-range requirement, the Orbiter might have been more of a lifting body design such as the X-38 or the Dream Chaser.

Some sources explain the copycat design of the Soviet shuttle Buran as the simply the result of Soviet engineers facing the same technical issues based on the same physics, and converging on similar solutions. I find this argument suspect since, even if Buran's design requirements included sun-synchronous missions, and I have seen no literature regarding that, Buran could have recovered at any of dozens of military airfields along a line from Murmansk to the North Caucasus Military District, which, being 1,000 nautical miles west of Baikonur, are located on the sun-synchronous track one revolution after a launch from Baikonur. So, I conclude that Buran was a knock-off of an American design for which the Soviets had little or no need.

On 9 February 2012 the National Reconnaissance Office released a redacted version of a 12 March 1997 interview of Hans Mark, former Secretary of the Air Force and former Deputy Administrator of NASA. On p. 16 he states, "The shuttle was in fact sized to launch HEXAGON. The size of the payload bay was determined by HEXAGON."

These military requirements would have been frozen into the design around 1972, yet Mark also states that as Secretary of the Air Force in 1980, he dragged the intelligence community kicking and screaming into putting their satellites on the shuttle. He implies that Jimmy Carter reallocated one billion dollars from the black budget to solve the shuttle program's fiscal problem in the FY 1981 federal budget.

The picture that is painted is that NASA, wanting the military as a Shuttle customer to shore up its mission model that showed the need for a high launch rate (which was the only way that the Shuttle could be shown on paper to make economic sense), made very costly design decisions to attract the political support of the military and particularly of the intelligence community, and still they didn't want to have anything to do with the Shuttle, to the point that Hans Mark had to tell them, "You asked for it, you got it, now get on it."

This points up the level of disarray among space policy makers in the 1970s. The Pentagon and the intelligence community told NASA, "Sure, go ahead and build this thing if you want to." They told NASA what it wanted to hear, because it justified building an Aerospace White Elephant. With the Apollo program winding down, NASA had to have an Aerospace White Elephant to keep from shrinking back down to the tiny agency it had been during Project Mercury.

It is also an example of how technocracy, drunk on its successes of the 1960s, went on an absolute bender in the 1970s.  It was the age of Aerospace White Elephants. Britain and France built the Concorde, the Soviet Union built the Tu-144, and instead of building its own SST the United States built the Space Shuttle. Anything could be made to fly if you paid enough engineers, whether or not it made sense.

The Soviet Union, the most emotionally insecure national security state of all time, had to build two Aerospace White Elephants, not just the Tu-144, which was an unmitigated disaster, but also the Buran, which, had that program continued, I have little doubt that it too would have proved an unmitigated disaster. The laugh is that the Soviets built the Buran because they feared the capabilities of the Shuttle and saw it as a potential space weapon, while in reality the US national security establishment had only a passing interest in the Shuttle at best.

18 June 2014

OPS-Alaska Proposes Space Weapons Treaty

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

Yet Another Space Weapons Treaty

On 10 June 2014, the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation presented in the United Nations Conference on Disarmament (CD) a draft Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT), an update of the draft treaty proposed by Russia and China in 2008. As of this writing, the text of the draft treaty has not been posted to the CD website. The reportage suggests that China and Russia have merely tinkered around the edges of their 2008 proposal. If so, the new draft will be as unacceptable to the US as was their 2008 draft.

Weapon Types: What to Include and to Exclude

The term “space weapon” has always been difficult to define precisely; however there are three broad categories:

1. Earth-based anti-satellite weapons
2. Space-based anti-satellite weapons
3. Space-based force projection weapons

Categories 1 and 2 are of universal concern because the orbiting debris caused by the testing and use of such weapons degrades the environment of Earth orbit, increasing the hazard to the peaceful use of outer space. This is not an issue with Category 3 weapons. The primary concern with regard to Category 3 weapons is one of state interests, specifically the vulnerability of sovereign airspace from outer space. It should also be considered that force projection weapons could either deter or retaliate against Earth-based anti-satellite (ASAT) attacks by non-party states, and might be a means of collective self-defense for the states parties. Since the issues with regard to Category 3 weapons are clearly different from those of Category 1 and Category 2 weapons, they are best addressed in a separate treaty. Thus the immediate problem to be addressed in international law is the prohibition of ASATs rather than prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS).

A fatal flaw of all ASAT treaties proposed to date is that they address Category 2 weapons while being entirely silent on Category 1 weapons. Such proposals are prejudicial to the interests of the United States, not simply because presumably it enjoys an advantage in ASAT technology, but much more importantly, because the US is the biggest user of space-based systems; thus Earth-based (land, sea, and air) threats to space-based infrastructure is of vital concern to the US. Any draft ASAT treaty that fails to address Earth-based threats to space-based assets will be eternally unacceptable to the US.

ASAT’s Linkage to Strategic Arms Control

On 11 January 2007, a Chinese medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) armed with a direct-ascent kinetic kill vehicle (KKV) destroyed a defunct PRC weather satellite, the Fengyun-1C (FY-1C)
The Scud-C, sold by North Korea to Syria and other states, has a horizontal range of 600 km with a 700-kg payload; fired vertically, a Scud-C could reach 300 km.

Since intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) could be used to launch ASATs, an ASAT treaty must be tied to a strategic arms inspection regime similar to the 2010 Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START). New START does not include IRBMs and MRBMs, since the USA and the USSR decommissioned these pursuant to the 1987 Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles; however, other states such as China possess them. Although strategic offensive arms need not be restricted or eliminated in an ASAT treaty, as potential ASAT launchers they need to be accounted for and to be inspected.

ASAT Test Ban

The US position is that past draft ASAT treaties have been unverifiable. Although deployment may be difficult to detect, ASAT tests are detectable, especially if they are successful. But, an untested weapon has doubtful military utility, thus the illegal deployment of an untested weapon is unlikely. Even so, the historical evidence is that an anti-satellite weapon system is less of a technical challenge than a missile defense system, given that the US tested an anti-satellite system in the mid 1980s, but three decades later it is deploying only a limited non-nuclear missile defense system. In principle, the position of a satellite in orbit at any given moment is as predictable as that of a stationary object in that in Newtonian terms they are both “at rest,“ and for a satellite that has remained in its orbit for days or even months without maneuvering, its “rest state” is well characterized. In contrast, from the moment of detection to projected moment of impact is only a matter of minutes for a ballistic missile’s reentry vehicle, and in those minutes a defense system much characterize the flight path, continuously update it as the reentry vehicle maneuvers, and discriminate between the real target and decoys. Thus it would appear that any anti-missile defense (AMD) system inherently will have an anti-satellite capability, even if one limited to low Earth orbit. Aside from banning AMD system testing in an ASAT mode, what other measures can be taken to verify compliance?

Burnout Velocity Limitation

Prohibition of AMD interceptors with burnout velocities greater than 3.5 km/sec would limit the ASAT capability of an AMD system to 600 km orbits. The current Aegis SM-3 Block 1 interceptor is within such a restriction. There are plans to increase the Aegis burnout velocity to 4.5-5.5 km/sec to give it a longer reach for midcourse interceptions and thereby expand its geographic basing options, but it would also give the system higher reach against satellites, from 1,450 km to 2,350 km. Both terminal and midcourse defense systems must overcome decoys, but terminal systems must also overcome maneuverable RVs that are in development. The investment to date in AMDs, and the normative argument of defeating offensive missiles, makes the AMD threat to low Earth orbit a fait accompli that would be very difficult to roll back, however, there are arguments in favor of a burnout velocity restriction. The arguments for higher burnout velocities are weakened if there is a ban on multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), maneuverable RVs, and decoys. (Russo-American treaties have progressively restricted MIRVs, while maneuverable RVs and decoys are probably verifiable under the New START inspection regime although the treaty does not restrict them.) Assuming that major nuclear weapons states join an expanded regime based on New START, AMD systems would need only to be sized against a strike from a state outside the regime possessing little offensive capability.


A test verification regime similar to New START could verify compliance with a 3.5 km/sec restriction. Additionally, an ASAT treaty should expand on the aerial and on-site inspection regimes that are already in place between the Russian Federation and the United States pursuant to the Open Skies Treaty and New START

Strategic Chains

An ASAT treaty that effectively addresses Earth-based threats, while not limiting strategic arms, requires an information-sharing and inspection regime that is conducive to such future agreements and could solve a chain of security problems involving nuclear weapons in which bilateral agreements are unlikely due to issues regarding third parties. A Pakistan-India strategic arms reduction treaty (START) is inhibited because India must size its nuclear forces to deter China; in turn, an India-China START is inhibited because China must size its nuclear forces to deter Russia and the US. Further Russia-US STARTs are constrained by the need to deter China. The transparency and confidence-building measures of an ASAT treaty might be a path to a multilateral START.

Notifications and Telemetric Data on AMD Tests

Earth-based ASATs are difficult to distinguish from AMDs, thus it is difficult to construct a regime in which ABMs are legal and ASATs are illegal. This is not to say that separation is impossible. Exchanging telemetric information pursuant to New START Article 9 may be a solution. Parties could be required to issue notification prior to test launch of a strategic missile or a missile defense system and to provide telemetric data. Would telemetry provide clues to ASAT capability? What are the technology transfer concerns regarding providing telemetry? Are such concerns outweighed by the advantages of an ASAT treaty?

Peace Games

The repeated failure of draft treaties, offered by the USSR alone, then by Russia and China jointly, to tackle Category 1 weapons suggests a dogged diplomatic strategy. Such proposals have not been serious arms control efforts, but rather have been calculated to portray the US’s 30-year opposition to such proposals in the worse possible light on the international political stage. The message conveyed is that Russia and China want what the most of the world wants -- peace in outer space -- whereas the US does not. Unfortunately, US policy has inept enough to play into this strategy. It suffers a diplomatic black eye every time it just says "No!" in defiance of 150 other members of the United Nations. A better strategy would be to for the US to counter with a proposal of its own, one that addresses its legitimate concerns.

Template for a Comprehensive and Verifiable ASAT Treaty

The 2008 PPWT presented by Russia and China was only five pages, and it cannot be expected that the 2014 version is a great deal longer. In contrast, New START, a treaty between only the Russian Federation and the United States, and addressing only the reduction of strategic offensive weapons, runs 17 pages in length, and also includes a 165-page protocol which for the most part a blank template for inputting information required by the treaty. In light of this, it can be seen that the PPWT is not even a useful beginning effort.

OPS-Alaska’s draft Treaty on the Prohibition of the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects and its mandatory protocol are the first serious attempt to address the legitimate outer space security concerns of the United States. The draft is written as a treaty between the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, and the United States, taking much of its structure from New START. Given that a meaningful ASAT treaty must address Earth-based threats to satellites, including classes of missiles that the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to eliminate before the end of the Cold War but which China continues to deploy, and given the need to specify an inspection and verification regime to distinguish between permitted AMD systems and prohibited ASAT systems, one can understand that such a treaty would be considerably more complex than New START. It should come as little surprise then that the draft ASAT treaty presented here is somewhat longer than New START, and that its protocol, which like the New START protocol is largely a blank template for entering required information, runs 350 pages. Expanding the draft treaty to include other countries possessing the capability to develop anti-satellite weapons would increase its length considerably.

Projections regarding the necessary length of a multilateral ASAT treaty do not to suggest that concluding and ASAT treaty is impossible, only that the difficulty of the task has been significantly underestimated. It should be observed, however, that although Russia and the United States have nearly fifty years’ experience in negotiating and managing the implementation of the difficult details of strategic arms control agreements and have also agreed to both aerial and on-site inspection, China has no such history; the openness that would be required of China in concluding and abiding by a meaningful ASAT treaty is entirely outside its experience.