Letter: Keep outer space at peace

From: Jesse Langdon


On June 18, President Donald Trump charged the Pentagon with the creation of a new military branch: the “Space Force.” The president’s move to militarize space is a hazardous decision which could spur on a new space race, but not for the better.

Upon realizing the danger of potentially having weapons of mass destruction in space, the United Nations developed the Outer Space Treaty, which went into effect in 1967. This treaty demands that those party to the treaty not place any weapons of mass destruction in orbit around the Earth or on any celestial bodies.

Trump’s “separate but equal” military branch gives the U.S. an opportunity to break yet another international treaty. Article I of the Outer Space Treaty states that “outer space … shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind.” Having a dominating U.S. military presence in space will almost certainly infringe on the free exploration, which all “states” are entitled to.

By proclaiming the need to have such a force before a threat has been identified, Trump has beckoned for one to appear. This announcement has the potential to prompt China’s further development of a similar military force. Even if this new branch of the U.S. military doesn’t put weapons of mass destruction in orbit around Earth, it threatens the free exploration of space.

The Outer Space Treaty established a desire for international cooperation in space and a plea to ensure that outer space is used only for peaceful purposes. The exploration of space will bring about hundreds of new technological advances. We need to ensure that those advancements are used for the betterment of humankind, not the destruction of it.

Let’s explore the cosmos as humanity, not as a single nation.