ANALYSIS – With the race to back to the moon in full swing, a limited number of viable locations for a lunar base, and no recognized rules of ‘moon conduct,’ the issue of whether the U.S. will need to battle China and Russia for a moon base site is a growing concern. And lawmakers and defense planners are taking note.
There may be only a few locations on the moon where it would make economic sense to build a base, said Bleddyn Bowen, a professor at the University of Leicester and author of War in Space: Strategy, Spacepower, Geopolitics, and this is driving the concern.
“Water ice, for example, might be in limited pockets, for example, making the territories around certain craters on the polar regions, perhaps more desirable,” Bowen said, according to Defense One.
It’s not just water, but rare earth metals and helium-3 that will be the big prizes on the moon.
The question therefore is, what happens if each side decides on the same crater as the best spot to establish a base for lunar operations or mining sites?
Tara Copp writes in Defense One:
“If you have a situation like that, where you’re trying to do something in the exact same spot, it’s essentially who gets there first,” said Alex Gilbert, a researcher and space resources doctoral student at the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines. “And if you’re not first, then the only alternative is to forcibly remove the current occupant.”
And that’s where the Space Marines I have long advocated for may come in handy. But we will need new doctrine as well as Space Marines and capabilities to achieve that. Copp adds:
“Many terrestrial military doctrines are not applicable in space, or at least not as applicable. If you get beyond 50 miles, or at least 62 miles, suddenly different rules apply. We need to start being aware of that,” says Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.
There’s already some aggressive international elbowing over the rules of satellite operations. As with the moon, there’s no consensus yet on how to respond to aggression in Earth orbit, the head of U.S. Space Command Gen. James Dickinson told attendees at last week’s Sea Air Space conference.
“The behavior of some of our adversaries in space may surprise you,” Dickinson said. “If similar actions have been taken in other domains, they’d likely be considered provocative, aggressive, or maybe even irresponsible. And in response, the U.S. government would take corresponding actions using all levers of national power, a demarche, or a sanction or something to indicate we won’t tolerate that type of behavior, but we’re not quite there yet in space policy.” (CONTINUED – READ PART TWO HERE)ADN