Yay, ’tis my birthday! One more year of teenage-hood left.
Okay, enough with the public service announcements, back to the show. For anybody who has been following the solar sail launch project, you probably know what’s going on right now: aka, nobody knows whats going on. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to it, here is a brief synopsis: a [planetary.org] private space company has been working on a “hairline budget” of 4 million dollars to try and produce a space craft. Their concept is for a solar sail; much like a sail on a sail boat, except that instead of being pushed by the wind, it is pushed by solar particles (for a better explanation, check out Wikipedia’s Article. Anyway, yesterday was launch day. They were putting the craft into orbit by launching it from a Russian submarine on a modified Russian ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile). However, 83 seconds after launch, the rocket shut down. Some sources are saying that the entire device crashed, but mission controls are still receiving faint signals from the vehicle, suggesting that it may be in a low orbit. Anyway, the search is on.
I sort of expected something like this would happen, but I’m a died in the whool conspiracy theorist, so of course I think it happened on purpose. There are two possible scenarios for why the mission would be sabotaged: one, some government (most likely US or Russia) already knows that the sail will work properly, perhaps better than expected and it will remove government domination of space. On the other hand, they may wish for the largest private space advocacy group to continue pursuing a course that they know to fail to keep them away from a real solution. Either way ensures the continuation of government control of space.
Why would the governments want to keep control of space to themselves? For a number of reasons, actually, but here are a few:
- Plain Old Fashioned Power – the more they can control the stronger they can be. Politicians and governments in general have always been power hungry, and those that have felt very strong power (the US and Russia are both good examples, especially considering that many officials in both governments can still taste the Cold War).
- Defense Projects – Anything from the [wikipedia.org] Strategic Defense Initiative (aka, the Star Wars Project), to an all out missile launch platform from space would ensure the power of any government that attains it, both from a defense perspective and from an offensive prospective (complete with large amounts of propaganda, of course).
- Any Government Secrets in space – this may seem like a bit more of a reach, but it is difficult to believe that some of the governments black-budget projects (ones not listed on the budget for the public to know about) are not involved with or located in space. If commercial craft become feasible and then widely used in space, many of the governments projects would most likely be discovered. No matter what these projects are, the government would like to protect their secrecy if they exist, so something as simple as sabotaging a launch from a private company and making it appear like the company made a mistake would be the simplest defense mechanism to protect these projects.
Who knows, I could be completely off the nail here, but somehow something as simple as “oops, the rocket shut down early!” doesn’t seem like a good explanation either, especially not on such a carefully planned and controlled project.
Just my $.02. Peace out.