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Guest: Christopher (Chris) Stone; Topics: U.S. national space security and more. See the tags/key words for a good summary of topics discussed on this program.
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We welcomed back to the show Chris Stone for national space security updates, new policies and developments and more. Chris posted two op-ed articles on the blog for our discussion. I am also posting them in this summary:
1. The Hill: The Space Force needs deterrent and war-winning capabilities from May 27, 2021: https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/555337-the-space-force-needs-deterrence-and-war-winning-capabilities
2. Defense News: Maneuver warfare in space: The strategic imperative for nuclear thermal propulsion from July 8, 2021: https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2021/07/08/maneuver-warfare-in-space-the-strategic-imperative-for-nuclear-thermal-propulsion.
I strongly suggest you to read these two articles prior to listening to the discussion and to have them available for reference during the program.
We started our discussion with a short overview of just how important space has become to our national security. Chris mentioned many times that with advanced ASAT weaponry by both China and Russia, we need to take things more seriously than we are doing. Chris then talked about the Space Force budget which was an increase but he pointed out that it was mostly from shifting resources from other services to the Space Force. Chris wanted to see and said it was important that the Space Force budget show increases with new money. Chris explained this to us, talked about the budget process and the fact that at the moment there was no advocacy for a larger Space Force budget. Don't miss all of what our guest had to say on this topic.
Chris jumped to discussing his op-ed in the Hill. He had much to say about what constitutes an effective deterrent. Listen to what he said about our capabilities, both good, weak, and bad. He talked about security classifications and our capabilities with the idea that maybe the capability should be disclosed so our adversaries know we cand do this or that but to do so in a way that provides no information on the how or anything about the capability that could weaken us. After you hear what our guest says on this topic, post your thoughts on the subject on our blog for this show. We would like to know what you think about this matter.
Listener Todd in San Diego provided us with our first email question. He asked Chris about cyber security as part of national space security and the Space Force. Chris had much to say on this topic. Toward the end of this particular discussion topic, Chris was asked to grade us on how well we were doing with our security policy. While he did not give our policy and efforts a letter grade, he said we were still vulnerable. Listen to all of what he said regarding our focus on security and the space segment.
Marshall was our first caller. Once again he brought up Starlink vulnerability, saying it was probably the most vulnerable of our space assets. He wanted to know if the Space Force was willing and capable to defend Starlink from attack. Chris noted vulnerabilities by being in LEO, having large cluster constellations and vulnerable ground stations. Once again, be sure to hear all of what Chris said with regards to security and Starlink.
Our next caller was Michael Listner. Michael brought up the very bellicose rhetoric with China and Japan and China's threat to Japan that they would nuke them if they messed with Taiwan. This brough up a discussion about the No First Use Doctrine from China's perspective which is about 180 degrees from the perspective in the West. This was a very informative part of our discussion so don't miss it. Chris mentioned some of our classified programs plus other programs such as the B21 program, X37 and a few more. This discussion also pertained to the second of his op-ed articles which focused on maneuverability warfare in space and the need for nuclear thermal propulsion in cislunar space. As part of this discussion, I asked Chris for his opinion on the many emails I get that dismiss China as a space threat given their tech is not as advanced or good as ours and much was stolen, not created by the Chinese. Chris spent time pointing out the difference in technology and their geopolitical strategic interests in space, plus our own geopolitical interest in space. This was a very interesting part of our discussion. Also informative. Share your thoughts with us by posting them on our blog. Later Michael asked about the Air Force Vanguard program, Rocket Cargo. Chris explained it to us, even referencing the old Pan Am Airlines and its founder, Juan Tripp.
Chris spent more time on the nuclear thermal propulsion for space and introduced us to the DRACO cislunar program. Referring back to the Defense News article, our guest had much to say about the need for rapid maneuverability in space, the type only possible with nuclear thermal propulsion. John Hunt called to ask about what happens to a spent reactor in space. He also talked about possible Chinese military conflict over Taiwan and he wanted to know how vulnerable China was to a counter attack. This prompted Chris to talk about responses, including the Tit for Tat response. Chris went on to talk about the China Belt and Road policy plus their Space Silk Road. John concluded his part of the call by asking our guest if he thought China might undergo a breakout in their nuclear forces for a widespread expansion of such. In addition to this, Chris mentioned that the Chinese don't see actions the way we do and said orbital debris was a good example.
Listener Jeff in Boston sent in a note concerning Space Force leadership given the removing of an officer for his commenting on what he thought was a "new" direction being put on the Space Force having nothing to do with the Space Force or Air Force mission. Chris attempted to answer the question so do hear his reply. The last question that came in was about the recent release of the declassified UAP report re Tic Tac sightings by the Navy. Chris did not have any information on it.
Please post your comments/questions on the blog for this show. You can reach Chris Stone through me or the Mitchell Institute, https://mitchellaerospacepower.org/contact-us.