Another debate has broken out concerning the Chinese space program, the moon, and space as the military high ground. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., was on one side. On the other side is Stephen Smith, a political consultant and space blogger,
What Posey said
Posey, in an interview with Florida Today, claimed that China and Russia intend to colonize the moon, claiming it as a military high ground. He noted the test of a Chinese anti satellite weapon that jeopardized the International Space Station by creating swarms of space junk, as evidence of the Beijing government's bad intentions. He also noted the debate on an American moon colony during the Republican primary which Newt Gingrich supported and Ron Paul and the presumptive nominee opposed.
Stephen Smith responds
Smith responded that Posey had no military background, implying that he was not competent to comment on military matters. Smith does not list any military experience in his own biography. He claimed that the Chinese were only conducting studies for a manned lunar effort. He attacked the idea that a military base on the moon would prove to be a threat to the United States, noting that it would be easier to attack American targets from other points on the Earth. In any case, Smith claimed, the Chinese would not destroy a country that is its biggest debtor.
The moon as the military high ground
The idea of the moon as a platform for a military base was first broached in the 1950s as part of Project Horizon. The idea was that the moon could be used to fire nuclear warheads at targets on the Earth. The idea was given up as being impractical.
More recently, STRATFOR's George Friedman, in his book "The Next 100 Years," suggested that bases on the moon's far side could be used to launch warheads disguised as space junk to attack an enemy's space assets. Taylor Dinerman, writing for the Stonegate Institute, suggested that the moon was a space-based Gibraltar and could be used to deny access to space by other countries. Dinerman did not specify how this might be.
Control of lunar resources
The moon is also rich with resources, including water and Helium 3. Water can be used to not only sustain a base or a colony, but could be used to create rocket fuel, making the moon into a refueling stop for spacecraft headed into deep space. Helium 3 could be used to power future fusion power plants. A military base on the moon could be used to control these and any other resources the moon might have.
Mark R. Whittington is the author of Children of Apollo and The Last Moonwalker. He has written on space subjects for a variety of periodicals, including The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, USA Today, the L.A. Times, and The Weekly Standard.