The militarisation of space, or at least near-Earth space, has long been a matter of serious concern for warhawks and peaceniks, and has given rise to a number of conspiracy theories of the sort that got Gary McKinnon into so much trouble.
The extent to which the world’s militaries have taken the fight out of the atmosphere remains something of an unknown to those of us not privy to their secrets. Sure, we know that there are dozens, if not hundreds of military satellites whirling around the planet, some of which may now be capable of destroying other satellites. We also know that just over the horizon (or at least the visible horizon) wait the next generation of manned and unmanned spaceplanes, like the Boeing X-37B and DARPA’s Falcon (pictured above). Some of these may soon emerge as real nuts and bolts vehicles, others will forever be gleaming pies in the sky.
But what are we to make of this titbit, revealed in the 18 March 2011 issue of Private Eye? A short article on the editorial page details some of the recent arms sales to Libya approved by the UK’s Foreign Office. Alongside the usual roster of military transport aircraft, APCs, tear gas, smoke grenades, water cannons, machine guns, tanks, night vision equipment and the like is a listing, from July and September of 2010, for ‘spacecraft’.
Unfortunately the article doesn’t mention the spacecrafts’ country, or planet, of origin, but I’m certainly curious to know what they were. Sensible suggestions in the comments box please!