US Refuses to Sign Space Arms Race Prevention Treaty While Ramping Up Hypersonic Rocket Tests

Friday, 26 January 2018 - 12:06PM
Friday, 26 January 2018 - 12:06PM
US Refuses to Sign Space Arms Race Prevention Treaty While Ramping Up Hypersonic Rocket Tests
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Image credit: YouTube

In the modern era of advanced technology, old-world nostalgia is incredibly fashionable.

Vinyl record players are popular yet again, movies are soaked in '80s visuals, and the Cold War is back with a vengeance. America is currently gearing up for an anticipated arms race with Russia and China, as three of the world's greatest superpowers rush to create the coolest Star Wars style space weapons.

The developing space travel technology that will soon make space tourism a reality is something of a double-edged sword, as anything that grants greater access to our planet's orbit can also be used to drop explosive things on distant countries with less fear of fallout.

This week, Russian and Chinese diplomats have been lambasting America for refusing to sign the aptly titled Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) treaty. Indeed, the US is moving forward with tests of all kinds of terrifying weapons, most notably hypersonic rockets.

Air travel is currently being rethought as various aeronautics organizations worldwide investigate affordable methods to get planes to move significantly faster than the speed of sound for long-haul commercial journeys. Hypersonic weapons are essentially a real-world equivalent to the infamous Holdo Maneuver from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as a bomb would launch down onto a target faster than the speed of sound from outer space, causing widespread devastation with little to no warning.

This is just one of the fun new tools of destruction that can be created by sending otherwise benign new technology up into orbit. Powerful lasers have a lot of benefits to medical and scientific causes, but they can just as easily be turned into a makeshift Death Star above the planet's surface.

Basically, anything that's ever turned up in a Star Wars movie is fair game in the modern era of our very literal space war, and nobody wants to be the Ewoks, stuck fighting with the equivalent of bows and arrows while their opponents have lightsabers.

A large part of the reason why the US is unwilling to sign the PAROS treaty is because, as is standard for any Cold War, there's a constant suspicion that other countries won't actually stick to the promise of not weaponizing space.

According to General John Hyten, the head of US Strategic Command:

Opening quote
"They've been building weapons, testing weapons, building weapons to operate from the Earth in space, jamming weapons, laser weapons, and they have not kept it secret."
Closing quote

On the one hand, these satellite-launched superweapons are preferable to nuclear war because there's significantly less fallout, but there is the danger that once the threat of global contamination is removed, it'll be more likely that countries will get trigger happy with their new orbital toys. Everyone's eyeing each other with suspicion on the global stage, as America, China, and Russian are all trapped in an enormous Mexican standoff, trying not to blink as they rush to stockpile the most advanced explosives imaginable.

It's no wonder the Doomsday Clock just ticked forward.