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The Army's Stake in Emerging Space Technologies

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Journal article

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On 29 May 1940 in Washington, D.C., Robert A. Goddard, the father of American rocketry, briefed representatives of the Army Air Corps, Army Ordnance, and the Navy. He urged that unmanned rockets could deliver more explosives, more accurately than manned bombers. His audience was courteous but unimpressed--certainly unmanned rockets could never thus outperform manned bombers Almost half a century later, the importance of space technology to military operations is no longer subject to such doubt. The 1988 Military Posture Statement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff states that space-based systems have clearly demonstrated their value in support of the planning and execution of US military operations, thereby contributing to deterrent and defense capabilities. US space systems currently support multiple peacetime and wartime military activities critical to national security. These include command-control-communications, navigation, meteorology, oceanography, weather reporting, geodesy, ballistic missile attack warning, surveillance, and treaty monitoring. It is likely that by the mid-1990s military applications of space technology will extend to precision-guided weaponry, secure communications in the conduct of conventional or nuclear war, and computer-assisted battlefield management. Moreover, the deployment of weapons in space capable of supporting ground, sea, and air combat operations as early as the turn of the century is a technological possibility. The conduct of war in space itself is a distinct possibility in the 21st century. The Soviet space program underscores the military importance of space. Although the Soviet Union is less militarily dependent on space-based support systems than the United States, the Soviets nonetheless invest 20 billion a year in military space activities versus the annual 8 billion investment of the United States.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Astronautics

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