Space war is not science fiction
We began 2019 on this blog by warning that the acceleration of the space race was nothing more than a new expression of rising militarism and preparations for the generalization and globalization of war. Space was once again the next frontier... of imperialism and the nuclear race.
The only "new frontier" towards which capitalism is leading us is that of war. The American "private" space race, the "visions" of Elon Musk, the Mohave hacker world.... in the end had only one customer: the military.
Until recently the militarization of space, especially the Earth orbit, was focused on control, surveillance and deployment of territory, fundamental to 21st century warfare. This is the phase that now "small" countries, but no less imperialist than the central national capitals, have entered, such as Morocco or Colombia. This does not mean, however, that the big ones do not risk and push for the creation of new ad-hoc satellite launching bases in eventual scenarios of conflict. This is what China is doing in Portugal.
Other countries such as India are moving beyond that phase and starting to organize manned missions whose ultimate goal is to build and manage more complex permanent structures. For what? To permanently "weaponize" space, i.e. to place their weapons in orbit and beyond. 2018 was a key year in that process. Iran announced having placed missile launchers in orbit, China has a space-military program focused precisely on weaponizing space and the propaganda around it already fills the most widely read popular fiction in the country. And the US announced with all pomp the creation of a new space army in competition with new technologies and new Russian supersonic missiles... an example the Chinese is following.
The military space race accelerates, 1/1/2019
Four years later, the war in Ukraine has confirmed that this tendency had a long way to go and that, far from stagnating, it continues to accelerate.
The Ukrainian war and the imperialist struggle over the earth's orbit
On the purely arms-related side, the end of the year was marked by the Russian deployment of Iskander hypersonic missiles in Belarus, their intensive use against Ukraine and the first South Korean launch of what appear to be the precursors of something equivalent. Hypersonic arsenals are today already the main vector of the arms race between China, the US and Russia.
And when it comes to the reports of the year, all analysts (and propagandists) highlight the fundamental role played by the rapid deployment of Elon Musk's Starlink satellites for the Ukrainian army to contain and defeat the first Russian offensive. China identified the threat early on and put its best researchers to work on technologies to shoot down these massive networks while developing rockets to launch its own.
Meanwhile, the U.S. incorporated such networks into its plans to colonize the Moon... for the sake of militarism.
The constellation would consist of 24 satellites in 4 different lunar orbits. The ultimate goal is to provide "5G-like capabilities" throughout the Moon (i.e., fast connections, low latencies, and high bandwidths), perhaps bolstered by cell phone towers on the lunar surface, and a robust link to Earth .
The problem? In expectation of an imperialist distribution of the Earth's satellite, the first to arrive gains the upper hand when it comes to capturing positions, the electromagnetic spectrum and the link with the new encryption and quantum communication systems that begin to reach the orbit of our planet. The race to the Moon, is on.
Towards the militarization of the Moon
Design of U.S. military base on the Moon published by NASA.
The new race to the Moon has been one of the protagonists of 2022. China successfully launched the third phase of its orbital station and successfully rotated its crew. It makes no secret of its goal for 2028 - the year in which it expects to have its military ready for a war against the US - to have a base on the Moon with a nuclear power plant ready and operational. Nor it is any secret that most of the growth of Beijing's planned atomic arsenal will be in orbit.
Russia and the US have similar goals. Moscow this year presented its orbital station project as a first step toward its own military base on the Moon. Washington, which fantasizes about an almost fully robotic lunar military base, this year sold the landing of the unmanned Artemis module on the Moon as a decisive step toward lunar colonization. The experiments and nanosatellites carried by the spacecraft corroborate this.
This is not, as the media have sold it, about preparing for the colonization of Mars, but about preparing for war on Earth... by securing control of circumlunar space and what the various military commanders call near space.
So up until the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February, China was fine-tuning jamming systems while Russia was testing anti-satellite missiles... to the chagrin of Germans and Chinese who saw their own devices endangered by the waves of space debris they produce upon impact. A warning of the chaos that would almost immediately produce an armed response to Moscow's military deployment of Starlink, which fortunately, did not make good on its implied threat.
A race for access to markets and investment destinations that reflect imperialist conflict on the surface
The US, China and Russia are not alone in their space race. Iran is also trying to assert itself in the space war... in its own arms race against the Emirates, a regional pioneer in the military-space effort which is also planning a lunar base of its own.
Meanwhile, Germany, Italy and France are trying not to be left out... of the capital market that massive military investments represent. Therefore, it seems that they want to specialize as suppliers of energy supply services in orbit to the US military and have laid the foundations of their own quantum satellite communication structure. A market that could be joined by other US allies such as Korea, which began 2022 by getting fully involved in the military space race and this year launched its first lunar mission as part of a specific space militarism program.
Also the demand side of space services expresses the imperialist struggle for markets on the ground: Russia sells Glonass - its alternative to GPS - to countries like Mexico or Brazil that have serious reasons not to depend on the US for control of their territory. China seems to be finding its own market in Africa.
Nor is this our Moon, nor will NASA's Mars be our red planet.
NASA illustration fantasizing about the forms of an early colonization of Mars.
This second race to the Moon is not essentially different from the first. The only difference being that if during the 1960s the race featured only two rivals - the US and Russia - now the two main rivals - the US and China - are not alone.
It could not be otherwise. In the hands of today's capitalism, technical and scientific development is resolved in anti-human militarism and not in the liberation of Humanity's capabilities. This is still not our Moon.
In their hands, the most promising scientific advances are resolved against the man of today and are an aggression to the future of culture. They do not touch the moon except to better enslave the people.
Alongside the latter, we revolutionaries continue to ask for the moon. From life to death and from death to life we will not cease until we obtain it. The Russian or American reactionaries will never attain it, because that moon, the moon of Man, presupposes the suppression of armies and police, of nations and classes, and must begin with the uprising of the people against their respective rocket and bomb-making governments. Our moon is world revolution and world socialism. Once science and all cultural activities are placed at the service of the needs and within the reach of all human beings, man will discover himself and outside himself he will be able to explore the most distant galaxies. In the meantime, we must tirelessly denounce the tremendous danger that science represents in the hands of Moscow and Washington.
G. Munis. «This is not our moon», 1960