Do You Believe Environmentalists Or The CEO Looking To Make Millions?


On September 24, Bruce Gagnon and I gave a talk at Maine’s big Common Ground Fair on the proposal to build a rocket launch site off the coast of Maine at Steuben. Bruce coordinates an international organization paying attention to the militarization of space for the last several decades, the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space,  and understands the context for the proposal to build a rocket launch site near Acadia National Park.

Although our 9am talk was sparsely attended we got none other than Sascha Deri himself, CEO of bluShift Aerospace, who interrupted me to claim that I was sharing false information. Having taught high school for years, I did not allow Deri to derail my presentation; but he and others in the audience participated in a lively Q & A session after my remarks. (Video of the entire presentation including the disruption is being processed and will be available later this week.)

Deri’s most amazing revelation in response to Gagnon’s question about his funding sources: bluShift Aerospace has taken money from the U.S. Space Force! Remember that the next time you see or hear claims that a rocket launch site in Maine would only be used for research and educational purposes, not for military payloads.

Banner by Cynthia Howard

We hung our banners on the outside of the Social & Political Action tents at the invitation of a fair official, and then did some more outreach work with organizations like Dark Sky, WERU, and Community Water Justice.

Design by Elizabeth Olbert

The following day Donovan Lynch of NewsCenterMaine called me for an interview about opposition to the plan to launch 30+ rockets each summer off the coast of Steuben, rockets that are as tall as a mature White Pine. He also interviewed Deri and Steuben-based seaweed harvester Larch Hanson about environmental concerns: “Downeast rocket launch site promises industry boom, worrying environmentalists.”

Screenshot showing Kenny Cole’s climate collapse-themed print “Last Run” in the background

Included in his report was the news that bluShift is seeking FAA approval, and a prediction that two years from now rocket launches might commence.

Who are you inclined to believe about probable environmental harms of the launch site project: the CEO looking to make millions, environmentalists who live in Maine, or Gagnon with extensive knowledge of the effects of rocket launch sites all over the planet? 

You can read Bruce Gagnon’s blog post about our talk at the fair here.

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*To order one of the cool “Don’t take the peace out of space” hoodies we’re wearing in the photo at the top, visit: Global Network’s store at Kudos to the British GN team for this awesome design!

Congested & Contested: Space Wars Are Upon Us

Free download here

When the Pentagon’s think tank, the RAND corporation, publishes a study it’s worth paying attention. Remarkable in their prescience, RAND reports accurately predicted the Ukraine war and the Iraq war

Consider, for instance, their recent study of what Chinese and Russian primary sources had to say about 10 key events in the U.S. space program 1985-2011. The authors described how the U.S. had others on the planet riled up by

the establishment of the U.S. Space Force in 2019, and multiple policy and warfighting documents have rapidly followed. Given this activity and the concerns raised in domestic and international fora[sic] regarding the increasingly congested and contested nature of space, there has been surprisingly little open-source analysis of Chinese and Russian perceptions of these developments. [emphasis mine]

Findings included that neither Russia nor China appears to believe U.S. space programs are not military in nature (no kidding), and that the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in 2002 was viewed by both as a turning point after which a more aggressive stance was evident

Here’s the list of all the events for which reactions were collected:

• Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) (1983) and U.S. Space Command creation (1985) 

• President Bill Clinton’s National Space Policy (1996) 

• Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL) test (1997) 

• Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and 

Organization (“Rumsfeld Commission”) (2001) 

• U.S. withdrawal from Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty (2002) 

• U.S. Air Force (USAF) Counterspace Operations doctrine (2004) 

• President George W. Bush’s National Space Policy (2006) 

• Operation Burnt Frost (2008) 

• President Barack Obama’s National Security Space Policy (2011) 

RAND also observed that Russia had more national pride invested in space technology and achievements, while China appeared to study Western space tech mostly with an eye to understanding it. They did not necessarily want to build something better themselves. However, China did successfully shoot down their own satellite recently after the U.S. did so in 2008.

The authors appeared to believe it was harder for Americans to understand Chinese nuance and societal expectations than Russian attitudes. For instance, some of the events on their list of 10 were little noted at all in Chinese publications they surveyed, while other events not on the list received significant attention in “native-language primary sources, such as..government publications, military journals, academic reports, and domestic media.”

RAND also appeared to be setting up conditions for further curtailments of free speech in the U.S. and Europe as there were multiple references to China and Russia taking note of Western voices critical of their own countrys’ space programs. 

Draconian anti-protest laws  just passed in the UK are a harbinger, no doubt, as the declining West struggles to manage the narrative.

From the What’s Happening feed on my Twitter account this morning:

A report from 2000 may be of interest too. With it looking like Taiwan could become the next Ukraine, maybe I’ll find time to read RAND’s Dire Strait: Military Aspects of the China-Taiwan Confrontation and Options for U.S. Policy.