Captain Mark Kelly, an Arizona state senatorial candidate, has an impressive track record. He flew combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. He has flown the space shuttle four times, twice as a mission commander.
However, Kelly’s views on space policy, a subject she should be familiar with given her former profession, are problematic.
Kelly opposed the creation of the United States Space Force. About two years ago the former astronaut tweeted, “This is a stupid idea. The Air Force already does that. This is their job. What’s next, let’s move the submarines to the 7th branch and call it the” submarine force? “”
The report from the United States National Security Space Management and Organization Evaluation Commission published in January 2001 contradicts Kelly. The report concluded that the Air Force considered space operations secondary to its primary mission of waging war in the air. The report recommended the creation of a “Space Corps” within the Air Force and a separate military department to oversee space operations.
President TrumpDonald John Trump North Korea unveils large ICBM at military parade Trump is no longer considered a risk to transmit COVID-19, doctor says New Trump campaign announcement features Fauci MORE and the United States Congress, on a bipartisan basis, created the Space Force because it recognized that space warfare had become distinct from air combat. With China and Russia creating weapons to target American space assets, the need for a separate branch of service to deal with the threat became more evident.
NASA Administrator Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) NASA’s Frederick Bridenstine Bridenstine: We’re really going to the lunar south pole NASA publishes Artemis’ plan to land first woman, next man on the moon NASA is in the moon rock market MORE supported the establishment of the Space Force. NASA recently signed an agreement with the Space Force to cooperate in several areas of mutual interest, including “human spaceflight, US space policy, space transportation, standards and best practices for safe space operations, scientific research and defense.” planetary “.
Kelly also opposes NASA’s Artemis moon return program. The Daily Beast notes that he said, “We should just go straight to Mars. Forget the moon. We’ve been there. We’ve already.”
The idea that the United States has to leave the moon because American astronauts visited it six times 50 years ago is ridiculous. The moon not only contains many opportunities to do science, but it also contains valuable resources that could fuel a space-based industrial revolution. The international Artemis Alliance has already garnered a lot of soft political power for the United States.
The moon, according to an MIT study, may play a crucial role in human missions to Mars. The lunar poles contain hundreds of millions of tons of water ice that can be refined into rocket fuel. A spacecraft headed to Mars, instead of taking all the fuel it needs directly from Earth, can fill the moon’s orbit before proceeding. Stopping close to the moon would save 68% of the mass of a ship on Mars, hence a large amount of launch costs.
Bridenstine pointed out that the moon offers a place just three days away to test Mars exploration technology and techniques. Mars is six months or a year away, so it would be prudent to just test on the moon first.
Why should Kelly, a former Navy aviator and astronaut, have such views on space policy? His opposition to a separate Space Force and the Artemis lunar program appears to come from a mindset that is stuck in the past. The astronauts will not just go out to plant the flag, walk around alien worlds collecting stones and return to the ribbon parades. They will go to those unknown places to stay, to do science, to start businesses, extract resources and create a space-based economy. The infrastructure that will be created on the Moon, Mars, asteroids and beyond will have to be defended from enemy action.
If Kelly is elected to the United States Senate, he will only be one of 100 senators. But, due to his background, he will likely sit on committees that oversee military and / or space policy. It would therefore be a good thing if he learned about the reality of space and military policy in the 21st century.
Not surprisingly, three former astronauts, Tom Stafford, Charlie Duke and Jack Lousma, supported Kelly’s opponent. Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyKey May See Election Night Delays Biden, Harris To Visit Arizona Thursday In First Joint Campaign Stopping Biden Wide Lead In Post-Debate Polls Leaving Republicans In Panic MORE (R-Ariz.). The three did not mention Kelly’s views on space policy, but said, “But having ‘astronaut’ on your resume doesn’t mean you’d be a good US senator.” The assessment is certainly true due to the candidate’s opposition to the Space Force and the Artemis program.
Mark Whittington, who often writes about space and politics, has published a political study on space exploration entitled Why is it so hard to go back to the moon? as well as the Moon, Mars and Beyond. He has a blog on Curmudgeons Corner. It is published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, USA Today, LA Times, and Washington Post, among other locations.