Wednesday, President Bush announced the first official update to the National Space Policy in over a decade. Unsurprisingly, the standoffish document (download it here) is garnering negative reactions for its "with us or against us" treatment of space militarization. Most notable among these reactions was the one communicated by former vice president Al Gore during his lunch address at Thursday's Wirefly X Prize Executive Summit in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Here's a bit of what he had to say:
“Very few people have analyzed the insides of this new space policy. I urge all of you who are interested in space to analyze it very carefully. It has the potential, down the road, to create the [same] kind of fuzzy thinking and chaos in our efforts to exploit the space resource as the fuzzy thinking and chaos the Iraq policy has created in Iraq. It is a very serious mistake, in my opinion.
“We in the United States of America may claim that we alone can determine who goes into space and who doesn’t, what it’s used for and what it’s not used for, and we may claim it effectively as our own dominion to the exclusion, when we wish to exclude others, of all others. That’s hubristic.”
In the document's most telling passage, the United States pledges its commitment to the "use of outer space by all nations for peaceful purposes." Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Next sentence: "Consistent with this principle, 'peaceful purposes' allow U.S. defense- and intelligence-related activities in pursuit of national interests." The idea seems to be that everyone should use space peacefully, but if we happen to deem it necessary to destroy another nation's communications satellites with any one of the numerous anti-satellite weapon systems the U.S. is currently developing, well, tough cookies. Watch PopSci's exclusive video of Gore's speech below. —John Mahoney and Megan Miller
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.