Experts warn: "He who rules space will rule the earth!" Ironically, the one who actually rules space today will rule the earth tomorrow.
THINK of it! A few years ago no one seriously thought of outer space as a new line of military defense. Now it is big news, especially with the publicity surrounding the United States plan for a "Strategic Defense Initiative," popularly referred to, especially by its critics, as the "Star Wars" system. Outer space, it was thought, would remain free from weapons, whether defensive or offensive. Mankind could safely explore, discover and someday colonize the heavens. Scientific seers told us of the potential benefits of space exploration to humankind: Orbiting space stations would provide an environment for developing improved vaccines and other biological products of higher quality and purity than can be achieved on earth. Following closely would be space industrialization. Then the construction of space platforms serving as launching and docking facilities for trips into deep space. Then space colonization, first of the moon, then possibly Mars. Our scientific seers said — and most people believed — the exploration of space would transcend power struggles on earth. But the prospects of orbiting spy stations, antisatellite weapons and particle beams have changed all that. Gone are the dreams that through cooperative effort the United States and the Soviet Union would enhance the prospects of space exploration. That by continued togetherness, a mutual trust would develop. Just as the airplane opened the skies to warfare, space exploration makes possible the birth of a whole new generation of weaponry. Until now, space weapons remained relatively hidden in articles appearing in technical journals, not widely read by the general public. The person on the street, if asked, seemed blissfully unaware of potential systems of war circling overhead. As most today only now realize, outer space never had a special status as a sanctuary from weapons. What happened?
Satellites Change Our World
Reconnaissance has always played a vital role in military operations. But increasing vulnerability of aircraft forced aerial reconnaissance higher and higher, until today surveillance is routinely conducted from outer space. Sputnik I, launched by the Soviets in 1957, crossed the invisible threshold between air and space. Since then we have witnessed the launchings of hundreds of satellites, the placing of human footprints on the moon, extended periods spent in orbiting laboratories, and probes sent to Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These accomplishments are awesome. They have changed the outlook of us all. Today, satellites interlock our 20th-century society. We rely on satellites for our instantaneous communication, monitoring weather and natural resources, studying the health of crops and water availability, and locating oil and minerals, among numerous other functions. Soon navigators will pinpoint their position within about 50 feet anywhere in the world through a network of satellites. These uses benefit mankind. But from the beginning a quiet military application began. Communication satellites that juggle calls from London to New York can just as easily relay military communications. Satellites photographing crops and rangeland can watch military installations. If navigation spacecraft aid ships in pinpointing their positions to within a hundred yards, they also can guide a navy's nuclear armed submarines. If space stations and platforms can be used for industrial purposes, they can also be used for warfare.
Military Uses' Not New
The media present the proposed Strategic Defense Initiative as a future event about to begin. But the militarization of space technology already is a reality. In 1959 the first launching of military satellites for reconnaissance began. There followed navigation, communication, weather and early warning satellites. Today, orbiting satellites survey the oceans. They track ships and watch port installations, monitoring loading and unloading of cargo. Electronic satellites, called Ferrets, listen in on telephone conversations, military communications and signals from missile tests. Early warning spacecraft hovering in fixed orbit 22,300 miles above the earth detect intercontinental missiles by the heat of their exhausts within seconds of ignition. These give twice the warning time — from 15 minutes to almost 30 minutes — of an impending attack. The major military powers rely upon space information so much that they can no longer wage war effectively without the aid of satellite surveillance. During the Mideast October war in 1973, satellites orbited above the battlefield. Russian satellite photographs finally convinced the Egyptians that the Israelis had the upper hand, and caused the Egyptians to call for a cease fire. The 1982 Falkland Islands war saw expanded use of satellites for military intelligence. Planners now believe that it was a Russian satellite that beamed to the Argentines the exposed position of HMS Sheffield. The Argentines further refined the Sheffield's position and sent the Etendard jets on their way. The whole process took about four hours. The final result was the sinking of the Sheffield. The British took advantage of satellite ' reconnaissance too. It is widely believed that the order to sink the Argentine cruiser Belgrano was beamed to the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror by way of an American military' satellite. Today the entire planet is under some form of constant surveillance. Some experts claim that, if you were now sitting outside your home, powerful space borne cameras could see this very magazine you are holding. Spacecraft aloft watch airfields, launching pads, troop and tank movements. Communications are intercepted and interpreted. These spy satellites are so effective that the "open skies" program first proposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 21, 1955, has become an inevitable reality. He suggested that the United States and Soviet Union open each other's country to unlimited aerial inspection by the other. While Mr. Eisenhower's proposal was turned down by Moscow, what he suggested has nevertheless come to pass. The superpowers routinely inspect each other's territory via satellites. Figures vary, but some claim 95 percent of all Soviet and 86 percent of U.S. satellite launchings are for military purposes. Reliance on space-based information is considered an absolute necessity. As one scientist said, "Whoever controls space, controls the world." Because space systems are so essential to the superpowers, they must be protected. U.S. Air Force Undersecretary Edward Adridge has said: "Our space systems have become essential to our operational forces." And: "We are going to have to defend them." If either superpower were to launch an attack, experts foresee the opening shots would be in space.
Space Weapons Systems
As with the airplane in World War I, space research has moved from the reconnaissance phase to the weapons phase. Science seems ready to confer upon us weapons so powerful, so advanced, so incredible that they seem impossible. Consider the space weapons systems under development, some of which already exist, others of which may be farfetched but reflect current thinking. First of all, is the category of antisatellite weapons (ASAT). These weapons attack reconnaissance satellites. Their purpose is to blind an enemy's eyes-in-the-sky so operations on earth won't be detected: Observers feel their use could signal the first shots fired in a major war. The Soviets' version of the "killer satellite," once put into orbit, is designed to hunt down its target. When within range, the satellite detonates, causing a shrapnel blast like an exploding grenade, destroying its victim. The United States ASAT, still being tested, is quite different from the Soviet system. It involves an air-launched missile. A two-stage, 18-foot-long rocket is strapped to the belly of a modified F-15 fighter plane. After the F-15 launches the rocket from a high altitude zoom-climb, the computer-guided, heat-sensing missile homes in on the target and collides with it — kamikaze style — destroying the prey. The Soviets have effectively shown that killer satellites have a range of about 1,000 miles above the earth. Tests indicate the Soviets could destroy low-altitude reconnaissance, Ferret and navigation satellites. With larger boosters they could conceivably reach the geosynchronous — 22,000 — mile orbit. The U.S. test flights are concentrated against low enemy orbits — 300 miles — above the earth's surface. But ASAT weapons are only the first step into a larger and more deadly world. Since the days of Buck Rogers comics, many have heard about death ray beams. These weapons soon may be a reality. Death rays, or more properly direct energy weapons, use laser or particle beams to destroy satellites or other targets. Both superpowers are researching such weapons. To be effective, a laser or particle beam weapon need not disintegrate its victim. A laser or particle beam only needs to destroy or disrupt one or more on-board computer circuits to render a missile or satellite useless. Many readers themselves know that a cracked or broken distributor on their car renders it inoperative — even though all other parts might work. Destruction of certain parts of the electronic circuits of a spacecraft may blind it — or destroy its ability to navigate to its ground target. Experts envision a laser-equipped satellite shooting a bolt of light at a rising missile or at another satellite. The laser beam-moving at the speed of light — hits its victim, burning a hole in the protective skin or heating it beyond workable temperature. This renders it useless or completely destroys it. A particle beam-equipped satellite shoots a beam of hydrogen atoms. This beam, traveling at 60,000 miles a second, penetrates the metal skin, disrupting completely or destroying the electronic brain. It would be as effective as the laser in destroying its target. Some seers envision a fleet of 100 or so such weapons encircling the earth. Upon detection of a missile launch, they activate. Some claim these defensive weapons would destroy more than 80 percent of attacking missiles. The remaining 20 percent would be attacked by "smart missiles" maneuvering into the path of the incoming warhead, destroying it on impact, something like the American ASAT already described. Some experts say this layered defense system would be 95 percent effective. Electromagnetic railgun satellites fire projectiles. These projectiles traveling at speeds more than 100 kilometers a second easily penetrate the skin of other. satellites or ballistic missiles. Continuing research includes chemical, free — electron lasers and X-ray laser weapons powered by nuclear explosions.
In the detente years of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Soviet leadership made a decision. Soviet leaders decided to legally buy from the West the computer technology they needed, for the most part, rather than developing it for themselves. Now with detente all but ceased, and with it the flow of Western technology, the Soviets find themselves in a dilemma. New-generation weapons rely on high-tech computers, for which the Soviet Union must depend upon the West. The West takes computers pretty much for granted. Its societies and increasingly many non-Western ones — are anchored to the computer. Scientists and engineers tell us we are at the dawn of the age of supercomputers with artificial intelligence-computers that think for themselves. But the Soviets can only look on and watch the West develop these machines. Their system is about eight to 10 years behind. If nothing is done, Soviet experts warn, the East-West gap in technology will become unbridgeable. The Soviet lag in computer technology puts the country at a great disadvantage with modern weapon technologies. The West, led by the United States, could conceivably develop some sort of space defense shield. The Soviet Union could not. This changes the whole balance of power situation.
The Turning Point
Until recently, most space weaponry remained in the imagination of science fiction. The year the U.S. space shuttle became operational, 1982, marked the beginning of easy access to space. As previous shuttle flights demonstrated, the shuttle can launch, retrieve and make repairs to orbiting satellites. Soon shuttle crews will refuel and repair orbiting space systems on a routine basis. Military men view the shuttle as a necessity. They want it to launch, repair and refuel their military satellites, and possibly even steal other nations' orbiting satellites! The shuttle already carries into orbit military cargoes. The Soviets view the U.S. shuttle as a military vehicle. They are now scrambling to catch up and develop their own. A small-scale version is being tested. The Soviet leadership is very aware of U.S. technology. They see U.S. advances in space technology as a great threat to their nation's political hegemony. Even if space defense ultimately proves inadequate, the Soviets fear it nonetheless. They see U.S. debates, funding and testing as advance proof that space weapons could work. It seems unbelievable the Soviet leadership would just sit back and watch the United States deploy any of 100 or more satellites composing a defensive shield capable of destroying the Soviets' nuclear-tipped missiles. Soviet commentaries warn that the Soviet Union will take steps that would render any U.S. anti missile system ineffective. Will the United States or will the Soviet Union begin a hot World War III in space? Make no mistake. The Cold War power struggle between, the superpowers will continue. Both are in a headlong pursuit to outdo one another. Both will attempt to build "a little more" than they really need to defend themselves from attack. But one thing is sure: Bible prophecy reveals no major war will be fought solely between the United States and Soviet Union. This is not to say the United States and Soviets will not be involved in some brushfire war. But World War III will not be fought between these superpowers. Yet world war is coming, triggered from a totally unexpected series of events involving the Mideast and a new Europe. You can read about it in the last few verses of Daniel 11.
Preparing for the Ultimate War
To what incredible use the blossoming space technology can be put is limited solely by human will. History teaches that if man seriously sets out to do something, he will do it unless God intervenes to stop him! This was made evident in events more than 42 centuries ago. At the tower of Babel humanity pooled its resources and tried for the first time on record to reach into the heavens. Humankind started with a tower. Humans would have equaled today's technology long ago had God not slowed them down by dividing them, confusing their language and scattering them over the face of the earth (Gen. 11:1-8). God said at that time: "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them" (verse 6, Revised Standard Version). That is a remarkable statement concerning what humans working together can accomplish. This attitude pervades human thinking. Nothing, it seems, is impossible for man. If given the chance, time, money and resources, he can do anything. If given the chance, man will use space for weapons. Man now has that chance. One can only wonder what part yet undreamed of space warfare technology and weapons will play in some of the end-time cataclysms described in the Bible. Space warfare could account for some of the mysterious terms with which the final crisis at the close of this world's civilization is described in Revelation 9.
World Peace Coming from Outer Space
There is hope. Humankind is not doomed to self-destruction. "If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive," Jesus Christ said 1,900 years ago, "but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened" (Matt. 24:22, New International Version). God will intervene in human affairs by sending his Son Jesus Christ to forcibly stop humanity at the last possible moment from destroying life on earth. Jesus will return with power and glory to reestablish the very government of God over all nations and peoples (Dan. 2:44-45). He will descend from heaven through the very outer space men are trying selfishly to conquer. Wrapped in the clouds, he will come to punish the nations that have dared to use their scientific arsenals for war (Matt. 24:27, 29-31; Rev. 1:7). All weapons building or deployment — including those space based — will no longer be permitted and those that exist will be destroyed or reworked into implements of peace (Isa. 2:2-4). Finally, the world tomorrow that utopian paradise that humans long for — will be ushered in. For a description of the thrilling changes God will bring about in this world after he intervenes in human affairs, read our free booklets The Middle East In Prophecy and The Wonderful World Tomorrow - What It Will Be Like. Then indeed he who actually rules space will rule the earth. Jesus will open to man's understanding how to be happy and have the abundant life.