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Guest: Chris Stone: Topics: U.S. national security space, the announcement of the China's hypersonic nuclear guide missile weapon, hypersonic technology, nuclear thermal rockets, kinetic kill weapons, weapons in space, Defense Authorization Act, U.S. weapons gap with China, Russian hypersonic weapons program.
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We welcomed back to the show Chris Stone for important U.S. national security space updates plus a discussion on the newly announced Chinese hypersonic nuclear guide missile. As it turned out, most of this program focused on the Chinese hypersonic weapon, a probable Russian similar weapon and the national security situation facing the U.S. because we have no current similar weaponry or deterrent capability. Chris spent significant time with us on the processes used by our intelligence agencies in finding out about these weapons plus how government, including the administration and congress, create policy to deal with the threat, assuming they believe it to be a threat. I posted two important articles on our blog, both penned by our guest on this subject so please read them as both are on our blog for this show. They help to explain a lot about what all this means and why it is or at least should be important if not critical for us and our allies.
One thing I said to Chris early on was the difficulty I have in our government and the security apparatus saying they were surprised by China's weapon. Or at least the media saying that we have been surprised. I believe at least three years ago, maybe longer, Space Show guests have been calling in on shows or emailing, referencing articles on these weapons for China and Russia, only for the guest to dismiss their questions. Anybody routinely listening to The Space Show would, in my opinion, not have been caught flat footed by this announcement. Maybe some of our guests who dismissed the inquiries but not those from other countries and our own country emailing, posting on the blog or even calling, often with a reference to a credible news story about such weapons. I kept asking Chris how our intelligent services could be surprised if this was on The Space Show at least three years ago, maybe long. Chris did provide an answer but of course who knows if it was THE answer to what appears to be a colossal national security mess up.
Follow the key words for all the topics discussed on the show. Here are the key words for your review: "Christopher (Chris Stone), National Security Space, The Mitchell Institute's Spacepower Advantage Research Center, U.S. Space Force, the National Guard and space, state militia, space and the domestic mission, Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS), American Aerospace Defense Command, China, space race goes nuclear, hypersonic nuclear guide system, deployed above Earth, OST, Mach 5 and greater, Chinese view on use of nuclear weapons, American national security surprised, kinetic energy weapon, Russian testing of hypersonic nuclear guide weapon, Chinese weapon outside Earth's atmosphere, U.S. National Security doctrine, lead time needed for weapons catch up, weapons policy position, the role of Congress, nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) for propulsion, NTR for Cis-lunar development with DARPA, NTR space vehicle fleets, use of low enriched uranium, Defense News Op-Ed (see blog), ICBM and hypersonic speed, lower atmosphere constraints, Kim's excellent technical discussion, MERV warheads, single warhead, legality vs. treaty, heat signature in lower atmosphere issues, heat signature easily detected from space, 3-5 year vulnerability gap, repurposing existing capability to fill short term need, the pending Defense Authorization Act."
Kim had an excellent discussion with Chris with a referral to a video she posted on our blog suggesting the Chinese threat was overrated. Chris explained that the Chinese system does not fly in the atmosphere but in space, hence the term FOB (see the above definition plus read this very simple FOB explanation at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractional_Orbital_Bombardment_System). A FOB is very different than trying to fly a hypersonic vehicle through the atmosphere. Chris did a very good job of explaining it so again, do listen carefully to Kim's discussion with Chris. In addition, there are some online videos of how the FOB would work. Here are a few for your review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jrZ933P-Iw; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADh5y_ltghQ.
Earlier in the show, Ft. Worth John called to talk about the Soviet Union testing of the FOB concept. John also asked our guest if he thought that China was attempting a breakout of their nuclear weapons, especially this increased silo development dispersed around China. Don't miss how Chris responded to John's multiple questions and comments. Another topic of interest was introduced by Ben who asked about lead times to create a policy or correct for a bad or dangerous policy. Chris spent time with us going through the policy process. The bottom line was that a lead time might range from 1-3 years but for the near term, one might be able to repurpose existing capabilities to at least somewhat fill for the gap created by the bad or dangerous policy. Chris had much to say about repurposing for the short term. Next, Dr. Dewar called and brought up the importance and capability of developing the nuclear thermal rocket (NTR). This opened up an entirely different line for our discussion. Don't miss what Chris and Jim talked about regarding nuclear rockets, cislunar development, DARPA projects an d more.
Several listeners brought up the Outer Space Treaty and the ban on weapons in space. Also, the legality issue of a FOB. Chris talked about the FOB in comparison to using a kinetic kill weapon which would not be nuclear. Part of this discussion focused on detecting heat signatures in the low atmosphere as compared to detecting them by our satellite resources. Before our program close, Chris did a short summary of our discussion but also suggested we needed to get the new Defense Authorization Act signed into law, something that has not yet happened.
Please post your comments/questions for Chris Stone on our blog for this show. You can reach Chris through me, our blog or the Mitchell Institute.