THE SPACE SCRAPBOOK: TEXAS SPACE FACILITIES, AND A HIGH OCTANE ...May 7, 2015
It has now been about two weeks since we started all these blogs about space matters, beginning with that strange article from RT about spy satellites disguised as "space junk" and their strange turn of phrase that these satellites were "state affiliated." Much to my surprise, the space-related articles continue to pour in from various people, so space does seem, for whatever reason, to be on everyone's mind. This article in particular, shared by Mr. S.D., caught my attention for one very significant reason:
Consider carefully the implications of those five opening paragraphs:
"An isolated edge of vast West Texas is home to a highly secretive part of the 21st-century space race, one of two being directed in the Lone Star State by Internet billionaires whose personalities and corporate strategies seem worlds apart.
"The presence of Blue Origin, LLC, the brainchild of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, barely registers in nearby Van Horn, a way station along Interstate 10, a full decade after he began buying land in one of Texas' largest and most remote counties.
"Few visitors are allowed beyond the "No Trespassing" sign and a remote-controlled gate and into the desert and mountain environment reminiscent of the Air Force's renowned Area 51 in Nevada. The privileged who do get inside decline to describe what they've seen, typically citing confidentiality agreements.
"'No one gets in other than employees,' says Robert Morales, editor of the weekly Van Horn Advocate newspaper.
"At the opposite end — of Texas and the competition — is the highly visible SpaceX venture, led by PayPal co-founder and electric car maker Elon Musk. His company contracts with NASA to resupply the International Space Station and is building a launch site about 600 miles from Van Horn, on the southernmost Texas Gulf coast, with the much-publicized goal of sending humans to Mars." (Emphases added)
Now, before we ponder these statements, consider the context of our blogs over the past couple of weeks: the spy-satellites disguised as space junk with "state affiliations," then the story about the US and Japan being concerned about such satellites too, then the story about zapping space junk out of the aether with lasers, then the Russians releasing fuzzy pictures of an American spy satellite taken with ground based lasers, and all the messages implied in that (including the message "if we can snap it, we can probably zap it"), and then the very bizarre stories about NASA accidentally discovering a possible space warping effect in its tests of the so-called EM drive, and the even more bizarre fact - as I pointed out - that the experimental tests on that engine weren't conducted in high vacuum to begin with ... well, the total context seems to indicate that something quite major is happening with respect to space, and this story may be yet another clue.
Consider only the strange dialectical construct of the story: this facility is "highly visible," that one "highly secret"; this one is in the east part of Texas, that one in the west, the east part is populated, the west part is not, and so on. One is perhaps tempted to see in this dialectical construction an allusion to the public programs and "secret" or "breakaway civilization" and its "secret space program," which, suggestively, the article might be implying was privatized a long time ago. After all, one effect of the US government pouring such vast funds into such a program over a prolonged period of time would simply be to give the corporations developing any putative secret space technologies not only enormous power through the sheer funding requirements of such a program, but an enormous technological advantage.
So we come to the part of the article that (in the large context of what we've been blogging about for the past couple of weeks) gave me pause, and that is the secrecy of the "Blue Origin" private spaceport,a concern that the article itself compares to the secrecy surrounding Area 51:
"'It's very secretive out there,' said Maricel Gonzalez, chief appraiser for the Culberson County Appraisal District. She declined to describe it, citing a nondisclosure agreement. A UPS driver who recently emerged from the compound also declined to talk.
"Nuny Morriss, a Van Horn city council member and FedEx delivery driver, said the site includes a 'big warehouse-looking building and some offices ... But they don't let us go around in the back.'
"Blue Origin's presence in Van Horn is minimal. Morriss recalled word getting out a few years ago about a scheduled launch. Traffic at the local airstrip suggested that VIPs were coming in, and local officials were eager to join them.'No one in town got invited,'Morriss said."
One wonders precisely how a county tax assessor can make any valid tax assessments when she has to sign non-disclosure agreements, but we digress. What is pertinent here is the "small footprint" being left locally, in contrast to the noise surrounding Elon Musk's venture in the eastern part of the state. Why the secrecy?
One reason might be that the curiously named "Blue Origin" site might be a kind of codeword or project name. Might it, for example, be launching private corporate spy satellites disguised as space junk, one of the scenarios I suggested for the curiously worded RT article? Might this be one of the "state affiliated" enterprises that the RT article was referring to? There's another possibility as well, and it's one that, if one has been paying attention, should be cause for concern. We are being told that these private space ventures are developing this or that version of standard chemical rockets. But, with NASA and other people and agencies - including CHina - testing the EM drive, does it not stand to reason that some more exotic technologies could be being tested at this site?
We'll never know, of course, but there's one final possibility that looms large over all of this, and one almost hesitates to mention it. By current space law and treaty, the weaponization of space is prohibitted.
But no corporation signed those treaties, and even though they may by certain interpretations of the law be subject to them, corporations haven't been showing much regard for the laws of the countries they do business in lately. It only stands to reason that they might decide to protect their own space assets with their own versions of privatized (and in this case, space-based) security.
See you on the flip side.