Protests Against Militarization of Outer Space

by Dennis O'Brien

Protests at Space Symposium: The space law conference in Colorado in April 2018 was part of a much larger
Space Symposium, an annual four-day event for leaders of government, military, industry, and academia. It is
held at The Broadmoor, a five-star hotel and country club located in Colorado Springs, home of the Air Force
Academy. It is very pricey: attending all the events and dinners would cost over $3,000 (the space law
segment, an “affiliated” event, was $225). This is where the elite gather to network and promote their
products/services/agendas. Monday also featured a speech by V.P. Mike Pence, who chairs the National
Space Council.

The protesters were concerned about the militarization of outer space. This is not a stretch: one of the pricey
meals at the Symposium was called “The Space Warfighters Luncheon”. About 40% of the presentations were
classified, “by invitation only”. And even though the Outer Space Treaty forbids placing weapons in space, the
current administration has called for the creation of a new branch of the military, the “Space Force”, to achieve
“total military superiority” in outer space.

I came upon the protesters as I was leaving the space law conference. There were a lot of plain-clothes
security people, and I was not allowed to park nearby. I did manage to stop briefly and take some pictures
with telephoto lens before being told to move along. As I drove by I gave one of the protesters some fliers that
I had made for the conference supporting the Moon Treaty. As I drove away I honked several times in support,
and they waved back in appreciation. Such is the dynamics of modern-day street protest.

My search of the web suggests that this story did not make the news, not even the local news. But the
protesters did record their event and have posted a video online, available at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=vnffX6X2_8w. The comments on that page include their statement of concerns.

The protesters were somewhat prescient.  At the next meeting of the National Space Council, Vice-President
Pence announced that "Space is a warfighting domain. . . . It is not enough to have an American presence in
space; we must have an American domination of space."

One of the reasons I support the Moon Treaty is that it requires nations to consider the interests of all humanity
when making decisions about the exploration and use of outer space, not just economic and military interests.
This topic will be explored further in my report on the space law conference itself [see article "Space Law
2018: Nationalists vs Internationalists" on this website].