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[] US-Militärs diskutieren Weltraumflugzeuge - auch bewaffnet,

General Ralph "Ed" Eberhart, von dem die meisten Zitate hier stammen,
ist immerhin der Kommandeur des US Space Command in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs Gazette, April 10, 2002 

Military explores space planes 

Vehicle could drop bombs, fix satellites, general says

By John Diedrich The Gazette 

The military is looking into building a spacecraft that could drop bombs
from space, fix orbiting satellites and give better pictures of the
battlefield, the top
space officer said Tuesday. 

If a military space plane becomes a reality, it would be the first time
the United
States has put weapons in space. 

The Pentagon has military satellites that provide navigation,
weather, reconnaissance and missile warning information, all considered
key to
how the United States fights war. But none of them has weapons. 

Gen. Ed Eberhart, head of U.S. Space Command, Air Force Space Command
and NORAD - all based in Colorado Springs - says the military needs a
space plane. 

"A reusable launch vehicle will be the key to operating and conquering
the space frontier," Eberhart said at the 18th annual National Space
Symposium at The Broadmoor hotel, an annual exposition of commercial,
military and civilian space issues. About 3,800 people attended. 

NASA scrapped plans to build a spacecraft called the X-33 a year ago, in
part, because of cost overruns. Eberhart said the military is interested
in that spacecraft, but its version would be different. It might be
designed to run without humans on board and to land in the oceans, he

A military space plane quickly could provide surveillance in areas of
the world that become important to the Pentagon, he said. Moving
satellites for better surveillance now can take days. 

It could fix or refuel satellites in orbit, which isn't a current option
for the military. The plane also could bomb a target in a matter of
hours, instead of the 17 hours it takes for a conventional bomber to
travel halfway around the world. 

"(A space plane) has a lot of possibilities, a lot of applications in
every one of our missions," Eberhart said. 

The space plane is only an idea and studying it doesn't mean the United
States has decided to put weapons in space, said Army Maj. Barry
Venable, spokesman for U.S. Space Command. 

"We aren't doing our job if we don't look at things like this and think
about it," he said. 

Some critics of Space Command have said a space plane that drops bombs
would be in violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which says "space
will be used for peaceful purposes." But Venable said "peaceful
purposes" has been interpreted to mean nonaggressive acts. In other
words, weapons can be put in space to defend a nation and its assets, he

Also Tuesday, Eberhart said information from military satellites may be
useful for local police and other first responders in the war on

"Over time we can leverage our space assets to support homeland security
and law enforcement," Eberhart said, noting there is no such proposal
yet. "A lot of it hinges on cooperation." 

The general didn't give examples, but Venable said later satellite
information could help fire departments track the spread of chemical or
biological agents released by terrorists, provide police with more
accurate city maps or give emergency workers better communications. 

"We need to look for ways to make this information available for the
local guys as well," Venable said.

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