TULSA — The idea of forming a “Space Force” as a branch of the military gets ridiculed in some circles, but for former Navy pilot and current NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, it’s abundantly clear that America’s enemies see space as a potentially devastating avenue of attack.
His comments came during a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with KRMG from his office in Washington, D.C.
[Hear the entire interview HERE, or use the embedded audio player below]
“Our very way of life in this country is dependent on space, in a way that most Americans don’t recognize,” Bridenstine said Friday. “And it’s an existential threat, if we were to lose space, it would be an existential threat to our country.”
He ticked off just a few of the many systems that rely heavily on a timing signal from the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system.
“Every banking transaction in the United States is dependent upon a timing signal from GPS. That means if we lose GPS, we lose banking in the United States of America. In other words, there will be no milk in the grocery store in a matter of three days if we lose GPS. That GPS timing signal is not just necessary for banking transactions, it’s also necessary to regulate the flows of electricity on the power grid, it’s necessary to regulate the flows of data on wireless networks, and terrestrial networks. So again, if we lose GPS, it’s an existential threat to the United States of America.”
Our country’s enemies have been busy developing several methods of attacking the U.S. in space, he said, including jamming, spoofing, hacking and dazzling - all forms of attack that are fairly inexpensive and could be deployed against American assets in space.
“This is what’s important to note,” Bridenstine said. “They have declared that space is America’s Achilles’ heel. We should take note of that.”
Administrator Bridenstine also spoke at length about the many projects in which NASA is engaged, including launching a probe toward the sun, building a permanent base on the moon, and of course sending humans to Mars.
The Parker Solar Probe was launched last week, and will become (by far) the fastest human-made object in history.
It will eventually reach speeds of some 430,000 miles per hour - roughly 1,700 times the speed of a bullet fired from a rifle.
Its mission is to help scientists understand solar wind, solar flares, and most importantly solar eruptions, which could potentially pose an extreme danger to our planet.
Another mission would see the U.S. return to the moon, in a big way.
NASA wants to have a permanent presence on the moon, a space station in orbit around it (called “The Gateway”) and the ability to utilize what some believe may be trillions of dollars worth of “rare earth” metals that could potentially be found on the moon’s surface.
That’s not all; Bridenstine says in 2009, NASA scientists discovered that there are “hundreds of billions of tons of water ice at the poles of the moon, on the surface at the polls of the moon.”
“It’s a resource that’s available for us to use on the surface of the moon. So it’s water to drink, it’s air to breathe, but it’s even more,” he told KRMG. “When you crack (water) into its component parts, hydrogen and oxygen, and you put it into liquid form, liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, that is the same propellant that powered the space shuttles.”
Building a sustainable, reusable system of rockets, surface vehicles, and tugs (shuttles) between the earth and the moon, and between the moon and the Gateway, would also help NASA reach its next goal - Mars.
It’s a lot to administer, but the enthusiasm and passion in Bridenstine’s voice as he talks about what NASA has done - and plans to do - is palpable.
“Without question, it’s the best job I’ve ever had, and there’s a lot more to do.”