Ted Cruz wants America to fear the fictional threat of space pirates.
During a Tuesday hearing of the Senate's subcommittee on Aviation and Space discussing space policy, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) cited the threat of space pirates as a reason to back Trump's unpopular "space force" idea. Cruz is the chair of the committee.
Discussing threats to commercial and governmental space assets, Cruz then veered off course into the realm of the fantastic.
"Since the ancient Greeks first put to sea, nations have recognized the necessity of naval forces and maintaining a superior capability to protect waterborne travel and commerce from bad actors," Cruz said. "Pirates threaten the open seas and the same is possible in space."
The threat of space piracy, Cruz said, now means America must recognize "the necessity of a space force."
Outside of the world of fiction, there is no such thing as space pirates. In the entire history of human spaceflight, there has never been a space pirate attack.
While nations who are diplomatically hostile to each other have explored space (most notably the United States and the former U.S.S.R), there has never been a space war, space battle, or even a space skirmish.
But even if space piracy was real, and it isn't, the likely remedy to their actions would not be Cruz and Trump's "space force."
A 2015 DefenseOne article discussed the speculative topic and the outlet asked a Pentagon official how a space-based assault would be responded to.
"The United States would work with other nations to identify the bad actor and collectively bring the weight of world opinion and collective action on them to eliminate the threat," the official explained.
That isn't "space force," or anything resembling Cruz's fever dream of a "space force" responding to fictional space pirates.
Trump has pushed for the "space force" idea largely based on the reaction it gets applause at his campaign rallies, where he sells "space force" t-shirts and hats. Meanwhile, serious policy officials within the Air Force and Department of Defense have derided the concept.
Indulging Trump's fantasy could cost taxpayers billions, all without accomplishing any serious policy goals.
Defense officials have said there will be a need for a unified space command to coordinate space-based military activities, but not to fight space piracy.
Because space pirates are not real.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.