Space Wars: Circa 1959 to 2010

I noted with interest President Obama's April 16 visit to Cape Kennedy to rally the "workers".  Certain reports have it that there were few in any "workers" invited to hear the speech.  There did seem to be a lot of applause from people who were about to lose their jobs.  Then on April 22 I noted the launch of an Atlas/X-37 "space plane" combination on a "secret" mission.

Had I seen this before?  The Atlas/X-37 stirred my memory. In June of 1959 the Eisenhower administration awarded a contract to Boeing for a project called Dyna-Soar.  This also was an Atlas/Space Plane combination very closely resembling the current configuration.  The intended offensive purpose of the 1959 system sounds remarkably similar to the theories put forth for the X37.  Also remarkable is the involvement of the same contractor & booster.

But is there a more over-riding theme in both of these events?

In 1959 the Eisenhower administration was furiously defending against the charge of there being a "missile gap" leveled by the opposition leading in to the election of 1960.  The USSR had launched Sputnik in 1957 while the US effort at an earth satellite had fizzled.  Were the Soviets ahead in missile development?  A nervous public was easily swayed by the charge that the country was under a direct unmatched threat by the Soviets.  The fear was palpable.  Backyard bomb shelters were for sale on street corners.  Was the real purpose of the Dyna-Soar project to help alleviate these doubts & fears?  Eisenhower spoke directly to the American public assuring them that the nation was adequately prepared, and that we had solved the critical problem of atmospheric re-entry. 

The charge has been leveled that the Obama administration is gutting the nation's defenses (antimissile systems), and unilaterally granting our enemies an advantage in offensive systems by curtailing our own. The launch of the X-37 has more than a hint of there being an offensive mission roll.  Nothing is being acknowledged or denied.

Is this Obama's attempt at countering a political opposition charge of negligence of national defense, and with a system nearly identical in function some 50 years later? 

Is this a smoke-screen of "doing something offensive"? 

Do the Chinese or the Russians have a real advantage in space based offensive weapons?  China has already demonstrated the intercept of a satellite.  What about Iran's ambitions?

J.F. Kennedy found it very useful to level the charge and sway public opinion.  After assuming office in 1961 he had defense Sec. Robert McNamara produce a "white paper" proclaiming that the triad of aircraft, missiles, and sea power was more than adequate to deter any enemy.  Bomb shelters gave way to wine cellars, and the nation was at ease once again.

Is the X-37 designed to produce the same ease?

Bryan Demko

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