ARMING THE HEAVENS: The Hidden Military Agenda for Space, 1945-1955 by Jack Manno

ARMING THE HEAVENS: The Hidden Military Agenda for Space, 1945-1955

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Well, not so hidden. With less hype than Thomas Karas' The New High Ground (1983), Manno reviews essentially the same material. He achieves his own alarmist effect by beginning with German WW II rocket research; then, making due reference to Werner von Braun, he feels justified in exclaiming that ""the space program of today has its roots deep in the strategy of world domination through global terror pursued by the Nazis in World War II."" Judgment is not Manno's strong suit. ICBMs go up and come down--but unlike spy satellites and such, they are not ""space weapons."" By including anything carried on a rocket, Manno has the tie-in for his ""hidden agenda."" He traces the development of weapons research at places like the RAND Corporation, and shows the close connection (missed by few) between the military and NASA. The space shuttle and orbiting space station being developed by NASA are linked to projects originally pushed by General Bernard Schriever, head of the Air Force Systems Command. The Nixon cuts in long-distance manned spaceflights and shift to near-space exploration are linked to the Air Force's desire for these systems--and also represent, to Manno, a deplorable move away from JFK's vision of cooperative space travel. (Manno tends to counteract the military's dystopian vision of space as a weapons cache with a utopian one of space as the arena for global cooperation: one view projects national competition upward, the other universal harmony downward.) The military's desire to use manned space stations for the command and control of weapons is the real agenda, in turn, behind all the talk of a satellite missile defense system floated by President Reagan (and generally shot down as unfeasible by scientists). Manno finds all this shocking; presuming similar Soviet activity, how do the dangers differ from those of SS-20s or cruise missiles or other systems not easily susceptible to control? But apart from the doomsday worldview and the counter-scenario of space peace, Manno's account does have its informational merits.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Dodd, Mead