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Letters

posted: 22 January 2009
02:04 pm ET






A Better Argument For Removing ITAR

With regards to the Letter to the Editor “ITAR Harms Science” [Dec. 15, page 26], I have yet to read in Space News the understanding necessary to win over the U.S. government to remove the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

The argument to drop ITAR cannot be won by pointing to the negative technical, financial and programmatic impact it has on our economy and space program because the decision by politicians to implement ITAR is a political one. ITAR was put in place so that politicians could never be hauled up in front of the American press and the American people to explain why politicians allowed the space and satellite industry to sell high-tech components and technology that could be used in weapons against troops or citizens.

To get rid of ITAR, we need to convince American politicians that they will never be held responsible for allowing companies to sell the technology that may one day be used in terrible weapons against the in a time of war or hostile actions by a country that was considered, at one time, friendly. I can’t do that and I believe that neither can anyone else.

Unfortunately, we have many examples to refer to from history when companies and executives became rich selling weapons to both the enemy and at the government. The 1939 anti-war documentary “Dealers In Death” tells the story of the companies that became rich selling weapons in World War I. The film examines the role of munitions manufacturers in the instigation and continuation of global war from 1914 to 1919, and describes the inner workings of many factories in , , United States

An interesting topic covered in the film is the arms deal in which French and German munitions manufactures used political clout to save the cities where their plants were located from being bombed. The manufacturers then proceeded to sell weapons to the “enemy,” prolonging the war and their profits. The film makes grim predictions about the future of warfare, too many of which have come to pass in our lifetime. The film’s major message is that war was as good for corporate profits then as it can be now or in the future if companies are allowed to sell technology usable in weapons of mass destruction.

I hope that you will print this information so that people can begin to respond with the information necessary that may allow politicians to drop ITAR in the near future.

Len Losik

President, Failure Analysis

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Amusing or Appalling?

In the Dec. 1 issue, Charlie Precourt is quoted as saying the Ares 1 is years ahead of the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 because Ares 1 has passed its preliminary design review [“Obama Team Seeks Data on Possible Changes to Ares, Orion,” page 5]. Since when does a bunch of people in a meeting trump multiple successful launches?

The answer, of course, is that existing vehicles aren’t “human-rated.” This is a designation bestowed by NASA. It was given to the shuttle based on an estimated 100,000 flight failure rate, presumably supported at the preliminary design review. The shuttle’s actual failure rate is well over 1 percent.

Al Globus

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