Space Strategy - Episode 38: Daniel Suarez: What Can U.S. Spacepower and USSF Learn from Hard Science Fiction?

Related Categories: Military Innovation; Science and Technology; SPACE; NASA; China
Related Expert: Peter Garretson

In this episode Peter Garretson talks with science fiction author Daniel Suarez about his latest novel Critical Mass, which depicts humanity’s transition from a climate-imperiled, Earthbound civilization to one that utilizes the resources and energy from deep space to secure a promising, sustainable future. They discuss what it means to be a spacefaring civilization, what is the value proposition for developing Cislunar, the new Space Race, what will be the determinants of spacepower both soft & hard, and what ought to be our national priorities. Daniel is clear that, “They [China] have basically declared that they want to have a space race with us. I say we take them up on it” and that “We need to get busy, and we really need to be focused on outcomes,” that “We Need an Apollo Level of Urgency,” and “And if that space race can inspire us to get busy and get moving well, then good. Then it and it's going to have a good catalyzing effect.” They analyze what the Space Force should assume about Cislunar, space resources, humans in space, and requirements for guardians in space. They delve into what the new capabilities mean for competitive endurance and a theory of success, and the opportunities afforded by space mobility and logistics. They explore the concept of space infrastructure, and the criticality of on-orbit mass for spacepower advantage. They assess how the scenario in his latest book ought to give the USSF pause, “And if this scenario gives them [USSF] nightmares…then, hopefully, that will urge some action.”  They touch on cryptocurrency in space, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), and the space commodities exchange. They cover Asteroid Mining, Solar Power Satellites to Mass Drivers, to Lunar Cyclers, Spin-Gravity Space Stations—and enabling U.S. policy. They discuss the utility of Science Fiction as ‘cost-effective prototyping the future’, the utility of narrative, and the constraint that ‘you can’t build something until you can imagine it.’ They close by examining the future roles and missions for the Space Force in a developing Cislunar economy in the context of the technology in his novels DeltaV and Critical Mass.