Publication:Colo Spgs Gazette; Date:Apr 5, 2005; Section:Metro; Page Number:12

Don’t use space for war, protesters say


    The 21st National Space Symposium isn’t a gathering of scientists, corporate giants and military officers. It’s a convention of designers of weapons of mass destruction.

    That’s the view of a band of protesters who picketed Monday at the Broadmoor International Center on the opening day of the symposium.

    Spearheaded by the Citizens for Peace in Space, a Colorado Springsbased group, the peaceful protest involved about 20 people and attempted to raise the issue of waging war in space.

    “This is nothing more than the military-industrial complex looking for a new market for warfare,” said Bruce Gagnon of Portland, Maine, who heads the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

    “They realize if they can move warfare into the heavens they stand to make the most incredible profits in the history of the planet,” he said.

    The group, formed in 1992, waved posters that said, “Space Domination, Group Think = War” and other slogans opposing space exploration with the goal of military dominance.

    Gagnon said opposition to space warfare is growing and that 175 groups affiliated with the Global Network are working to stop weapons in space.

    He noted the Pentagon is over budget on an array of space-based projects.

    To pay for such extravagances, Gagnon said, the government wants to cut social programs, including health care for the poor and elderly, education and libraries.

    He blamed the “corporate dominated” media for not informing Americans of the military push into space and its consequences.

    Kelly Dougherty of Colorado Springs said she saw firsthand as a National Guard soldier serving in Iraq the devastation space-aided weapons can inflict.

    Dougherty, who belongs to the 200-member Iraq Veterans Against the War, said untold numbers of Iraqi men, women and children have been killed by “smart bombs” and other weapons.

    Symposiumgoers largely ignored the protesters, with some shaking their heads in disapproval.

    Asked to comment on the protesters’ claims, Steve Eisenhart, spokesman for the symposium’s sponsor, the Colorado Springsbased Space Foundation, said, “They are certainly welcome to acknowledge their concerns and so forth. We think this conference focuses on the positive aspects of space, the ways it benefits society, national security, medical benefits.”

    The symposium continues through Thursday.

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JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE - NASA employee Winnie Humberson, left, gets her photo taken in a space suit by fellow employee Shannon Raleigh after they finished setting up their exhibit Monday afternoon at the 21st National Space Symposium at The Broadmoor hotel. About 20 rallied against the symposium Monday.