Here are early descriptions of the four affirmatives in the 2011-2012 Core Files for the space exploration and development topic – some of the specifics will likely change, but a starting point for thinking about the topic and getting your students excited about it. Thanks to our lead researcher, Brian Peterson (some veteran coaches may remember his previous work with the CDC), for these summaries – more to come soon about the Core Files and the space topic!
Here are the summaries of the early versions of the 4 Core Files Affirmatives – please feel free to backchannel David with your thoughts and feedback and get your kids thinking about them too!
1) China Cooperation: Currently, the United States is taking a suspicious, militaristic approach to Chinese space policy and this has resulted in a lack of cooperation on key areas such as satellite development. The existence of export controls on critical space-related technologies and a refusal to engage in consultations over Chinese participation in the International Space Station are particular policies that demonstrate the hardline U.S. stance. The plan will engage China in the creation of a shared space development (probably a cooperative satellite network) in order to increase U.S./China government relations, as well as enable U.S. satellite manufacturers to sell their goods to a very rapidly growing Chinese market.
2) Deep Space Exploration: The United States’ current space policy focuses on technology development and is no longer supporting human-focused missions aimed at exploration or colonization. Without quickly developing the ability to build and sustain new human colonies away from the Earth, the human race runs the risk of being wiped out by a planetary accident (either through an inevitable asteroid collision or a human-caused event such as nuclear war). The plan will fund a human-focused colonization mission to seek out a livable non-Earth environment and colonize it in order to perpetually sustain the human race.
3) Space-based Missile Defense: Other countries and rogue groups are proliferating WMD and missile technologies faster than the U.S. military is able to deter them, and the limitations of our physical military presence make it impossible for the U.S. to control the spread of these dangerous weapons. Proliferation will make war inevitable and cause the collapse of U.S. global leadership. The plan will deploy a ballistic missile defense system in outer space that can rapidly target and destroy missiles launched from any point on earth, allowing the U.S. to both deter future conflicts and punish aggressors.
4) Lunar Mining: The energy economy is facing a crisis: fossil fuels are both unstable and unsustainable, and earth-based alternative energy sources are not developing rapidly enough to meet the need. This is causing huge economic pressures (particularly on countries with large energy markets such as the United States) that will eventually topple the global economy, unless a new marketable form of energy can be developed. The plan will have the U.S. establish and enforce property rights on the moon for the purpose of expediting the extraction of lunar natural resources so that U.S. companies can get access to valuable minerals, especially Helium-3. These minerals have the potential to alleviate the energy crisis and provide an important new point of investment for U.S. markets.