In the mass consciousness, thanks in large part to the media, over the years the idea has been established that this statement was deliberate misinformation in order to draw the USSR into a new round of the exhausting arms race and undermine its economic potential. This is so and not so.
On the one hand, the NSDD plan, developed under the leadership of the then CIA head William Casey, did indeed exist. It was approved by President Reagan in 1981 and envisaged the collapse of the USSR by non-military means. It should be noted that Casey’s proposals, despite the superpower confrontation that lasted for more than a quarter of a century, looked innovative, because after reaching military parity in 70's, most of the heavyweights in the American political elite, like former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, believed that to negotiate, and the arms race is the road to nowhere.
But along with Reagan, figures of a different scale, like Casey, who sincerely wanted to crush the “evil empire”, came to the White House. And the point here is not so much in ideological confrontation, as in the antagonism of two world centers: "Continent - Ocean". At one time, eminent thinkers wrote about this in Russia - say, Vadim Tsymbursky, and earlier in Germany - Karl Haushofer and Karl Schmitt. However, in the UK and the United States also did not avoid such an important problem: let us recall the works of American admiral Alfred Mahen and the English politician John McKinder.
The arms race in space cannot be considered solely as a consequence of the strategic decisions of the rulers on both sides of the ocean. It is necessary to see in it, perhaps, one of the most important components of the inevitable opposition of thalassocracy - the state symbolizing sea power, and the tellurocracy, personifying the land empire in the widest sense of the word. Such a coalition of Germany and Russia with the annexation of Japan, which was a maritime power, but in the Asia-Pacific region would inevitably enter into a tough conflict with the United States, Britain and France, was to become such at the end of the century before last.
The union of these strongest monarchies at the beginning of the 20th century would undoubtedly lead to the start of space exploration much earlier than the middle of 50, save the world from two terrible world wars and as a result of US domination on the planet, which brought so much grief and misfortune to many nations. Vietnamese, Serbian and Arabic first.
Superpower on start
So, like Kissinger, the Reagan team was also aware of the impossibility of crushing the Soviet Union by military means and at the same time avoiding a retaliatory strike. Therefore, we relied, we repeat, on the collapse of the USSR from within. In the NSDD plan, there was a section "Psychological and Information Warfare", its integral part was the stuffing into the overseas enemy of information about the beginning of active work in the United States under the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program, which many call a bluff decades later. And there were grounds for this. In the book by Lieutenant General Viktor Starodubov "Superpowers of the XX century" there are the following lines: historical Sciences A.A.Kokoshin, it was concluded that the system advertised by Washington is clearly incapable, as its supporters claim, to make nuclear weapons powerless and obsolete, to provide reliable cover for the territory of the United States, and even more so for its allies in Western Europe or in other areas of the world. And Korolev's colleague, academician Boris Viktorovich Rauschenbakh, called SDI nonsense.
But it is on the one hand. On the other hand, many politicians and journalists on both sides of the ocean were still interested in 80-s about how real the threat of “star wars” was. Have we not been mistaken in underestimating the PIO? Could a fairy tale come true? In the book “War and Peace in American: Traditions of Militarism in the USA”, historian Nikolai Yakovlev quoted the words of an American physicist, father of the hydrogen bomb Edward Teller, who commented on Reagan’s speech mentioned above on the pages of the Washington Post: “Technical aspects of star wars are not only were ignored, but I would say shamefully ignored. What the President of March 23 reported should have been pronounced at least 10 years ago. ”
That is, unlike Soviet scientists, the American physicist believed that the PIO program was quite feasible. However, not everyone in the United States shared the optimism of Teller. In particular, his former subordinate R. Woodruff bluntly stated that there would not be any laser weapons in the near future, all this is pure bluff. Woodroffe was also listened to by congressmen, one of whom, Senator Edward Kennedy, called the PIO reckless plans. In the end, a scandal broke out and Teller was forced to admit: “I never claimed that these weapons would be manufactured. I said it could be made. ”
However - the irony of history - the confrontation in low Earth orbit began long before Reagan's speech, when he himself was still working on the acting field and did not think about the presidential chair, at least seriously. One can even with a certain degree of caution - for work in the space field both in the USSR, and in Germany, and in the USA began before the Second World War - say: the start of the space race was given in 1945. That year, almost immediately after the end of the war, the United States exported German physicists working in the secret laboratories of Peenemuende, led by the Nazi Werner von Braun.
In parallel, Soviet specialists, having captured documentation, also prepared for a breakthrough into space: a scientific research institute of the same name, headed by Major-General Lev Mikhailovich Gaidukov, was created on the territory of Thuringia, in Nordhausen in 1946. The scientific component in this institution was led by Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. Materials and personnel that were not inherited by the Americans were transferred from Peenemünde to Nordhausen. Moreover, Academician Boris Evseevich Chertok (at that time major) recalled in his memoirs that the local burgomaster had asked the Germans working in the field of rocket technology to meet with Soviet specialists. And by the next morning, "it turned out that after the call of the local authorities, we had a whole line of people willing to offer services."
Well, the geopolitical theories of the above-mentioned thinkers were not abstract constructions, but reflected the essence of the mental attitudes of two great continental peoples, and for the Germans at that time the Russians were enemies, but theirs, while the Americans remained alien from another planet.
At the start of the space race, we were ahead of the United States - they underestimated the power of the organizational potential of their recent ally, and speaking directly, the White House did not have its own Lawrence Beria, who oversaw the creation of a nuclear missile shield in the USSR. The launch of an artificial satellite of the Earth, launched into orbit of the world's first intercontinental multi-stage ballistic P-7, had an almost knockout effect on Washington, because a rocket could be standing not a satellite, but a nuclear warhead.
It must be admitted that the Americans themselves missed the opportunity to become the first in space. Initially distrusting von Braun, the country's leadership commissioned the creation of a launch vehicle to launch an artificial satellite to the Naval the fleet. But, as you know, the Avangard project born in its bowels failed.
Part of the reaction of the American public to the launch of the Soviet satellite was the letter of the editor of the space research journal published in the USA with the words: “We have to work feverishly to solve the technical problems that Russia undoubtedly decided ... In this race - and this is the race “The prize will be given only to the winner, the prize will be the leadership of the world.”
But despite the failure to launch the Vanguard rocket, the United States was not going to refuse to gain dominance - military primarily in low Earth orbit, finally commissioning the creation of the von Braun rocket. Boris Chertok quotes the words of the strategic commander in the book aviation The USA of Thomas Power, uttered by him in 1958: “Whoever first approves his place in outer space will be his master. And we just can’t afford to lose ... "
In fairness it should be noted that not everyone in the American leadership supported such militaristic views. In particular, President Dwight Eisenhower, who knew first-hand what war is, quite consistently advocated the peaceful exploration of space. However, the above Power's words have become the motto of the United States in the struggle for supremacy in near-earth orbit. Academician Chertok stressed: "The initial proposals for the creation of heavy missiles in the United States did not find support for the implementation of a peaceful lunar program."
At about the same time, the development of missile defense systems began on both sides of the ocean. In the Soviet Union, this happened as follows: “Already at the beginning of the 50-s, the USSR Defense Ministry’s research institute-4 and the research institute-885, which were engaged in the development and use of ballistic missiles, launched the first missile defense capabilities. Our specialists have proposed two schemes for equipping anti-missile systems with guidance systems. For antimissiles with a telecontrol, a fragmentation warhead with low-speed fragments and a circular field of destruction was proposed. For homing missiles it was proposed to use a directional warhead that, together with the rocket, was supposed to turn toward the target and create the highest density of the fragment field in the direction of the target during the explosion ”(Stanislav Slavin -“ Space battle of empires ”).
However, in the Soviet military elite, the attitude toward missile defense was initially very skeptical, as recalled by one of its founders, Lieutenant-General Grigory V. Kisunko, in his Confession of a General Designer: “Essentially, ABM problems in 1953 were venerable academics when discussing the letter of the seven Marshals of the Soviet Union about the need to begin to develop this problem: "Missile defense is the same stupidity as shooting a projectile projectile."
Nevertheless, the build-up of nuclear capabilities on both sides of the ocean made both the Kremlin and the White House begin active work on building their own missile defense systems. At the beginning of the 60-ies, the Americans began to deploy a group of lightweight ICBMs "Minuteman." In response, Academician Vladimir Nikolaevich Chelomey in the OKB-52 began to create the Taran anti-missile system (MIC No. 29, 2009). The SKB-30 team, under the leadership of Kisunko, developed system A, which was successfully tested in March on 1961: the P-12 and P-5 ballistic missiles were intercepted. At the same time, the United States acquired its missile defense system: the Nike-Zeus complex, which was a three-stage solid-fuel rocket with a thermonuclear warhead.
In addition, the center of attention of both the military and scientists on both sides of the ocean was the Moon, on which the Americans had already planned to create a military base, Horizon, on 1960, with the deployment of systems capable of bombarding the Earth. Referring to the lunar programs of the Soviet Union and the United States, it is important to emphasize: this is not about the feasibility of these plans, but about the very strategy of the superpowers in space exploration, which was of a pronounced military nature.
In 1963, the USSR, the USA and the UK signed a treaty banning nuclear testing in space, atmosphere and under water. Why did it happen? After all, for Washington, the proliferation of nuclear weapons in space is an additional appropriation for the military-industrial complex and the possibility of achieving military superiority over the USSR. The explanation is contained in Kissinger's Diplomacy: “If European forces decide to strike the Soviet Union, they can thus involve America in a nuclear war. For it is extremely possible for the Soviets to strike retaliation against America so that it does not benefit from the damage done to them. However, an even more likely scenario would be when the response of the Soviet Union to the strike of the American allies would be so powerful that it would be asked if America could sit idly by emptying the territory of its closest allies, regardless of what it was provoked. And because American leaders were determined to avoid US involvement in a nuclear war against their will. The decision to take the risk of destroying one’s own society was already odious enough to worry about whether it would not be imposed by the allies. ” Recall that in the 60s, the United States had strained relations with French President de Gaulle, who turned the Fifth Republic into a nuclear country and, unlike England, was outside the control of the White House. And behind the superpowers there were two crises, which almost pushed the world into the abyss of a nuclear catastrophe: Berlin and Caribbean.
As for Khrushchev, as you know, he was going to build communism, and this was more than problematic in a country devastated by atomic war, and the break in relations with Maoist China, which gave rise to a number of border problems, also did not contribute to deepening confrontation with the United States. Nevertheless, the arms race in space is not curtailed. Recall only some of her episodes. In 1967, the USSR is launching a Kosmos-139 satellite capable of destroying enemy spacecraft. In the same year, two more significant events take place: the landing vehicle of the Soviet reconnaissance satellite Kosmos-138 landed, the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Placement of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Space was landed. Less than ten years later, as the USSR launched the Salyut-5 station, which had a military purpose.
Both in the Kremlin and in the White House, they tried to combine the buildup of combat power in near-earth orbit with treaties, this very combat power as restrictive as possible. And even for some time carried out joint projects in space like the "Union" - "Apollo". In 1976, in the USSR, tactical and technical tasks were formulated for the development of the Buran reusable space system, designed to carry out comprehensive measures to counteract a possible enemy to expand the use of outer space for military purposes, and at first it was planned to create five ships with a frequency of thirty flights year.
Americans thought about the creation of combat space shuttles ten years earlier. There were various myths, not outdated, at the level of mass consciousness, to this day - like stories about the ability of the shuttle to act as a nuclear bomber. But something else is important: the programs of manned space flights on reusable shuttles being developed by superpowers were an undoubted element of the arms race in space - the notorious SOI. As for the USSR, in the 80-ies, in the framework of a missile defense system, we developed the Skif and Kaskad orbiters.
We emphasize once again: the concept of SDI, formulated at the beginning of 80, was no more than a continuation of the long-standing confrontation of superpowers in Earth orbit. Another thing is that a specific project, declared by the Americans, could not be implemented for technical reasons. And therefore, ten years after Reagan’s speech, US Secretary of Defense Les Espin announced that he was ceasing work on it.
But Casey’s plan worked, because in the middle of 80's, the Americans, following the terminology of military theorist of the past century, Liddell Garth, brilliantly carried out an indirect action strategy, defeating an equal force of the enemy’s cold war without actually firing a single shot. We see the consequences today: an almost successful attempt by the United States to consolidate in the Central Asian region of the former post-Soviet space and put Ukraine under control, destroying the friendly Russia of Iraq and Libya, an operation against Syria that almost succeeded.
Fortunately, Casey’s second was not surrounded by Obama, and Putin wasn’t Gorbachev or Yeltsin. And today, the battle with the Islamic State, which was banned in the Russian Federation and was born on the ruins of Iraq destroyed by the Americans, is essentially a new round of confrontation with the United States. Will it go into space - time will tell. Today, Americans are more interested in cooperation with Russia in near-earth orbit than in confrontation with it, and China’s space ambitions, which, of course, are of a military nature, make Washington seek to unite with Moscow rather than oppose with it. Joint operation of the ISS is a vivid example.