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Rick Steelhammer: New space race could lift off soon as France creates armed space force

If imitation truly is the highest form of flattery, then President Donald Trump should feel good about France’s recent decision to form a Space Force similar in concept to the one he previously commissioned.

In mid-July, President Emmanuel Macron announced a plan to create a French Space Force that would eventually operate in tandem with the French Air Force to guard against other nations tampering with its satellite system, as the Russians reportedly did two years ago.

By the end of the month, Macron’s defense minister, Florence Parly, was suggesting that French satellites be equipped with laser canons or submachine guns capable of taking out the solar panels powering the raiding satellites.

Brass from the 20th century weapon would add to a growing space junk problem in the 21st, but would probably be collectors items for those taking part in volunteer litter cleanups a few centuries later.

I worry a bit that France’s plan to weaponize their satellites could lead to a zero gravity arms race with the U.S. Space Force. President Trump may want to arm our satellites with even deadlier, more expensive gear, like solar panel-slicing gamma ray guillotines.

Should France use its weaponized satellites to patrol space, Trump could be concerned over them making contact with a population of aliens they colonize and treat poorly, sparking a rebellion before calling the U.S. for rescue assistance.

In the meantime, France is considering opening up a national space academy for promising young space cadets. I picture a French Space Academy in which cadets would dress fashionably in clingy metallic fabrics and drink freeze-dried pinot noir grape juice instead of Tang.

Smoking, of course, would be mandatory.

Were U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd still with us, I feel confident he would support building a U.S. Space Academy, so long it was named after him and located in West Virginia.

Star City, near Morgantown, and Rocket Center, in Mineral County, are two possible locations that come to mind, but I think the best site is a small community tucked into a corner of the late senior senator’s home county of Raleigh.

It only makes sense to build the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Space Academy at Pluto.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

Funerals for Friday, September 20, 2019

Barton, Richard - 3 p.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Birthisel, Avis - 11 a.m., Casdorph & Curry Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Call, Denver - Noon, Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Dearien, Tommie - Noon, Stevens & Grass Funeral Home, Malden.

Fletcher, Joanna - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Keeney, Steven - 2 p.m., Keith Full Gospel Church, Keith.

May, Rosa - 2 p.m., Bartlett - Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Morris, Linda - 1 p.m., Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Parsons, Harry - 11 a.m., Ellyson Mortuary Inc., Glenville.

Pauley, Clarence - 10 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Pino, Patricia - 11 a.m., Bradley FreeWill Baptist Church.

Rogers, Marilyn - 11 a.m., Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, South Charleston.

Satterfield, Kenneth - 5 p.m., Satterfield residence, 1161 Daniels Run Road, Millstone.