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Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World War III, a War Game Scenario

Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World War III, a War Game Scenario

3.6 5
by Michael J. Coumatos, William B. Scott, William J. Birnes

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William B. Scott is a retired Rocky Mountain bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine and a former U.S. Air Force flight-test engineer. He served with the National Security Agency and as aircrew on nuclear sampling missions. Michael J. Coumatos is a former U.S. Navy test pilot, the former U.S. Space Command director of wargaming, and a


William B. Scott is a retired Rocky Mountain bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine and a former U.S. Air Force flight-test engineer. He served with the National Security Agency and as aircrew on nuclear sampling missions. Michael J. Coumatos is a former U.S. Navy test pilot, the former U.S. Space Command director of wargaming, and a former National Security Agency counterterrorism adviser. With the help of bestselling author William J. Birnes, these renowned experts have joined forces to grippingly depict how the first hours of World War III might play out in the year 2010.

Coumatos and Scott take the reader inside U.S. Strategic Command, where top military commanders, space-company executives, and U.S. intelligence experts are conducting a DEADSATS II wargame, exploring how the loss of critical satellites could lead to nuclear war. The gamers don't know that the war they are playing has already begun, miles above them, in the lifeless, silent cold of space. Jam-packed with the actual systems and secret technologies the United States has or will soon field to protect its assets, Space Wars describes a near-future nuclear nightmare that terrorists will relish but politicians prefer to ignore. In a quieter, more peaceful time, Space Wars would be an exciting work of fiction. But with the United States now at war, Space Wars is all too real.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A wake-up call for Western society. Space Wars should be mandatory reading for politicians, policy makers, businessmen, lawyers, and students.” —Maj. Gen. Wilbert D. Pearson, U.S. Air Force (ret.), vice president of Lockheed Martin

Space Wars is a book that can be read as a thriller, as a call to arms or a fictionalized exploration of the world of wargaming and space security. In any sense, though, it's an original.” —Defense Technology International

“Unless we are willing to accept the fact that there are some out there who are fanatically bent on destroying us, Space Wars could be profoundly prophetic.” —Capt. Eugene Cernan, U.S. Navy (ret.), pilot for Gemini 9, Apollo 10, and commander of Apollo 17

“The hair on your neck will rise as you absorb the latent danger facing the United States as revealed in Space Wars. The utterly believable, totally logical premise is terrifying, and the book should be made required reading by Congress. As Space Wars makes clear, we are on the edge of a low-tech catastrophe that will wipe out our high-tech advantages.” —Col. Walter J. Boyne, U.S. Air Force (ret.), New York Times bestselling author of Supersonic Thunder

Space Wars is a realistic, often startling behind-the-scenes account of military space strategies and the mounting geopolitical threats in our world today. It will leave you gazing toward space with a new understanding of the great battlefield just beyond our hemisphere and the critical role it plays in the future of mankind.” —Lt. Governor Jane Norton, State of Colorado, delegate to the Aerospace States Association

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One






The first shots were silent.


No incendiary blast of explosives. No bombs exploding over a battlefield. No dramatic flash of a nuclear fireball to signal the onset of high-tech combat. Only a silent, single burst of electrons.


High above the Earth, drifting noiselessly in the black deep freeze of orbital space, a multimillion-dollar satellite simply died, a casualty of tiny but critical electronic circuits that failed when bombarded by a surge of electrons, exceeding the microprocessors’ design tolerances. There was a brief protest of overload, a signal, then silence.


The spacecraft’s final, automatic “Mayday” call—a short-burst scream that something was amiss in orbit—consisted of an innocuous stream of digital ones and zeros. Beamed to a ground station hundreds of miles below, that critical few-millisecond transmission of encrypted, coded blips would mean nothing to a casual observer. But it was the only clue that trained spacecraft engineer-detectives would receive. In its last electronic gasp, the satellite had done its part. Now its human creators would decipher the mystery, assigning meaning to brief, terminal spikes in receiver temperature measurements and power supply output voltages and currents. Nothing new there. Engineers and technicians had done that before, hunched over computer terminals in windowless rooms scattered across the U.S. mainland.


But this time, it would be several days before those on the ground could decode the subtle, sinister messages of those last digi-words from EarthView-4 and relay their chilling conclusions: the first shots of World War III had been fired.




United States Air Force General Howard Aster frowned, yet nodded. “Continue your briefing, colonel. We’ll get into the ‘hows’ and ‘maybes’ later.” Interruptions from the civilians scattered around the room irritated him, and he was anxious to get back on track. He had been dreading this precise moment for months, the time when his recurring space nightmare would become hard reality.


As commander of U.S. Strategic Command, or STRATCOM, Aster occupied a high-backed leather swivel chair at the head of a long, carrier-deck–like table lined by his uniformed military staff, several gray-haired vice presidents from three commercial satellite companies, a squat and very round National Security Council representative, and J. D. Hart, a NASA technical troubleshooter. Behind them, lining the walls of a large STRATCOM headquarters conference room, sat and stood a multitude of lower ranking officers and civilians. An odd mix of people and skills, Aster thought as he scanned the crowd.


One of only a handful of four-star generals designated America’s “Combatant Commanders,” the Air Force officer wielded considerable power within the U.S. military’s chain of command. Today, though, he was simply an aging former fighter pilot trying to understand jargon tossed about by an ad hoc group of staff officers, consultants, and corporate executives assembled to assess what was quickly turning into a technological nightmare. At least that’s what Aster hoped it was. Because if what was happening hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface was not just a collection of random events, but something engineered by intelligent design, Aster knew he’d soon find himself in a world of shit.


At the opposite end of the table, Army Colonel Jim Androsin, a tall, thin, ramrod-straight officer, stood beside a big-screen, high-definition display that dominated an entire wall. He leaned over the long table, tapped the keys of a notebook computer, and the huge screen displayed a computer graphic of multiple satellites drifting above a crescent of blue-marble Earth.


“To recap the situation, sir,” Androsin continued, “three Trans-America Satellite Company—TransAmSat, if you will—spacecraft have experienced technical problems over the past month, and a fourth had a similar anomaly early this year. TAS-5, a comsat, is the latest casualty. It appears to have a faulty battery that will force the company to shut off several transponders about one hour every day for a month during the spring and again in the fall.”


“Why’s that?” Aster interjected.


“Those are the solar transitions, general,” responded Jack Molinero, a conspicuously well-fed TransAmSat vice president in a poorly fitting pin-striped suit and food-stained tie. His taut white shirt flowed over his belt as he slumped in a chair trying to compose his thoughts. The tired-looking company vice-president ran TAS operations. And, today, Jack was obviously not a happy man.


“In essence,” he said, “there won’t be enough sunlight hitting the solar arrays each day to keep our remaining good battery charged up through the night portion of each orbit. So, we off-load the power system by selectively shutting down some of the least-critical transponders. We intentionally ‘brown-out’ the satellite.”


Aster barely nodded his thanks and motioned with an eyebrow for Androsin to continue. Although he had been on the job as STRATCOM chief for a little over a year, the general was still getting up to speed on the finer points of this space business. As a fighter pilot, he had spent his entire career below 50,000 feet. Space, so-called Information Operations, and missile defense were new games for him—and for a lot of other people in this room, too, he realized, glancing at the faces turned toward the colonel. Back in the early 2000s, STRATCOM had been reconstituted, absorbing the old U.S. Space Command, and was subsequently assigned a host of additional responsibilities. On top of its traditional nuclear-deterrence role, the command’s bulging portfolio had been a handful for his predecessors, a fact he appreciated more each day.


Although rumors claimed that Aster had been in the running for the Air Force’s vice chief of staff slot, the service’s top general had asked him to take over as the nation’s number-one, four-star “space warrior.” Obviously, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had already given his approval, or the USAF chief would never have offered him the job. Aster had jumped at the joint-command opportunity, preferring to remain close to front-line operations and as far from Washington, D.C., as possible. Two previous tours in the Pentagon had bred a strong dislike for things political, and it showed, despite attempts to conceal it. Because he knew it showed, he finally stopped trying to play the game. He was a warrior, not a politician.


Evidently, he hadn’t irritated too many on Capitol Hill, though. After several meetings with the Joint Chiefs chairman, the secretary of defense, a slew of congressional staffers, and even the president himself, Aster’s confirmation had breezed through the Senate without a hitch. The Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman’s only proviso had been that Aster remain in the critical STRATCOM job a full four years. That was the same as pointedly telling him: “You’ll retire in the job. This is the end of your military career.” That was acceptable, though, because he was now on the cut

Meet the Author

Michael J. Coumatos is the former U.S. Space Command Director in charge of wargames and a former National Security Agency counterterrorism adviser.

William B. Scott is the editor-in-chief of Aviation Week & Space Technology and a nine-year U.S. Air Force veteran who served as aircrew on nuclear sampling missions.

William J. Birnes is the New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Day After Roswell and Worker in the Light.

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Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World War III, a War Game Scenario 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would never purchase this book as it is associated with a thief. Bill Birnes is a THIEF. He and his wife Nancy have stolen large sums of money by offering a subscription to ufo scamazine or I mean magazine and never delivered a single issue or refunded 1 dime. I will not be taken again nor will I send a nickel to anyone associated with a common crook.He and his wife are the scum of the planet. They do not even have the decency to reply to these accusations. I wonder why? They are just getting fat off of STEALING other peoples money .
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