The Militarization and Weaponization of Space

Article excerpt

The Militarization and Weaponization of Space by Matthew Mowthorpe. Lexington Books (, 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706, 2003, 262 pages, $70.00 (hardcover).

Matthew Mowthorpe's The Militarization and Weaponization of Space, based on his PhD dissertation at the University of Hull's Center for security Studies, examines the policies of the United States, Russia, and China towards the military use of space from the Cold War to the present. Covering areas such as the three nations' space law, policy, and doctrine, along with technical data on weapons systems actually fielded or tested, the book offers a well-researched and expansive look at the history of space militarization and Weaponization.

Chapters 1 and 2 examine US military-space policy during the Cold War, covering the rather familiar territory of the sanctuary, survivability, control, and high-ground space doctrines. Mowthorpe describes the evolution of US space thought, beginning with President Elsenhower's insistence on maintaining space as a weapons-free commons and continuing with early Weaponization attempts via nuclear antisatellite (ASAT) and antiballistic missile (ABM) programs, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and former president George H. W. Bush's Global Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS) missile shield. The author then turns to attempts by the United States and Soviet Union to build a viable ballistic missile defense (BMD) during the Cold War, explaining how this effort became the first serious attempt to weaponize space and defining this process as "either weapons based in space or weapons based on the ground with their intended target being located in space" (p. 3).

Chapter 3 assesses the Soviet approach to military space during the Cold War, describing military systems such as the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) for nuclear delivery as well as political dealings with the United States and the future of the Russian space industry after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Chapter 4 addresses the People's Republic of China and its quest to build space capabilities, including the drive to develop a robust military-satellite capability, and that country's ownership of the newest manned space program. Analyzing the US and Soviet ASAT programs in depth, chapter 5 considers the policies regarding such weaponry in both countries and outlines the programmatic and operational history of both nations' efforts in this area. …