The Politics of Space Security: Strategic Restraint and the Pursuit of National Interests

The Politics of Space Security: Strategic Restraint and the Pursuit of National Interests

The Politics of Space Security: Strategic Restraint and the Pursuit of National Interests

The Politics of Space Security: Strategic Restraint and the Pursuit of National Interests

Synopsis

The past five decades have witnessed often fierce international rivalry in space, but also surprising military restraint. Now, with an increasing number of countries capable of harming U. S. space assets, experts and officials have renewed a long-standing debate over the best route to space security. Some argue that space defenses will be needed to protect critical military and civilian satellites. Others argue that space should be a "sanctuary" from deployed weapons and military conflict, particularly given the worsening threat posed by orbital space debris. Moltz puts this debate into historical context by explaining the main trends in military space developments since Sputnik, their underlying causes, and the factors that are likely to influence their future course. This new edition provides analysis of the Obama administration's space policy and the rise of new actors, including China, India, and Iran.

His conclusion offers a unique perspective on the mutual risks militaries face in space and the need for all countries to commit to interdependent, environmentally focused space security.

Excerpt

More than five decades after the opening of space in 1957, the United States finds itself in a position of unique global strength and influence. A major reason for this power is U.S. space technology. Satellites speed our personal, business, and military communications around the world, transferring tremendous amounts of data nearly instantaneously. Global positioning system (GPS) spacecraft track our products and save lives by locating ships, keeping planes from colliding, and delivering weapons with uncanny precision, reducing casualties and collateral damage. Weather and remote-sensing satellites boost agricultural production and warn of coming disasters. Military early-warning and reconnaissance satellites enforce treaties, help track foreign armies and navies, and provide advance information on missile launches. No other country enjoys the advantages that the United States currently reaps from space, and no other country has made such an investment in space technology.

Despite this power, some U.S. officials and policy analysts fear that space is an Achilles’ heel, an environment on which the United States is uniquely dependent but also in which it is highly vulnerable to possible attack. They argue that the increasing number of countries (such as Iran and North Korea) now acquiring ballistic missiles might be able to place objects into space—including crude weapons—to put our assets at risk. There are also fears that space powers with more developed capabilities, such as China, will develop weapons that could eventually hold a number of U.S. satellites “hostage” in a crisis. As a consequence, these officials and analysts argue that substantial U.S. space defenses will be needed

For example, see the “Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization,” Pursuant to Public Law 108–65, January 11, 2001, online via Defense LINK at (accessed September 24, 2006).

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