Military Space Power: A Guide to the Issues

Military Space Power: A Guide to the Issues

Military Space Power: A Guide to the Issues

Military Space Power: A Guide to the Issues

Synopsis

This handbook examines the militarization of space, providing a fair and balanced discussion of the emerging issues concerning space security and defense.

Excerpt

Outer space, or the heavens has long captured the imagination of humankind. Understood for millennia in religious or theological terms, around the beginning of the 20th century, writers of science fiction, a relatively new genre of literature, began to speculate on the future exploration and exploitation of outer space. Within this new genre as it evolved over the century, writers transposed their ideas of relations among societies, including war, into the outer-space domain. As science fiction moved into the new media of film and then television, these ideas about the future, including military clashes in outer space, were popularized among a wider audience, especially in North America. Today, much of the public understands space through the lens of popular television series such as Star Trek and films such as Star Wars. Indeed, in an interesting twist, Ronald Reagan’s famous Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) became known as Star Wars in an attempt to discredit it as pure science fiction.

Speculation slowly began to turn into reality with the development of rocket technology—the prerequisite for exploring and exploiting outer space—and two broad schools of thought emerged. The first saw space largely in scientific and explorational terms, perhaps most clearly encapsulated with the creation of the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) during the Eisenhower administration and John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier. The hope of this school of thought was that space exploration would be driven by scientific curiosity for the benefit of all humankind. The conflicts among societies and states would be put aside in favor of global cooperation for the common good. Outer space would remain a pristine environment or domain, unpolluted by weapons and war.

The other school of thought saw the future of outer-space exploration and exploitation in terms of the natural rivalry between societies and states common to history. Space could not be divorced from the political reality of the world. While regrettable for many, the idea of outer space as the ultimate high ground promised a distinct advantage to states able to exploit it for terrestrial purposes, as reiterated in the most recent U.S. National Space Policy: “those who effectively utilize space will enjoy added prosperity and security and will hold a substantial advantage over . . .

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