National Security Space in the Twenty-First Century

By Teets, Peter B. | Air & Space Power Journal, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

National Security Space in the Twenty-First Century

Teets, Peter B., Air & Space Power Journal

FIFTY YEARS AGO, US defense and intelligence experts imagined the benefits possible from space-based surveillance, reconnaissance, communications, mapping, and environmental monitoring. Forty years ago, American ingenuity and industrial prowess made those possibilities a reality. Since then, space systems have brought better intelligence and stronger defenses by enabling the collection of new types of data and information; significantly increasing communications capabilities and capacities; revolutionizing precision navigation and timing; enriching science; establishing new markets; providing safer air, land, and sea transportation; and enabling faster disaster relief as well as more effective civil planning. These benefits and more were the reward of steadfast leadership, a vibrant industrial base, and the energies of talented people.

During the past 10 years, space-based systems have enabled dramatic improvement in military and intelligence operations. Thanks to those systems, our leaders have more accurate and current information on developments, issues, and crises in virtually all parts of the world. Due in large part to space systems, US military forces know more about their adversaries, see the battlefield more clearly, and can strike more quickly and precisely than any other military in history. Space systems are inextricably woven into the fabric of America's national security.

Space Power Is America's Decisive, Asymmetric Advantage

Today, space power represents a decisive, asymmetric advantage for the US government and, in particular, for military and intelligence organizations. The space systems themselves are technologically superior and, when fused with other air-, sea-, and land-based systems, provide the data and information to produce the knowledge and effects needed for successful diplomatic activities, negotiations, deterrence, or warfare.

Our unprecedented global situational awareness, global connectivity, strategic reach, and precision strike are largely enabled by our space systems. Capabilities such as those provided by global positioning system (GPS) satellites and by the military strategic and tactical relay system (MILSTAR)-our most advanced communications constellation currently in orbit-proved vitally critical to the war fighter during recent conflicts. Further, the successful application of space capabilities has enabled significantly changed concepts of power projection, decisive force, overseas presence, strategic agility, and forcible entry. For example, a combat air controller on horseback in Afghanistan used space capabilities to direct bombs on target. The successful application of space power has fundamentally changed our view of the age-old military precepts about mass, movement, fog, and friction.

However, retaining this decisive, asymmetric space advantage is becoming increasingly difficult. Yesterday's highly successful strategies resulted in space systems optimized to enhance the deterrent posture of our strategic forces by providing information about the military and economic status of a closed, hostile superpower. These systems focused on monitoring the long-term strategic posture while guaranteeing strategic warning-they were perfectly suited for knowing what was happening inside the borders of the Soviet Union.

Today's security challenges are more diverse and dispersed. We must still protect Americans and American interests from hostile armies and strategic threats, as well as from new, emerging threats from nonstate actors-particularly those posed by globally organized terrorists who may be fleeting and nearly invisible. These new threats-smaller and scattered globally-may strike anywhere, at any time.

Meanwhile, space is not solely an American domain. Countries worldwide continue vigorous civil, defense, and commercial space programs that provide highly accurate reconnaissance imaging, precision navigation and timing, and near-instantaneous global-communications capabilities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

National Security Space in the Twenty-First Century


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.