Monday, May 01, 2017

Let's Weaponize Space!

Is space... the final frontier?

Perhaps. Putting weapon systems in space has long been a topic of discussion in the international community since the Cold War. Since then, discussions have been primarily based upon using space-based anti-missile systems as an added measure of defense. Today, discussions surrounding the deployment of space-based offensive weaponry are taking flight, shedding light on the idea that space may very well become the next domain of warfare.

The United States military relies pretty heavily on space-based communication technology for global operations, but it also maintains several surveillance and reconnaissance satellites; some of which, if prompted, are able to seek and destroy other satellites in space. Reports estimate the U.S. satellite arsenal, whether peaceful or militarized in nature, to be around 500 or more. This is about the same number of the rest of the world's satellite's combined. Clearly, we're making space great again.

Naturally, our adversaries rushing into space to lay claim are Russia and China. Space maneuvers have been relatively quiet as nations flex their space muscles by "testing" various technologies. China came to the forefront of space technologies when it successful launched its own anti-satellite weapon, destroying an older Chinese satellite. Russia, in both 2013 and 2015, quietly launched its own inspection satellites that are seemingly capable of carrying offensive equipment. However, both Chinese and Russian space-based technologies are below that of the United States. China simply lacks the acquisition and sensor technology. Russia, despite having a thorough arsenal of space technologies, is still modernizing its post-Soviet Union space program.

As of now, the most offensive-ish weapons based in space are other anti-satellite weapons. But that isn't to suggest we should disregard weaponize space, especially since our frenemies are eager to do so. Certainty actual space weapons (think massive laser beams pointed at Earth - no joke) are currently being research and developed by the U.S., China, and Russia. Although the Outer Space Treaty bars signers from places WMDs in Earth's orbit, it would not be surprising to see signers withdraw if deemed a national security interest. It is also likely to see space-based technologies and the race to deploy them become the next Cold War, as literature on the topic would suggest. 

Regardless, it is important to follow space-based technology developments closely.

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