Space: the next frontier for war? | The Economist

The Economist

Published on Feb 20, 2019

President Trump has just announced plans to create a new military Space Force, increasing the prospect of a new theatre of war. How might war in space be fought?

The 1,300 active satellites above the earth provide a wide array of services – some of which are vital for emergency response and for the military. An attack on a countries satellites could be catastrophic and many worried that space may become a new theater of war. Large powers have developed various capabilities for destroying satellites

Now companies are building advanced service spacecraft that could become weapons. The purpose of these service craft is to repair and move existing satellites but all it takes is a change of intent for these spacecraft to become warcraft. A Chinese space weapon test which destroyed one of its own defunct satellites in 2007 created a great deal of debris that put other satellites in danger.

If debris from one act of destruction goes on to destroy further satellites, a chain reaction could then ensue, rendering some orbits unusable. This is known as the Kessler syndrome.

Because America’s armed forces gain more capability from satellites than any other country, America has the most to lose from war in space. It is planning to increase its capabilities in the area. President Trump wants a new space force. The world will hope for peace in the cosmos but history suggests that such ideals are not easily maintained.

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