New US Space Force Points to Weaponisation of Space Safety

  • Petr Boháček
  • 19.6.2018 11:52

Donald Trump’s decision to start a new US Space Force announced on 18 June confirms the growing weaponisation of the space domain under for the purposes of space situational awareness (SSA) to keep satellites safe. The move signals the merging of space safety with national security and geopolitical rivalries in the global, geographically unlimited domain.

The decision to create an equal and separate sixth US military force was reportedly opposed by many US generals as well Defence Minister James Mattis. Donald Trump argued that the new force aims not at mere US presence but dominance in space. The new agency is likely to assume many new responsibilities in space, including purely civilian issues, as the space agenda remains fragmented across the United States governmental agencies, from the Air Force to the Department of Commerce. Additional, new requirements for satellite design and operation to avoid collision, breakups and creation of new space debris were also published.

With the Outer Space Treaty banning militarisation of space, space safety as a growing issue linked to the exponentially growing number of satellites on the orbit is being weaponised. Many SSA systems possess military capacities, including ballistic missile monitoring, while Russia is reportedly developing a laser debris removal technique. Jamming, dazzling and spoofing by lasers or other tools already represent a significant challenge that disrupts satellites communication. Meanwhile, the EU remains dramatically behind as only some €500 million of the €16 billion 2017-2021 space budget will be dedicated to space security.

About author: Petr Boháček

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