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Militarisation of space

Militarisation of space

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Encyclopedia
The militarisation of space is the placement and development of weaponry and military technology in outer space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

.

History



Acquisition of high grounds for military advantage has been a perennial feature of military campaigns. For thousands of years, military tacticians have exploited the concept of "capturing" or "keeping" the high ground in military campaigns. Fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s were built on high points, with walls that enabled archers
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

 to rain down deadly volleys. Mobile towers served as siege weapons. Ships were equipped with crow's nests that facilitated long-range reconnaissance. Hot air balloons were lofted by Napoleon, during the American Civil War, and the first World War to observe troop movements. Aircraft were initially seen as useful for high level reconnaissance, which was quickly followed by aerial battles.

Aircraft revolutionised warfare during the twentieth century, leading to "command of the air" as a key strategic concept. The U.S. had already begun its Discoverer space program, now known as Corona, when Francis Gary Powers' U-2 aircraft was shot down in the 1960 U-2 incident
U-2 Crisis of 1960
The 1960 U-2 incident occurred during the Cold War on May 1, 1960, during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower and during the leadership of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, when a United States U-2 spy plane was shot down over the airspace of the Soviet Union.The United States government at...

. The quest for safer observation from space gained momentum. Initial attempts for control of the environment of space were led by both the US and the Soviet Union. They planned for controlling the realm of space with nuclear and conventional devices such as anti-satellite weapon
Anti-satellite weapon
Anti-satellite weapons are designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Currently, only the United States, the former Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China are known to have developed these weapons. On September 13, 1985, the United States destroyed US...

s (ASATs). The militarisation of space began in the 1960s, and has now evolved into a key military capability for space-faring nations, potentially giving decisive military advantage. Militarisation of space is the next step in this quest to gain higher ground. The idea of placing weapons in space can be found first in 20th century science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 stories.

One needs to define "militarisation" of space. Does militarisation mean placing weapons in space, or does it include orbiting capabilities that are used by the military such as GPS navigation, communications, and reconnaissance? If the latter definition applies, then space has been militarised for over 50 years already since the first Discoverer/Corona satellite launched in 1959.

While military activities have certainly taken place in space (since the launch of Sputnik by the Russian military), and space is an operating location for many military spacecraft (such as imaging & communications satellites) or a temporary transit medium for weapons (such as ballistic missiles), it must be pointed out that permanent stationing of operational weapons in space has yet never been conducted.

World War II and the V-2 rocket

Main articles: World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

.

As early as 1927 members of the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR)
Verein für Raumschiffahrt
The Verein für Raumschiffahrt was a German amateur rocket association prior to World War II that included members outside of Germany...

("Spaceflight Society") had started experimenting with liquid-fuelled rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

s. Rockets using a solid propellant had been used as weapons by all sides in WWI, and as a result, the Treaty of Versailles forbade solid fuel rocket research in Germany. By 1932 the Reichswehr
Reichswehr
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

 started taking notice of their developments for potential long-range artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 use, and a team led by General Walter Dornberger
Walter Dornberger
Major-General Dr Walter Robert Dornberger was a German Army artillery officer whose career spanned World Wars I and II. He was a leader of Germany's V-2 rocket program and other projects at the Peenemünde Army Research Center....

 was shown a test vehicle designed and flown by Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

. Although the rocket was of limited ability, Dornberger saw von Braun's genius and pushed for him to join the military.

Von Braun did so, as eventually did most of the other members of the society. In December 1934 von Braun scored another success with the flight of the A2 (A for Aggregat) rocket, a small model powered by ethanol
Ethanol
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a...

 and liquid oxygen
Liquid oxygen
Liquid oxygen — abbreviated LOx, LOX or Lox in the aerospace, submarine and gas industries — is one of the physical forms of elemental oxygen.-Physical properties:...

, with work on the design continuing in an attempt to improve reliability. Many different liquid fuels had been developed, but the German military specifically encouraged the use of ethanol as a rocket fuel because Germany had always been hampered by a shortage of crude oil-based fuels. Throughout WWII, a wide variety of military rockets were fueled by ethanol that were derived primarily from potatoes.

By 1936 the team had moved on from the A2 and started work on both the A3 and A4. The latter was a full-sised design with a range of about 175 km (108.7 mi), a top altitude of 80 km and a payload of about a tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

. This increase in capability had come through a complete redesign of the engine by Walter Thiel
Walter Thiel
Dr Walter Thiel was a German rocket scientist.He was the third civilian hired by Walter Dornberger for German research at Kummersdorf on November 1, 1932, , and in 1936, transferred to Dornberger's new rocket section...

. It was clear that von Braun's designs were turning into real weapons.

The A3 proved to be problematic, and a redesign was started as the A5. This version was completely reliable, and by 1941 the team had fired about 70 A5 rockets. The first A4 flew in March 1942, flying about 1.6 km and crashing into the water. The second launch reached an altitude of 11 km before exploding. The third rocket, launched on October 3, 1942, changed things by following its trajectory perfectly. It landed 193 km away, and became the first man-made object to enter space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

. Production started in 1943 on the wonder weapon
Wonder weapons
A wonder weapon is any very advanced form of weaponry whose design, production or deployment in the field of battle is impractical or ill-timed. Such weapons are radical departures from, or improvements of, the arms or machinery used at the time and are often intended to turn the tide of a current...

 Vergeltungswaffe 2 (reprisal weapon 2), or the V-2 as it became better known, at the insistence of Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

' propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 ministry.

The Cold War


During the Cold War, the world's two great superpowers — the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 — spent large proportions of their GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 on developing military technologies. The drive to place objects in orbit stimulated space research and started the Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

. In 1957, the USSR launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

.

By the end of the 1960s, both countries regularly deployed satellites. Spy satellite
Spy satellite
A spy satellite is an Earth observation satellite or communications satellite deployed for military or intelligence applications....

s were used by militaries to take accurate pictures of their rivals' military installations. As time passed the resolution and accuracy of orbital reconnaissance alarmed both sides of the iron curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

. Both the United States and the Soviet Union began to develop anti-satellite weapon
Anti-satellite weapon
Anti-satellite weapons are designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Currently, only the United States, the former Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China are known to have developed these weapons. On September 13, 1985, the United States destroyed US...

s to blind or destroy each other's satellites. Laser
Laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

 weapons, kamikaze
Kamikaze
The were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible....

 style satellites, as well as orbital nuclear explosion were researched with varying levels of success. Spy satellites were, and continue to be, used to monitor the dismantling of military assets in accordance with arms control treaties signed between the two superpowers. To use spy satellites in such a manner is often referred to in treaties as "national technical means of verification".

The superpowers developed ballistic missile
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

s to enable them to use nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

ry across great distances. As rocket science developed, the range of missiles increased and intercontinental ballistic missile
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

s (ICBM) were created, which could strike virtually any target on Earth in a timeframe measured in minutes rather than hours or days. In order to cover large distances ballistic missiles are usually launched into sub-orbital spaceflight
Sub-orbital spaceflight
A sub-orbital space flight is a spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere or surface of the gravitating body from which it was launched, so that it does not complete one orbital revolution....

. An intercontinental missile's altitude halfway through delivery is ca. 1200 km.
As soon as intercontinental missiles were developed, military planners began programs and strategies to counter their effectiveness.

USA


Early American efforts included the Nike-Zeus Program, Project Defender, the Sentinel Program and the Safeguard Program
Safeguard Program
The Safeguard Program was a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system developed during the late 1960s. Safeguard was designed to protect U.S. ICBM missile sites from counterforce attack, thus preserving the option of an unimpeded retaliatory strike. Safeguard used much of the same technology...

. The late 1950s Nike-Zeus Program involved firing Nike nuclear missiles against oncoming ICBMs, thus exploding nuclear warheads over the North Pole. This idea was soon scrapped and work began on Project Defender in the 1960s. Project Defender attempted to destroy Soviet ICBMs at launch with satellite weapon systems, which orbited over Russia. This program proved unfeasible with the technology from that era. Work then began on the Sentinel Program which used anti-ballistic missile
Anti-ballistic missile
An anti-ballistic missile is a missile designed to counter ballistic missiles .A ballistic missile is used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight trajectory. The term "anti-ballistic missile" describes any antimissile system designed to counter...

s (ABM) to shoot down incoming ICBMs.

In the late 1950s United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 considered dropping an atomic bomb on the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 to display U.S. superiority to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the rest of the world (Project A119
Project A119
Project A119, also known as "A Study of Lunar Research Flights", was a top-secret plan developed in the late 1950s by the United States Air Force. The aim of the project was to detonate a nuclear bomb on the Moon to boost public morale in the United States after the Soviet Union took an early lead...

). In 1959, a feasibility study of a possible military base on the Moon (Project Horizon
Project Horizon
Project Horizon was a study to determine the feasibility of constructing a scientific / military base on the Moon. On June 8, 1959, a group at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency produced for the U.S. Department of the Army a report entitled Project Horizon, A U.S. Army Study for the Establishment...

) was conducted. In 1958, a plan for a 21-airman underground Air Force base on the Moon by 1968 was developed (Lunex Project
Lunex Project
The Lunex Project was a US Air Force 1958 plan for a manned lunar landing prior to the Apollo Program. The final lunar expedition plan in 1961 was for a 21-airman underground Air Force base on the Moon by 1968 at a total cost of $ 7.5 billion....

).

The Safeguard Program
Safeguard Program
The Safeguard Program was a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system developed during the late 1960s. Safeguard was designed to protect U.S. ICBM missile sites from counterforce attack, thus preserving the option of an unimpeded retaliatory strike. Safeguard used much of the same technology...

 was deployed in the mid-1970s and was based on the Sentinel Program. Since the ABM treaty only allowed for construction of a single ABM facility to protect either the nation's capital city or an ICBM field, the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex was constructed near Nekoma, North Dakota
Nekoma, North Dakota
As of the census of 2000, there were 51 people, 21 households, and 12 families residing in the city. The population density was 136.7 people per square mile . There were 41 housing units at an average density of 109.9 per square mile...

 to protect the Grand Forks ICBM facility. Though it was only operational as an ABM facility for less than a year, the Perimeter Acquisition Radar (PAR), one of Safeguard's components, was still operational as of 2005. One major problem with the Safeguard Program, and past ABM systems, was that the interceptor missiles, though state-of-the-art, required nuclear warheads to destroy incoming ICBMs. Future ABMs will likely be more accurate and utilize hit-to-kill or conventional warheads to knock down incoming warheads. The technology involved in such systems was shaky at best, and deployment was limited by the ABM treaty of 1972.

In 1983 American president Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 proposed the "Strategic Defense Initiative
Strategic Defense Initiative
The Strategic Defense Initiative was proposed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983 to use ground and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. The initiative focused on strategic defense rather than the prior strategic...

" — a space-based system to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear missiles. The plan was ridiculed by some as unrealistic and expensive, and Dr. Carol Rosin
Carol Rosin
Carol Sue Rosin is an award-winning educator, author, leading aerospace executive and space and missile defense consultant. She is a former spokesperson for Wernher von Braun and has consulted to a number of companies, organizations, government departments and the intelligence community...

 nicknamed the policy "Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

", after the popular science-fiction movie franchise. The late astronomer Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

, amongst others, pointed out that in order to defeat "Star Wars" the Soviet Union had only to build more missiles, allowing them to overcome the defense by sheer force of numbers. Proponents of the "Star Wars" policy champion the strategy of technology
Strategy of Technology
The Strategy of Technology doctrine involves a country using its advantage in technology to create and deploy weapons of sufficient power and numbers so as to overawe or beggar its opponents, forcing them to spend their limited resources on developing hi-tech countermeasures and straining their...

 for hastening the Soviet Union's downfall. According to this viewpoint, Communist leaders were forced to either shift large portions of their GDP to counter perceived "Star Wars" weapon systems or watch as their expensive nuclear stockpiles were rendered obsolete.

United States Space Command
United States Space Command
The United States Space Command was a Unified Combatant Command of the United States Department of Defense, created in 1985 to help institutionalize the use of outer space by the United States Armed Forces. The Commander in Chief of U.S...

 (USSPACECOM), a unified command
Unified Combatant Command
A Unified Combatant Command is a United States Department of Defense command that is composed of forces from at least two Military Departments and has a broad and continuing mission. These commands are established to provide effective command and control of U.S. military forces, regardless of...

 of the United States military was created in 1985 to help institutionalize the use of outer space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

 by the United States Armed Forces. The Commander in Chief of U.S. Space Command (CINCUSSPACECOM), with headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base
Peterson Air Force Base
Peterson Air Force Base is a base of the United States Air Force located at Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado, United States and it provides runways for the adjacent City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport under a shared joint civil-military airport arrangement...

, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 was also the Commander in Chief of the bi-national U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command
North American Aerospace Defense Command
North American Aerospace Defense Command is a joint organization of Canada and the United States that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defense for the two countries. Headquarters NORAD is located at Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado...

(CINCNORAD) and for the majority of time during USSPACECOM’s existence also the Commander of the U.S. Air Force major command Air Force Space Command
Air Force Space Command
Air Force Space Command is a major command of the United States Department of the Air Force, with its headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. AFSPC supports U.S. military operations worldwide through the use of many different types of satellite, launch and cyber operations....

. Military space operations coordinated by USSPACECOM proved to be very valuable for the U.S.-led coalition in the 1991 Persian Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

.

The U.S. military has relied on communications, intelligence, navigation, missile warning and weather satellite systems in areas of conflict since the early 1990s, including the Balkans, Southwest Asia and Afghanistan. Space systems are considered indispensable providers of tactical information to U.S. war-fighters.

As part of the ongoing initiative to transform the U.S. military, on 26 June 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Henry Rumsfeld is an American politician and businessman. Rumsfeld served as the 13th Secretary of Defense from 1975 to 1977 under President Gerald Ford, and as the 21st Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2006 under President George W. Bush. He is both the youngest and the oldest person to...

 announced that U.S. Space Command would merge with USSTRATCOM. The UCP directed that Unified Combatant Command
Unified Combatant Command
A Unified Combatant Command is a United States Department of Defense command that is composed of forces from at least two Military Departments and has a broad and continuing mission. These commands are established to provide effective command and control of U.S. military forces, regardless of...

s be capped at ten, and with the formation of the new United States Northern Command
United States Northern Command
United States Northern Command is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States military. Created on 1 October 2002 in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, its mission is to protect the United States homeland and support local, state, and federal authorities...

, one would have to be deactivated in order to maintain that level. Thus the USSPACECOM merger into USSTRATCOM.

USSR


The Soviet Union was also researching innovative ways of gaining space supremacy. Two of their most notable efforts were the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System
Fractional Orbital Bombardment System
The Fractional Orbital Bombardment System was a Soviet ICBM program in the 1960s that after launch would go into a low Earth orbit and would then de-orbit for an attack. It had no range limit and the orbital flight path would not reveal the target location...

 (FOBS) and Polyus orbital weapons system.

FOBS was a Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 ICBM
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

 in the 1960s that once launched would go into a low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

 whereupon it would de-orbit for an attack. This system would create a path to North America over the South Pole
South Pole
The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole...

, striking targets from the opposite direction from which NORAD
North American Aerospace Defense Command
North American Aerospace Defense Command is a joint organization of Canada and the United States that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defense for the two countries. Headquarters NORAD is located at Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado...

 early warning systems are oriented. The missile was phased out in January 1983 in compliance with the SALT II treaty.

The SALT II treaty (1979) prohibited the deployment of FOBS systems:
Each Party undertakes not to develop, test, or deploy:
(...)
(c) systems for placing into Earth orbit nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s or any other kind of weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

, including fractional orbital missiles;


On May 15, 1987, an Energia
Energia
Energia was a Soviet rocket that was designed by NPO Energia to serve as a heavy-lift expendable launch system as well as a booster for the Buran spacecraft. Control system main developer enterprise was the NPO "Electropribor"...

 rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

 flew for the first time. The payload was a prototype orbital weapons platform Polyus (also known as Polus, Skif-DM or 17F19DM), the final version of which according to some reports could be armed with nuclear space mines and defensive cannon. The Polyus weapons platform was designed to defend itself against anti-satellite weapons with recoilless cannon. It was also equipped with a sensor blinding laser to confuse approaching weapons and could launch test targets to validate the fire control system. The attempt to place the satellite into orbit failed.

Post-Cold War


As the Cold War ended with the implosion of the Soviet Union the space race between the two superpowers ended. The United States of America was left as the only superpower on Earth with a large concentration of the world's wealth and technological advancement. Despite the United States' new status in the world, the monopoly of space militarisation is in no way certain. Countries such as China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 have begun their own space programmes, while the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 collectively works to create satellite systems to rival those of the United States.

The USSR Space Forces were established as the Ministry of Defense Space Units in 1982. In 1991 the Soviet Union disintegrated. The Russian Armed Forces
Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are the military services of Russia, established after the break-up of the Soviet Union. On 7 May 1992 Boris Yeltsin signed a decree establishing the Russian Ministry of Defence and placing all Soviet Armed Forces troops on the territory of the RSFSR...

 were established on 7 May 1992, enabling the creation of Russian Space Forces later that year on 10 August. In July 1997 the Space Force was dissolved as a separate service arm and incorporated to the Strategic Rocket Forces
Strategic Rocket Forces
The Strategic Missile Troops or Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation or RVSN RF , transliteration: Raketnye voyska strategicheskogo naznacheniya Rossiyskoy Federatsii, literally Missile Troops of Strategic Designation of the Russian Federation) are a military branch of the Russian...

 along with the Space Missile Defense Forces, which previously were part of the Troops of Air Defense. The Russian Space Forces were officially reborn on June 1, 2001 as an independent section of the Russian military.

Post Cold War space militarisation seems to revolve around three types of applications. (The word "seems" is used because much of this subject matter is inconclusively verifiable, due to the high level of secrecy that exists among the great powers with regard to the details of space sensing systems.) The first application is the continuing development of "spy" or reconnaissance satellites which began in the Cold War era, but has progressed significantly since that time. Spy satellites perform a variety of missions such as high resolution photography (IMINT
IMINT
Imagery Intelligence , is an intelligence gathering discipline which collects information via satellite and aerial photography. As a means of collecting intelligence, IMINT is a subset of intelligence collection management, which, in turn, is a subset of intelligence cycle management...

), communications eavesdropping (SIGINT
SIGINT
Signals intelligence is intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether between people , whether involving electronic signals not directly used in communication , or combinations of the two...

), and covert communications (HUMINT
HUMINT
HUMINT, a syllabic abbreviation of the words HUMan INTelligence, refers to intelligence gathering by means of interpersonal contact, as opposed to the more technical intelligence gathering disciplines such as SIGINT, IMINT and MASINT...

). These tasks are performed on a regular basis both during peacetime and war operations. Satellites are also used by the nuclear states to provide early warning of missile launches, locate nuclear detonations, and detect preparations for otherwise clandestine or surprise nuclear tests (at least those tests or preparations carried out above-ground); this was the case when, in 1998, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 both conducted a series of nuclear tests; in addition, a nuclear-detection satellite of the Vela
Vela (satellite)
Vela was the name of a group of satellites developed as the Vela Hotel element of Project Vela by the United States to monitor compliance with the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty by the Soviet Union, and other nuclear-capable states. It means vigil or "watch" in Spanish.Vela started out as a small...

 type was also reported to have detected a nuclear detonation in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 in 1978 that was believed to be a South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

n nuclear test in what was famously called the Vela Incident
Vela Incident
The Vela Incident was an unidentified "double flash" of light that was detected by an American Vela Hotel satellite on September 22, 1979....

. Early-warning satellites can also be used to detect tactical missile launches; this capability was used during Desert Storm when America was able to provide advanced warning to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 of Iraqi SS-1 SCUD missile launches.

Spy satellites


Types of spy satellites United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    • Lacrosse/Onyx
      Lacrosse (satellite)
      For the 2009 Lunar Impactor Mission designed to crash into the moon, see LCROSS.Lacrosse and Onyx are the code names for the United States' National Reconnaissance Office terrestrial radar imaging reconnaissance satellite. While not officially confirmed by the NRO or anybody in the U.S...

    • Misty/Sirconic
      Zirconic
      Zirconic is the name of a program for the development of stealth reconnaissance satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office. The program includes the Misty and Prowler spacecraft.- External links :* * * , The Washington Post, December 11, 2004....

    • Samos
      Samos (satellite)
      The Samos E or SAMOS program was a relatively short-lived series of reconnaissance satellites for the United States in the early 1960s, also used as a cover for the intitial development of the KH-7 Gambit system...

    • Quasar
    • Vela
      Vela (satellite)
      Vela was the name of a group of satellites developed as the Vela Hotel element of Project Vela by the United States to monitor compliance with the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty by the Soviet Union, and other nuclear-capable states. It means vigil or "watch" in Spanish.Vela started out as a small...

       Soviet Union
      Soviet Union
      The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

    • Cosmos
      Cosmos (satellite)
      Kosmos is a designation given to a large number of satellites operated by the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia. Kosmos 1, the first spacecraft to be given a Kosmos designation, was launched on March 16, 1962....

    • Almas
      Almaz
      The Almaz program was a series of military space stations launched by the Soviet Union under cover of the civilian Salyut DOS-17K program after 1971....

       (manned)
    • Yantar
      Yantar (satellite)
      Yantar is a series of Russian reconnaissance satellites, which supplemented and eventually replaced the Zenit spacecraft. Kosmos 2175, a Yantar-4K2 or Kobal't spacecraft, was the first satellite to be launched by the Russian Federation following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Yantar-Terilen...

    • Senit
      Zenit spy satellite
      Zenit is the name of a series of military spy satellites launched by the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1994. To conceal their nature, all flights were given the public Kosmos designation...

       United Kingdom
      United Kingdom
      The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

    • Sircon
      Zircon (satellite)
      Zircon was the codename for a British signals intelligence satellite, intended to be launched in 1988, before being cancelled.During the Cold War, Britain's GCHQ was heavily reliant on America's National Security Agency for communications interception from space. Concern heightened at the time of...

       (project cancelled)
    • Skynet
      Skynet (satellites)
      Skynet is a family of military satellites, now operated by Paradigm Secure Communications on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence, which provide strategic communication services to the three branches of the British Armed Forces and to NATO forces engaged on coalition tasks.-Skynet 1:There were two...

       France
      France
      The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

    • Helios 1B
      Helios 1B
      The Hélios 1B was a French military photo-reconnaissance satellite in which Italy and Spain also participated. It was launched from the Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana on 3 December 1999 at 16:22:00 UTC. The spacecraft rode aboard an Ariane 40 rocket which also carried the French military...

       (destroyed), Helios 2A
      Helios 2A
      The Helios 2 system includes Helios 2A and Helios 2B, both of which are european military observation satellites used by France, Belgium, Spain . Helios 2A was launched on December 18, 2004 by an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Helios 2B was launched five years later on December 18, 2009,...

       Germany
      Germany
      Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

    • SAR-Lupe 1-5 Italy
      Italy
      Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

    • COSMO-SkyMed
      COSMO-SkyMed
      COSMO-SkyMed is an Earth observation satellite system funded by the Italian Ministry of Research and Ministry of Defence and...

       People's Republic of China
      People's Republic of China
      China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

    • Fanhui Shi Weixing
      Fanhui Shi Weixing
      Fanhui Shi Weixing is a series of Chinese recoverable reconnaissance satellites. The satellites were used for both military and civilian observation needs, with a total of 26 flights. The first flight was FSW-0 on 1969-06-01 and the last SJ-8 on 2006-09-09....

       India
      India
      India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

    • Technology Experiment Satellite
      Technology Experiment Satellite
      Technology Experiment Satellite or is an experimental satellite to demonstrate and validate, in orbit, technologies that could be used in the future satellites of Indian Space Research Organization . TES weighs 1108 kg and was successfully placed in 568 km sun synchronous orbit on ...


Global Positioning Systems


The second application of space militarisation currently in use is GPS or Global Positioning System
Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

. This satellite navigation system is used for determining one's precise location and providing a highly accurate time reference
Time transfer
Time transfer is a scheme where multiple sites share a precise reference time. Time transfer solves problems such as astronomical observatories correlating observed flashes or other phenomenon with each other, as well as cell phone towers coordinating handoffs as a phone moves from one cell to...

 almost anywhere on Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 or in Earth orbit. It uses an intermediate circular orbit (ICO) satellite constellation
Satellite constellation
A group of artificial satellites working in concert is known as a satellite constellation. Such a constellation can be considered to be a number of satellites with coordinated ground coverage, operating together under shared control, synchronised so that they overlap well in coverage and...

 of at least 24 satellites. The GPS system was designed by and is controlled by the United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 and can be used by anyone, free of charge. The cost of maintaining the system is approximately US$400 million per year, including the replacement of aging satellites. The first of 24 satellites that form the current GPS constellation (Block II) was placed into orbit on February 14, 1989. The 52nd GPS satellite since the beginning in 1978 was launched November 6, 2004 aboard a Delta II
Delta II
Delta II was an American space launch system, originally designed and built by McDonnell Douglas. Delta II is part of the Delta rocket family and was in service from 1989 until November 1, 2011...

 rocket.
The primary military purposes are to allow improved command and control of forces through improved location awareness, and to facilitate accurate targeting of smart bombs, cruise missiles, or other munitions. The satellites also carry nuclear detonation detectors, which form a major portion of the United States Nuclear Detonation Detection System. Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an concern about the level of control over the GPS network and commercial issues has resulted in the planned Galileo positioning system
Galileo positioning system
Galileo is a global navigation satellite system currently being built by the European Union and European Space Agency . The €20 billion project is named after the famous Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei...

. Russia already operates an independent system called GLONASS
GLONASS
GLONASS , acronym for Globalnaya navigatsionnaya sputnikovaya sistema or Global Navigation Satellite System, is a radio-based satellite navigation system operated for the Russian government by the Russian Space Forces...

 (global navigation system), the system operates with 24 satellites that are deployed in 3 orbital planes as opposed to the 4 GPS is deployed in.
The Chinese "Beidou" system provides China a similar regional (not global) navigation capability.

Military communication systems


The third current application of militarization of space can be demonstrated by the emerging military doctrine of network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare
Network-centric warfare, also called network-centric operations, is a military doctrine or theory of war pioneered by the United States Department of Defense in the 1990's....

. Network-centric warfare relies heavily on the use of high speed communications which allows all soldiers and branches of the military to view the battlefield in real-time. Real-time technology improves the situational awareness of all of the military’s assets and commanders in a given theatre. For example, a soldier
Soldier
A soldier is a member of the land component of national armed forces; whereas a soldier hired for service in a foreign army would be termed a mercenary...

 in the battle zone can access satellite imagery of enemy positions two blocks away, and if necessary e-mail
E-mail
Electronic mail, commonly known as email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Some early email systems required that the author and the recipient both be online at the...

 the coordinates to a bomber or weapon platform hovering overhead while the commander, hundreds of miles away, watches as the events unfold on a monitor. This high-speed communication is facilitated by a separate internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 created by the military for the military. Communication satellites hold this system together by creating an informational grid over the given theatre of operations. The Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 is currently working to establish a Global Information Grid
Global Information Grid
The Global Information Grid is an all-encompassing communications project of the United States Department of Defense.It is defined as a "globally interconnected, end-to-end set of information capabilities for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating, and managing information on demand to...

 to connect all military units and branches into a computerized network in order to share information and create a more efficient military.

Military spaceplanes



It was revealed that Soviet officials were concerned that the US Space Shuttle program
Space Shuttle program
NASA's Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System , was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011...

 had such military objectives such as to make a sudden dive into the atmosphere to drop bombs on Moscow and these concerns were part of the motivation behind pursuing their own Buran program.

The NASA uncrewed spaceplane
Spaceplane
A spaceplane is a vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that...

 project X-37
Boeing X-37
The Boeing X-37 is an American unmanned vertical-takeoff, horizontal-landing spaceplane. The X-37 is operated by the United States Air Force for orbital spaceflight missions intended to demonstrate reusable space technologies...

 was transferred to the US Department of Defense in 2004. It is unclear what its military mission would be. The X-37 is akin to a space version of Unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

.

Weapons in space



Space weapons are weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

s used in space warfare
Space warfare
Space warfare is combat that takes place in outer space, i.e. outside the atmosphere. Space warfare therefore includes ground-to-space warfare, such as attacking satellites from the Earth, as well as space-to-space warfare, such as satellites attacking satellites.It does not include the use of...

. They include weapons that can attack space systems in orbit (i.e. anti-satellite weapon
Anti-satellite weapon
Anti-satellite weapons are designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Currently, only the United States, the former Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China are known to have developed these weapons. On September 13, 1985, the United States destroyed US...

s), attack targets on the earth from space or disable missiles travelling through space. In the course of the militarisation of space, such weapons were developed mainly by the contesting superpower
Superpower
A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests...

s during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, and some remain under development today. Space weapons are also a central theme in military science fiction
Military science fiction
Military science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction in which the principal characters are members of a military service and an armed conflict is taking place, normally in space, or on a planet other than Earth...

 and sci-fi video games.

Terrestrial-type weapons in space


Soviet Union, and later Russian cosmonauts have regularly carried small arms (handguns) on spacecraft, as part of the special emergency kit included in landing capsules.
The weapon was included to protect the cosmonauts from wild animals after re-entry if the capsule landed in a wilderness area and could not be quickly retrieved. United States Astronauts are also provided a firearm for similar use.

The Russian space station Salyut 3
Salyut 3
Salyut 3 was a Soviet space station launched on June 25, 1974. It was the second Almaz military space station, and the first such station to be launched successfully. It was included in the Salyut program to disguise its true military nature...

 was fitted with a 23mm cannon, which was successfully test fired at target satellites, at ranges from 500 m to 3000 m.

Space warfare


Space warfare is combat that takes place in outer space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

, i.e. outside the atmosphere
Atmosphere
An atmosphere is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low...

. Technically, as a distinct classification, it refers to battle
Battle
Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. In a battle, each combatant will seek to defeat the others, with defeat determined by the conditions of a military campaign...

s where the targets themselves are in space. Space warfare therefore includes ground-to-space warfare, such as attacking satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s from the Earth, as well as space-to-space warfare, such as satellites attacking satellites.

It does not include the use of satellites for espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

, surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

, or military communications
Military communications
Historically, the first military communications had the form of sending/receiving simple signals . Respectively, the first distinctive tactics of military communications were called Signals, while units specializing in those tactics received the Signal Corps name...

, however useful those activities might be. It does not technically include space-to-ground warfare, where orbital objects attack ground, sea or air targets directly, but the public and media frequently use the term to include any conflict which includes space as a theater of operations, regardless of the intended target. For example, a rapid delivery system in which troops are deployed from orbit might be described as "space warfare," even though the military uses the term as described above.

A film was produced by the U.S. Military in the early 1960s called Space and National Security which depicted space warfare. From 1985 to 2002 there was a United States Space Command
United States Space Command
The United States Space Command was a Unified Combatant Command of the United States Department of Defense, created in 1985 to help institutionalize the use of outer space by the United States Armed Forces. The Commander in Chief of U.S...

, which in 2002 merged with the United States Strategic Command
United States Strategic Command
United States Strategic Command is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the United States Department of Defense . The Command, including components, employs more than 2,700 people, representing all four services, including DoD civilians and contractors, who oversee the command's operationally...

. There is a Russian Space Force
Russian Space Forces (VKS)
The Russian Space Forces is the branch of the Russian Military responsible for military space operations. Established on August 10, 1992, following the breakup of the Soviet Union and the creation of the Russian Armed Forces, the organisation shares control of the Baikonur Cosmodrome with the...

, which was established on August 10, 1992, and which became an independent section of the Russian military on June 1, 2001.

Only a few incidents of space warfare have occurred in world history, and all were training missions, as opposed to actions against real opposing forces. In the mid-1980s a USAF pilot in an F-15
F-15 Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights...

 successfully shot down the P78-1
P78-1
P78-1 or Solwind was a United States satellite launched aboard an Atlas F rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on February 24, 1979. The satellite operated until September 13, 1985, when it was shot down in orbit by an F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft during an US Air Force ASM-135 ASAT...

, a communications satellite in a 345 miles (555.2 km) orbit.

In 2007 the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 used a missile system to destroy one of its obsolete satellites (see 2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test
2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test
The 2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test was conducted by China on January 11, 2007. A Chinese weather satellite—the FY-1C polar orbit satellite of the Fengyun series, at an altitude of , with a mass of 750 kg—was destroyed by a kinetic kill vehicle traveling with a speed of 8 km/s in...

), and in 2008 the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 similarly destroyed its malfunctioning satellite USA 193
USA 193
USA-193, also known as NRO launch 21 , was an American military spy satellite launched on December 14, 2006. It was the first launch conducted by the United Launch Alliance...

. To date, there have been no human casualties resulting from conflict in space, nor has any ground target been successfully neutralised from orbit.

International treaties governing space limit or regulate conflicts in space and limit the installation of weapon systems, especially nuclear weapons.

Space treaties


Treaties are agreed to when all parties perceive a benefit from becoming a signatory participant in the treaty. As mutually assured destruction (MAD) became the deterrent strategy between the two superpowers in the Cold War, many countries worked together to avoid extending the threat of nuclear weapons to space based launchers.

Outer Space Treaty



The Outer Space Treaty, considered by the Legal Subcommittee in 1966. Later that year, agreement was reached in the General Assembly. The treaty included the following principles:
  • the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
  • outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States;
  • outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means;
  • States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
  • the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
  • Astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind;
  • States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental activities;
  • States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and
  • States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.


In summary, the treaty initiated the banning of signatories' placing of nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s or any other weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

 in orbit of Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

, installing them on the moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 or any other celestial body
Celestial Body
Celestial Body is a Croatian film directed by Lukas Nola. It was released in 2000....

, or to otherwise station them in outer space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

. The United States, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and the Soviet Union signed the treaty and it entered into effect on October 10, 1967. As of January 1, 2005, 98 States have ratified, and an additional 27 have signed the Outer Space Treaty.

Note that this treaty does not ban the placement of weapons in space in general, only nuclear weapons and WMD.

Space Preservation Treaty



The Space Preservation Treaty was a proposed 2006 UN General Assembly resolution against all space weapons. Three countries, most notably the United States of America, abstained from voting on most provisions of this treaty because the proposed treaty did not do enough to clearly define what is meant by a "space weapon", and therefore was open to wide interpretation and impossible to verify whether it was being violated.

National Missile Defense (NMD)


With the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War defense spending was reduced and space research was chiefly focused on peaceful research. American military research is focused on a more modest goal of preventing the United States from being subject to nuclear blackmail
Nuclear blackmail
Nuclear blackmail is a form of nuclear strategy in which an aggressor uses the threat of use of nuclear weapons to force an adversary to perform some action or make some concessions. It is a type of extortion, related to brinkmanship.-Effectiveness:...

 or nuclear terrorism by a rogue state
Rogue state
Rogue state is a controversial term applied by some international theorists to states they consider threatening to the world's peace. This means meeting certain criteria, such as being ruled by authoritarian regimes that severely restrict human rights, sponsor terrorism, and seek to proliferate...

.

On 16 December 2002, US President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 signed National Security Presidential Directive which outlined a plan to begin deployment of operational ballistic missile defense systems by 2004. The following day the US formally requested from the UK and Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 use of facilities in RAF Fylingdales
RAF Fylingdales
RAF Fylingdales is a Royal Air Force station on Snod Hill in the North York Moors, England. Its motto is "Vigilamus" . It is a radar base and part of the United States-controlled Ballistic Missile Early Warning System...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Thule
Thule
Thule Greek: Θούλη, Thoulē), also spelled Thula, Thila, or Thyïlea, is, in classical European literature and maps, a region in the far north. Though often considered to be an island in antiquity, modern interpretations of what was meant by Thule often identify it as Norway. Other interpretations...

, Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

, respectively, as a part of the NMD Program. The administration continued to push the program, despite highly publicised but not unexpected trial-and-error technical failures during development and over the objections of some scientists who opposed it. The projected cost of the program for the years 2004 to 2009 was 53 billion US dollars, making it the largest single line in The Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

's budget.

Missile Defense does not station weapons in space, but is designed to intercept incoming warheads at a very high altitude which requires the interceptor to travel into space to achieve the intercept. These missiles are both land based and sea based.

Quotations

  • "Control of space means control of the world." — Vice President Lyndon Johnson, 1961
  • "It's politically sensitive, but it's going to happen. Some people don't want to hear this, and it sure isn't in vogue, but — absolutely — we’re going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space. That’s why the US has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms. We will engage terrestrial targets someday — ships, airplanes, land targets — from space." — Commander-in-Chief of US Strategic Command (1994–1996), Joseph W. Ashy
    Joseph W. Ashy
    General Joseph William Ashy, USAF was commander in chief of North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Space Command, and commander of Air Force Space Command, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado...

  • "The competition between military forces is moving towards outer space ... this is a historical inevitability and a development that cannot be turned back"; "The air force will extend its reach from the sky to space, from defence of Chinese territory to attack [of threats] as well. We will improve the overall capability to strike a long-distance target with high precision, fight electronic or internet warfare with back-up from space ... and deliver our military strategic assets." — General Xu Qiliang
    Xu Qiliang
    Xu Qiliang is a general in the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China, a member of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China , and the current commander of the People's Liberation Army Air Force.Born in Linqu County, Shandong Province, he is the son of Xu...

    , head of China's air force
    People's Liberation Army Air Force
    The People's Liberation Army Air Force is the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army, the military of the People's Republic of China...

    , 2009

See also

  • Anti-satellite weapon
    Anti-satellite weapon
    Anti-satellite weapons are designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Currently, only the United States, the former Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China are known to have developed these weapons. On September 13, 1985, the United States destroyed US...

  • Artificial satellites
    Satellite
    In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

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    • GPS
    • Spy satellite
      Spy satellite
      A spy satellite is an Earth observation satellite or communications satellite deployed for military or intelligence applications....

  • Asia's Space Race
  • Ballistic missiles
  • Commercialization of space
    Commercialization of space
    Commercialization of space is the use of equipment sent into or through outer space to provide goods or services of commercial value, either by a corporation or state. Examples of the commercial use of space include satellite navigation systems, satellite television and satellite radio...

  • Disclosure Project
  • Fractional Orbital Bombardment System
    Fractional Orbital Bombardment System
    The Fractional Orbital Bombardment System was a Soviet ICBM program in the 1960s that after launch would go into a low Earth orbit and would then de-orbit for an attack. It had no range limit and the orbital flight path would not reveal the target location...

  • High altitude nuclear explosion
    High altitude nuclear explosion
    High-altitude nuclear explosions have historically been nuclear explosions which take place above altitudes of 30 km, still inside the Earth's atmosphere. Such explosions have been tests of nuclear weapons, used to determine the effects of the blast and radiation in the exoatmospheric...

  • Kill vehicle
    Kill vehicle
    Kill vehicle is a term from space weapon development and science fiction which denotes either a kinetic projectile or an explosive warhead supposed to impact on or near a target...

  • Mutual assured destruction (MAD)
    Mutual assured destruction
    Mutual Assured Destruction, or mutually assured destruction , is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of high-yield weapons of mass destruction by two opposing sides would effectively result in the complete, utter and irrevocable annihilation of...

  • Orbital bombardment
  • Outer Space Treaty
    Outer Space Treaty
    The Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law...

  • Polyus (spacecraft)
  • Rods from God
  • Space geostrategy
    Space geostrategy
    Geostrategy in space deals with the strategic considerations of location and resources in outer space territory. In essence, it is the study of the strategic application of resources to the geography of space...

  • Strategic Defense Initiative
    Strategic Defense Initiative
    The Strategic Defense Initiative was proposed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983 to use ground and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. The initiative focused on strategic defense rather than the prior strategic...

  • Strategy of technology
    Strategy of Technology
    The Strategy of Technology doctrine involves a country using its advantage in technology to create and deploy weapons of sufficient power and numbers so as to overawe or beggar its opponents, forcing them to spend their limited resources on developing hi-tech countermeasures and straining their...

  • VRYAN programme
    VRYAN
    RYAN is an acronym for Raketno-Yadernoe Napadenie .-Purpose:The purpose of the operation was to collect intelligence on potential contingency plans of the Reagan administration to launch a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union." It was initiated in May 1981 by Yuri Andropov, then chairman...


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