This is an Essay on “Militarization of Space and its Impacts on Current Global Warfare” for CSS, PMS, and Judiciary Examinations. Today, the world powers are battling for a dominant position in space. Every nation is preparing for this advanced warfare. As this is the current global phenomenon, here is the complete Essay on “Militarization of Space and its Impacts on Current Global Warfare” for CSS, and PMS.
2. Militarization of space in retrospect
3. Space, an ultimate strategic high ground
- Major players in the militarization of space
- U.S space endeavors; an effort at protecting its hegemony in the new arena of warfare
- China’s space ambitions; the rising dragon
- Russia’s growing space capabilities
4. Conceivable impacts of militarization of space on current warfare
- Space-based capabilities like GPS, communications, and reconnaissance satellites are inevitable for militaries of 21st century
- Balance of power dragged to the fourth arena of warfare
- New strengths; new vulnerabilities
- Space weapons and missile defense system technologies
- Dual-use of satellites; a peaceful purpose and potential military application
- A conflict started in space could easily translate into a full-blown war on Earth
- It would increase expenses based on threat perception rather than concrete intimidation.
- Politicians would have to convince the taxpayers to spend a huge amount of money on the weaponization of space with little short-term goals.
- It will cajole major powers to spend more on space programs
- Already amplified military expenses would further soar
5. Space for useful purposes; global endorsements and a shared dream
- Existing and proposed legal instruments
- Need for global consensus to lay down rules for un-ruled space
- Bridging the trust deficit among adversaries
- Improved and effective role of United Nations to ensure a peaceful space
7. How to deal with these impacts for promising future prospects.
Essay on “Militarization of Space and its Impacts on Current Global Warfare” for CSS, and PMS
World powers, over the decades, have been pursuing dominance in outer space on the pretext of peaceful purposes and for the larger good of humanity. Ostensibly, these space programs are projected to reap the benefits of weather monitoring, help in research and rescue, for detection of natural disasters, for advancement in science and technology, and to deal with space debris. However, this is an open secret that world powers are seeking more military prowess in this erstwhile peaceful arena, this increased militarization of space has brought the modern age of warfare to the ultimate high ground and it has profound impacts on economic, strategic, and political arenas of modern warfare and is undoubtedly a potentially existential threat.
Space, a no man’s land- is no more a neutral playground, superpower i.e. United States has successfully extended its hegemony and established its dominance in the ultimate strategic high ground of space. Other major powers including Russia and China are contesting for their share of power in space too. Earth’s orbit wasn’t always such a dangerous place. The Soviet Union destroyed a satellite for the last time in an experiment in 1982.
The United States tested its last Cold War anti-satellite missile, launched by a vertically flying F-15 fighter, in 1985. For the next three decades, both countries refrained from deploying weapons in space. The “unofficial moratorium,” put the brakes on the militarization of space.
Then in 2002, President George W. Bush withdrew the United States from a treaty with Russia prohibiting the development of antiballistic-missile weapons. The move cleared the way for Bush to deploy interceptor missiles that administration officials claimed would protect the United States from nuclear attack by “rogue” states such as North Korea. But withdrawing from the treaty also undermined the consensus on the strictly peaceful use of space.
Five years later, in January 2007, China struck one of its own old satellites with a ground-launched rocket as part of a test of a rudimentary anti-satellite system. This scattered thousands of potentially dangerous pieces of debris across low orbit. Beijing’s anti-satellite test accelerated the militarization of space. The United States, in particular, seized the opportunity to greatly expand its orbital arsenal.
2. Militarization of space in Retrospect
Space has been militarized since the earliest communication satellites were launched. According to estimates, about 1,300 active satellites adorn the globe in a crowded nest of orbits, providing worldwide communications, GPS navigation, weather forecasting, and planetary surveillance. Today, militaries all over the world rely on satellites for command and control, communication, monitoring, early warning, and navigation with the Global Positioning System.
Therefore, “peaceful uses” of outer space include military uses, even those which are not at all peaceful—such as using satellites to direct bombing raids anywhere around the globe. Quietly and without most people noticing, the world’s leading space powers — the United States, China, and Russia — have been deploying new and more sophisticated weaponry in space. Earth’s orbit is looking more and more like the planet’s surface — heavily armed and primed for war.
A growing number of “inspection” satellites lurk in orbit, possibly awaiting commands to sneak up on and disable or destroy other satellites. Down on the surface, more and more warships and ground installations pack powerful rockets that, with accurate guidance, could reach into orbit to destroy enemy spacecraft.
Space, an ultimate strategic high ground
U.S space endeavors; an effort at protecting its hegemony in the new arena of warfare
United states seek to be the undisputed power in space too. However, China and Russia aggressively seek to challenge U.S. superiority in space with ambitious military space programs of their own, the power struggle risks sparking a conflict that could cripple the entire planet’s space-based infrastructure. And though it might begin in space, such a conflict could easily ignite a full-blown war on Earth.
Russia’s growing space capabilities
Russia and China are increasingly pursuing the ability to attack America’s space-based assets. Russia’s 2010 military doctrine emphasized space as a crucial component of its defense strategy, and Russia has publicly stated they are researching and developing counter-space capabilities to degrade, disrupt and deny other users of space. Russia’s leaders also openly assert that Russian armed forces have anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, conduct ASAT research and employ satellite jammers.
4. Conceivable impacts of militarization of space on current warfare
The most potent challenge for America in the militarization of space comes from china. China, like Russia, has advanced ‘directed energy’ capabilities that could be used to track or blind satellites, and recently, has demonstrated the ability to perform complex maneuvers in space. In November 2015, China conducted its sixth test of a hypersonic strike vehicle, and an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons in December 2015. There is visible unrest in power corridors of the world regarding the ASAT test in 2007, which created more than 3,000 pieces of debris, adding significantly to the congested space environment.
However, to challenge U.S strength in this fourth arena of warfare would not be easy. U.S. companies and government agencies have at least 500 satellites — roughly as many as the rest of the world combined. At least 100 of them are primarily military in nature. Most are for communication or surveillance. In other words, they’re oriented downward, toward Earth. Today, the United States has dozens of Aegis-equipped warships carrying hundreds of SM-3 missiles, more than enough to quickly wipe out the approximately 50 satellites apiece that Russia and China keep in low orbit.
This growing competition has profound and lasting impacts on new-age warfare. With the weaponization of space, star wars are no more just fiction but are an imminent possibility. In order to analyze the impacts of the militarization of space, it is pertinent to dissect the issue in strategic, political, and economic domains. The strategic domain being the most relevant has undergone deep refurbishing due to the addition of this fourth arena in current warfare. Space-based capabilities like GPS, communications, and reconnaissance satellites are inevitable for militaries of the 21st century. Militaries on the ground depend on these satellites positioned in space to carry out their operations. So, to hold and maintain a sizeable influence in the space arena is inevitable to maintain military power on earth too.
Militarization of space has dragged the concept of balance of power to the fourth arena of warfare. Space capabilities are inextricably woven into the fabric of the security, scientific, and economic activities of modern-day states. Today, Space assets no longer just tell us where our enemies are and what they are doing; they are integrated with the weapon systems used to target and destroy. Now rival states have to keep an eye on the enemy’s space endeavors too, and being oblivious to this crucial area could later translate into an existential threat for them.
New strengths in space have also exposed new vulnerabilities. Now, states have to protect their satellites as it won’t just affect their dominance in space but also on the earth. Space weapons call for missile defense system technologies too, in case of any wars in space missile defense system technologies are crucial to protect and maintain a functioning space system. This would further aggravate the already soaring weapon race in space.
The Dual-use of satellites is another strategic threat to current warfare as most satellites have potential military applications besides the stated peaceful purpose. This calls for an ultra vigilant eye on the satellite system of the enemy.
Militarization of space has deep political impacts on current warfare too. As any mishandled conflict started in space could easily translate into a full-blown war on Earth. On the contrary, a mishandled political situation could lead to devastating chain reactions in the most volatile arena of space. Militarization of space would increase expenses based on threat perception rather than concrete intimidation. Rival states would try to outsmart each other in space to gain a tactical and strategic edge, which could lead to ungrounded and misguided political decisions. Moreover, politicians would have to convince the taxpayers to spend a huge amount of money on the weaponization of space with little short-term goals. It would be hard for politicians to convince the public of the lingering and potential threat of space wars.
In addition to political and strategic impacts militarization of space also has deep economic impacts on current warfare. The growing militarization of space would cajole major powers to spend even more on space programs. A report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states that the United States already spends on space programs – both civilian and defense-related – more than every other country combined.
In 2015, the US spent about $40 billion on its space program, while China’s space budget being the second largest in the world, was about $12 billion in 2015; the next, Russia’s, was roughly $8.6 billion; and India’s, the fourth largest, was about $4.3 billion. These budgets are expected to further bulge given the growing arms race in space. Thus, this increased space budget would have a direct impact on already amplified military expenses.
In order to ensure the use of space for peaceful purposes, the global community has to make concerted and well-organized efforts to halt and preferably roll back militarization of space. In order to achieve this coveted goal, there is a need for global consensus to lay down rules for un-ruled space as the existing and proposed legal instruments legitimize the weaponization of space. The existing outer Space Treaty 1967 is insignificant to halt the growing militarization of space as although this treaty banned the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space, it does not prevent states from placing other types of weapons in space.
To bridge this gap, Russia and China have proposed Preventing an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS), however, it is still under discussion, and the consensus is not yet reached. In order to reach a global consensus, rival states need to overcome the trust deficit. And to insure a successful and agreed treaty to govern outer space, United Nations should play a proactive role to bring states on a page.
Conclusion (along with) impacts for promising future prospects
In conclusion, it could be safely reiterated that militarization of space has significantly altered modern warfare and has stretcfhed warfare to the ultimate strategic high ground of space. Now major powers are competing for enhanced and significant dominance in space to maintain their military might on earth too. This mounting militarization of space has cast adverse effects on the strategic, political and economic arena of 21st-century warfare.
It has significantly altered the space from a pristine place of peace to a volatile court of competition. The world community has to join hands to reach a global consensus on the peaceful use of space to ensure unabated development in science and technology. The world community has to move from competition to cooperation in space to pass on an uncontested space to our next generations.
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