Outer Space and Global Security

Tasneem Jamal

A seminar convened by: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research; Simons Centre for Peace and Disarmament Studies; Project Ploughshares Canada; and The Simons Foundation

26-27 November 2002 — Room V — Palais des Nations, Geneva

Table of Contents

Militarization, Weaponization, and Space Sanctuary: Past Dialogues, Current Discourse, Important Distinctions
Bruce DeBlois, United States Council on Foreign Relations  

The Current and Future Military/Security Uses of Space
Lt. Col. Peter Hays, USAF 

The Current International Legal Regime Governing the Use of Outer Space
Jonathan Dean, Union of Concerned Scientists  

Space Security: Options and Approaches
Rebecca Johnson, Simons Centre for Peace and Disarmament Studies 

Remarks from the Geneva Meeting on Outer Space and Global Security
James Clay Moltz, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies



Tuesday November 26
09:30-10:00     arrival and coffee


Jennifer Simons, Simons Centre for Peace and Disarmament Studies
Ambassador Christopher Westdal, Permanent Representative of Canada

             Session 1


Chair: Jennifer Allen Simons, Simons Centre for Peace and Disarmament Studies

Militarization, Weaponization, and Space Sanctuary: Past Dialogues, Current Discourse, Important Distinctions
Bruce DeBlois, United States Council on Foreign Relations

10:40                Session 2


Chair: Rebecca Johnson, Simons Centre for Peace and Disarmament Studies

Civilian Uses of Space
Alain Dupas, Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines

Satellite Vulnerabilities: Threats to the Commercial Use of Space
Atef Sherif, National Authority for Remote Sensing, Ministry of Scientific Research, Egypt


Nontombi Mukpula, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of South Africa
Ambassador Kuniko Inoguchi, Permanent Mission of Japan
13:00-15:00      Lunch hosted by The Simons Foundation

Ambassador Kuniko Inoguchi, Permanent Mission of Japan
Introduction: Jennifer Allen Simons, The Simons Foundation

Keynote address International Astronaut Training and Spaceflight
Col. Chris Hadfield, Canadian Space Agency and NASA Director of Operations in Star City, Russia
15:00-16:20     Session 3


Chair: Sarah Estabrooks, Project Ploughshares

The Current and Future Military/Security Uses of Space
Lt. Col. Peter Hays, USAF

Basing Weapons in Space: Technical and Political Considerations
Phillip Baines, Non-Proliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament Division,
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada

Political Aspects of the Possible Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space
Andrei Vinnik Department of Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia

16:20-16:40     tea/coffee break

16:40-18:00     Session 4


Chair: Ernie Regehr, Project Ploughshares 

Five-minute interventions followed by open discussion

18:00-20:00     Reception hosted by Ambassador Christopher Westdal, Permanent Representative of Canada
Canadian Mission, 5 ave. de l’Ariana

Wednesday November 27

9:30-10:00       arrival and coffee

10:00-12:30     Session 5


Chair: Patricia Lewis, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research

The Current International Legal Regime Governing the Use of Outer Space
Jonathan Dean, Union of Concerned Scientists

Space Security: Options and Approaches
Rebecca Johnson, Simons Centre for Peace and Disarmament Studies


James Clay Moltz, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies 
Li Song, Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, People’s Republic of China

12:30-13:00     CLOSING



Facilitator: Rebecca Johnson,

Simons Centre for Peace and Disarmament

15:00-16:30 – Salle V – Palais des Nations




Secretariat of the Conference
Nicolas GÉRARD
Room A.517
Palais des Nations
Tel. 022 917 11 49
Militarization, Weaponization and Space Sanctuary: Past Dialogues, Current Discourse, Important Distinctions
Bruce M. DeBlois 
United States Council on Foreign Relations

Disclaimer: this is just one American’s perspective, and does not represent any consensus nor any U.S. government position.

I can’t tell you how humbled I am to be addressing this audience.  I very much applaud the many of you who have dedicated the better part of your life to working these tough international issues in your efforts to secure global stability and peace, and particularly on this day, I’d like to thank our hosts

  • the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research,
  • Simons Center for Peace and Disarmament Studies, 
  •  Project Ploughshares Canada, and
  • The Simons Foundation

While I don’t pretend to fully understand the many related international disarmament issues, I do understand the state of discussions on space weaponization. Continued discussion is paramount – but many ask, when is formal negotiation appropriate?   As Ms Rebecca Johnson of the Acronym Institute adeptly put it last week in her address at the Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference, we must first build the conditions for negotiations – and at this stage, those conditions simply do not exist.

I would add, though, that it’s incumbent upon us all to mature the understanding – and to not delay discussion, because continued inaction on this issue will in all probability lead us to a future that none of us would elect. 

The issue of space security, and pointedly, the potential of weapons migrating to space, is an important international concern – and needs to be addressed openly, as will be done at this conference over the course of the next 2 days.  We also need to work hard to keep the issue from being clouded ….

Polarizing the issue as proponents of weapons and war, opposing those who favor international peace, incites emotional response and misdirects attention away from the real issue:  that is, what is the best approach toward international security in space? Or, more specifically,

Can we – as a community of responsible nations – reasonably expect to form a secure international environment on the frontiers of space, without weapons available to those who would seek to secure that environment?

Within these discussions, I hope that we do creatively look at the largely unexplored middle ground – away from the poles of a complete ban on the one hand, and no negotiated guidelines on the other. 

Will we consider as possibilities…

  • Muti-lateral, collaborative efforts in place of Unilateral action at one extreme, or a complete Multi-lateral Ban at the other extreme…

Will we consider in the face of immediate threats …

  • Temporary military uses of space, that are to be withdrawn once those threats subside, as opposed to the extreme of permanently orbiting weapons, or the other extreme that offers no flexibility to respond in the face of immediate danger

And will we consider opening confidence-building discussions in areas where we are likely to agree to some extent at the outset, establishing “rules of the road” that address

  • space debris,
  • launch notifications,
  • verification approaches, or
  • commercially-crowded orbits.

A principle of effective discussion is to seek common grounds first.  I am suggesting that path, before we take on the more difficult issues surrounding national military uses of space, and in particular, space weapons.  BUT – we also must not lose sight of the ultimate goal, as it will be a far-reaching decision, IF we have the wisdom, patience, and perseverance to address it.  That is, what of space weapons?

To be clear on what is meant by space “weaponization,”……….. the current state of affairs reflects that space is currently militarized – but not weaponized.  Globally, we are postured with communications and intelligence gathering capabilities that offer the possibility of everyone watching everyone – nurturing global stability.  These capabilities are used in military force enhancement roles and are accurately referred to as “space militarization,” but few would argue that these force enhancement capabilities constitute “space weapons”.  There may be latent terrestrial-to-space capable systems such as Airborne Lasers, but they are not dedicated ASAT systems, nor has their use as “space weapons” been exercised to any great extent. In fact, both Russia and the United States have opted in favor of restraint on ASAT deployment. So in these terms, the issue becomes clear: Given that space is currently militarized – but not weaponized…..     should we allow space weaponization (either explicitly by collaborative and coordinated action, or implicitly by inaction)?

At this juncture, I would simply like to frame the debate, by making several propositions, and several counter-propositions, as to the advent of space weapons.  I will not attempt to support or attack these here, but I contend that they are credible, they are supportable, and they are at odds with each other – hence the debate.
Proposition 1, Social and Economic Interests:

Civil and commercial interests in space are rapidly outpacing military concerns and are becoming a central focus for many national economies.  As a service to the nation, the military role is typically to organize, train, equip, and posture forces – complete with weapons – to defend those interests.  Space weapons will necessarily follow space commerce – that is, they will “follow the money.”  
Proposition 2, Technological & Doctrinal Inertia:

Seizing the high ground is a military doctrinal precept as old as warfare itself.  As technology opens the new high ground of space and offers the means to exploit it, sound military doctrinal development would be grossly remiss to overlook it.  Simply put, the coupling of advanced technologies with well-intended and effective military doctrine development will inevitably lead to the acquisition of space weapons, particularly, in the absence of countervailing policy direction
Proposition 3, Diplomatic Leverage:

We have played this game before – and one need only look to the Sputnik era: the confluence of prestige, prowess, and leverage offered by space presence – a witness to the perceived superiority of a particular ideology – will compel a space race, to include the pursuit of military dominance by way of space weapons.
Proposition 4, Military Superiority:

The exercise of 21st Century military power is critically dependent upon communications and intelligence, much of which is collected from and/or passed through space systems.   The world witnessed the incredible advantage this supplied in the first “space war” Desert Storm.  Future adversaries will not allow such an advantage to go unchallenged, and it must be defended.

Additionally, the prospect of a secure homeland and space-based defense, combined with overwhelming offensive potential, represents the ultimate military high ground.  Any nation that achieves space weaponization will readily become a preeminent military power.
And finally, a Summary Proposition favoring the advent of space weapons, Historical Precedent:

As stated in the 4 Propositions, social and economic leverage, technological and military doctrinal inertia, prestige and prowess afforded on the international stage, as well as military superiority provided by weapons’ accession to the frontiers are the determining reasons for the historical precedent –

Where goes man, goes the clash of opposing wills, goes the instruments to effect that clash: weapons.   It was true of the territorial frontiers throughout history, true of the high seas in the Middle Ages, and true of the air realm in the twentieth century.   The same is destined to be true in space: the weaponization of space is inevitable.

International efforts to secure the frontiers of space need to accept this inevitability, and work toward measured and collaborative agreements to provide a stable space environment. 

Again, I am framing the debate, and I do not necessarily hold to these propositions – nor do I hold to the following counter-propositions:
Counter-Proposition 1, Appropriateness:

Whatever the space-posture, it must be Unity-enhancing, Justice-enabling, Tranquility-ensuring, Defense-providing, General Welfare-promoting, and Liberty-securing. These Constitutional precepts apply uniformly to individuals and nations. Quite apart from any perceived immediate benefit, a strong case can be made that space weapons are unity-negating, justice-inhibiting, tranquility-disrupting, defense-inhibiting, general welfare demoting, and liberty-constraining. As a community of responsible individuals and nations, a future of space weapons is inconsistent with basic human and national values.
Counter-Proposition 2, Military Non-sense:

The migration of weapons to space is likely to create more military problems for the host nation than it will solve.  From a military and national-security perspective alone, a space-weaponizing nation creates both

  • the powder-keg of global instability (where it has weakened its own international posture among allies and adversaries alike) and
  • it also creates the spark of regional instability (where it has made itself a target of pre-emption and escalation).

Coupled with this very unstable environment, that same space-weaponizing nation will damage its own military power by extending and exposing an already vulnerable military communications and intelligence-gathering center of gravity (that was previously protected under the open-skies environment). From the military and national security perspective alone, “nonsense” may be too weak a term; more to the point, for one nation to posture weapons in space to improve its defense posture is “counter-sense.”


Counter-Proposition 3, Exorbitant Costs:

$1 trillion – and that’s on the low side, assuming the world is not compelled into a space race. Additionally, opportunity costs go well beyond mere dollars — in the zero-sum game of government expenditures, costs must be measured in foregone investments in

  • other necessary military and defense acquisitions,
  • domestic investments in education, retirements, and health,
  • and international investments in relief efforts to save millions (and that’s people, not dollars)

True – national security is often an issue of life and death.  But to highlight the significance of domestic and international concerns, last year alone over 6 million people died of cancer world-wide, and the 2020 projection is 20 million deaths – yet our collective investment in research to combat this foe is less than 1% of defense spending.  This begs the question – what real wars are to be lost while we collectively expend billions on space weapons — weapons that in all probability will merely pacify our paranoid insecurities.


Counter-Proposition 4, Bad Precedent:

Should nations seek to move away from the precedent-based interpretation of international law that implicitly prohibits weapons in space, in favor of the literal interpretation that allows conventional weapons in space, it could pose an international precedent that would have grave consequences on the spirit of international cooperation recently built around suppressing aggression in the Middle East, and combating terrorism world-wide.  It would also jeopardize broad efforts to negotiate on international issues of the gravest of import, such as, WMD proliferation and arms control.  Principally, most nations favor the expansion of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 to address and explicitly prohibit weapons’ migration to space. 

And here, a Summary Counter-Proposition opposing the advent of space weapons, A Logical Appeal:


Based upon the four preceding Counter-Propositions, weaponizing space is

  • inappropriate (by almost any value-base), 
  •  military non-sense, as it is

 ineffective in light of countermeasures (expanding &   exposing a space CoG)

  • destabilizing locally (escalatory)
  • destabilizing globally (inflammatory & threatening)
  • militarily ineffective (at the expense of many better alternatives),

additionally, weaponizing space is

  • extremely costly (at costs that would cripple any national economy), and
  • politically unviable in a growing interdependent world of responsible nations.

It is evident that nations should simply chose to pursue avenues toward national and international objectives other than space weapons. 

Again, I do not adhere to these counter-propositions either…….  What I have attempted to accomplish is lay a foundation at the poles of this Space & Global Security issue:

  • Are space weapons inevitable?   Human nature seems to lead us there…and if so, should we not work now to create a stable international environment as they emerge? On the opposite pole…
  • Counter to the natural progression…  is ther a better – rational – choice that we must work now if we are to shape a future we would have?

To you, those actively working such efforts here in Geneva, I’d offer this closing… 


  • the Propositions that point to a “natural path” of weapons migration to space, with
  • the Counter-Propositions that call for an “unnatural” and collective rational choice to prohibit weaponization is a complex and difficult challenge.  A challenge that will require unprecedented levels of patient discussions — and concessions — in a context that includes many other equally important issues…

While you continue to honorably represent your country’s positions, values, and people… also remember that you have a greater obligation.  You are representing all future generations of this increasingly small planet… and in these brief moments – your opportunity to change history – remember that agreements made here will echo in eternity.  I implore each of you, to work your domestic politics and encourage support for selfless steps forward on the space weapons issue and the other critical issues addressed here in Geneva.  Do not allow one issue to become a stumbling block and prevent discussions on the many issues that must be addressed.

On the space weapons’ issue in particular, in a hundred years, will the historical account show man’s intentional but fumbling and ad hoc migration to space, or will it show a community of nations with a noble Vision, making a rational choice.  If the latter, it will take selfless concession, wise decision, and commitment and perseverance of action.

What I fear most is not what decision might come of this, but the path of indecision we seem to be on….  

Is it possible to get to such a decision? On that I’m reminded of a comment made by Henry Ford: “In the end, if we think we can, or if we think we can’t, we’re probably right.”

This is a breakpoint in human history, and you are squarely at the center of it.  From one person that appreciates the responsibility you’ve accepted, I’d like to say emphatically, THANK YOU and God’s speed.


Current and Future Military Uses of Space

Lt Col Peter L. Hays
Executive Editor, Joint Force Quarterly
National Defense University
Institute for National Strategic Studies

The opinions, conclusions, and recommendations expressed or implied in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, Department of Defense, or United States Government.

What is Spacepower?

“Spacepower” is literally a cosmic concept that is complex, indeterminate, and intangible. It is pregnant with a range of possibilities but it means so many different things to different people and groups that the concept is fraught with ambiguity. Confusion swirls on the semantic level because there is no commonly accepted definition or accepted wording for this concept.[i] There is not even agreement on basic issues such as where the atmosphere ends and space begins.[ii] Yet, despite these weaknesses in the conceptual foundation for spacepower, a strong and widespread consensus has developed concerning the growing importance of space to global security. Indeed, this is a central theme in much recent literature such as the Space Commission Report, Barry D. Watts’ The Military Use of Space, Steven Lambakis’ On the Edge of Earth, Everett C. Dolman’s Astropolitik and Bob Preston’s Space Weapons: Earth Wars.[iii] In addition, spacepower has figured very prominently in several of the most recent Title X wargames conducted by the U.S. Army and Air Force.[iv]

This paper explores the emerging consensus on space’s growing importance but takes a wide-ranging perspective on the attributes that comprise spacepower, sees the elements of spacepower as interrelated and multidimensional, and emphasizes that the determinants of space’s strategic utility go beyond just international military competition. It first looks at ways to categorize spacepower such as space activity sectors, military space mission areas, and David Lupton’s four military space doctrines. It also examines a broad range of factors that shape our perceptions and use of space. Throughout, it argues that economic factors now shape spacepower in fundamental ways, primarily due to rapid growth in commercial space activities and the inherently dual-use nature of most space systems.

Ways to Categorize Spacepower

Space Activity Sectors. The attributes of spacepower are often described using four sectors of space activity: civil, commercial, military, and intelligence.[v] The Space Commission Report provides an outstanding, current, and comprehensive overview of the types of activities that are contained in each sector and how they contribute to national security:

Civil Space Sector. The civil space sector is approaching a long-standing goal of a permanent manned presence in space with the deployment of astronauts to the International Space Station. The U.S. has shouldered the largest share of development and funding for this effort. Because it is an international program, however, its benefits for scientific research, experimentation and commercial processes will be widely shared. The number of countries able to participate in manned space flight has grown substantially. In addition to the U.S. and the USSR (now the Russian Federation), 21 other countries have sent astronauts into orbit in U.S. and Russian spacecraft. The People’s Republic of China has announced its intention to become the third nation to place human beings in orbit and return them safely to earth. Other research and experiments in the civil sector have many applications to human activity. For example, civil space missions to understand the effects of the sun on the earth, other planets and the space between them, such as those conducted by the Solar Terrestrial Probe missions, will help in the development of more advanced means to predict weather on earth.


Commercial Space Sector. Unlike the earlier space era, in which governments drove activity in space, in this new era certain space applications, such as communications, are being driven by the commercial sector. An international space industry has developed, with revenues exceeding $80 billion in 2000. Industry forecasts project revenues will more than triple in the next decade. Whereas satellite system manufacturing once defined the market, the growth of the space industry today, and its hallmark in the future, will be space-based services. The space industry is marked by stiff competition among commercial firms to secure orbital locations for satellites and to secure the use of radio frequencies to exploit a global market for goods and services provided by those satellites. International consortia are pursuing many space enterprises, so ascertaining the national identity of a firm is increasingly complex. The calculations of financial investors in the industry and consumer buying habits are dominated by time to market, cost and price, quantity and quality. It is a volatile market.

Nevertheless, as a result of the competition in goods and services, new applications for space-based systems continue to be developed, the use of those products is increasing and their market value is growing. Space-based technology is revolutionizing major aspects of commercial and social activity and will continue to do so as the capacity and capabilities of satellites increase through emerging technologies. Space enters homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and government offices through its applications for transportation, health, the environment, telecommunications, education, commerce, agriculture and energy.

Space-based technologies and services permit people to communicate, companies to do business, civic groups to serve the public and scientists to conduct research. Much like highways and airways, water lines and electric grids, services supplied from space are already an important part of the U.S. and global infrastructures. The most telling feature of the new space age is that the commercial revolution in space has eliminated the exclusive control of space once enjoyed by national defense, intelligence and government agencies. For only a few thousand dollars, a customer today can purchase a photograph of an area on earth equal in quality to those formerly available only to the superpowers during the Cold War. Commercial providers can complement the photographic images with data that identify the location and type of foliage in an area and provide evidence of recent activity there. They can produce radar-generated maps with terrain elevations, transmit this information around the globe and combine all of it into formats most useful to the customer. This service is of increasing value to farmers and ranchers, fisherman and miners, city planners and scientists.

Defense Space Sector. Space-related capabilities help national leaders to implement American foreign policy and, when necessary, to use military power in ways never before possible. Today, information gathered from and transmitted through space is an integral component of American military strategy and operations. Space-based capabilities enable military forces to be warned of missile attacks, to communicate instantaneously, to obtain near real-time information that can be transmitted rapidly from satellite to attack platform, to navigate to a conflict area while avoiding hostile defenses along the way, and to identify and strike targets from air, land or sea with precise and devastating effect. This permits U.S. leaders to manage even distant crises with fewer forces because those forces can respond quickly and operate effectively over longer ranges. Because of space capabilities, the U.S. is better able to sustain and extend deterrence to its allies and friends in our highly complex international environment. Space is not simply a place from which information is acquired and transmitted or through which objects pass. It is a medium much the same as air, land or sea. In the coming period, the U.S. will conduct operations to, from, in and through space in support of its national interests both on earth and in space. As with national capabilities in the air, on land and at sea, the U.S. must have the capabilities to defend its space assets against hostile acts and to negate the hostile use of space against U.S. interests.

Intelligence Space Sector. Intelligence collected from space remains essential to the mission of the Intelligence Community, as it has been since the early 1960s. Then the need to gain access to a hostile, denied area, the USSR, drove the development of space-based intelligence collection. The need for access to denied areas persists. In addition, the U.S. Intelligence Community is required to collect information on a wide variety of subjects in support of U.S. global security policy. The Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense deploy satellites to provide global communications capabilities; verify treaties through “national technical means”; conduct photoreconnaissance; collect mapping, charting, geodetic, scientific and environmental data; and gather information on natural or man-made disasters. The U.S. also collects signals intelligence and measurement and signature intelligence from space. This intelligence is essential to the formulation of foreign and defense policies, the capacity of the President to manage crises and conflicts, the conduct of military operations and the development of military capabilities to assure the attainment of U.S. objectives.[vi]

Military Space Mission Areas. Another important typology for describing spacepower was first adopted by the U.S. military in the 1980s and still provides a foundational and consistent framework to categorize the military missions that contribute to spacepower.[vii] Under this typology, Space Support is a very broad category that contains all activities that enable military space mission accomplishment. Space support includes the development and acquisition of all military space hardware and software; all the infrastructure required to launch, track, and command military space systems; and all the personnel and the education and training systems required to sustain military space activities. Force Enhancement is the primary emphasis of today’s military space forces. This mission refers to all military space activities that help to increase the warfighting effectiveness of terrestrial forces and is sometimes referred to as “space support to the warfighter.” Table 1 lists current and near-term space systems most closely associated with six force enhancement missions. There is widespread consensus on the elements that constitute these two military space mission areas and general agreement that the United States should perform these types of missions from space.


Table 1:  Force Enhancement Mission Areas, Primary Orbits,

and Associated Space Systems[viii]


    Geodesy Environmental Monitoring Communications Position, Velocity, Time, and Navigation Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
   Orbit (LEO)
Polar LEO Geostationary Orbit (GSO) Semi-synchronous Orbit GSO and LEO Various
      Landsat Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP), National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) II, DSCS III, Ultra-High Frequency Follow-on (UFO), Milstar, Global Broadcast System (GBS), Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF), Wideband Gapfiller Satellite (WGS) Global Positioning System (GPS) Defense Support Program (DSP), GPS, Space-Based Infra-Red System (SBIRS) High and Low Legacy Systems, Future Imagery Architecture (FIA), Integrated Overhead Signals Intelligence Architecture (IOSA) 


By contrast, there is much less consensus on the types of functions that would be required for space control and force application or on the need for the U.S. military to perform such missions.  Space Control “operations provide freedom of action in space for friendly forces while, when directed, denying it to an adversary, and include the broad aspect of protection of US and US allied space systems and negation of adversary space systems.”[ix]  The use of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons is one commonly discussed space control mission, but a wide range of missions—including conventional or unconventional attacks on terrestrial telemetry, tracking, and controlling (TT&C) facilities—would also fall into the space control area.  The final category, Force Application “would consist of attacks against terrestrial-based targets carried out by military weapons systems operating in or through space.  The force application mission area includes ballistic missile defense and force projection.  Currently, there are no force application assets operating in space.”[x]  Most military space activities fit into one of these four categories and, of course, most of today’s military space activities are in the first two categories:  space support and force enhancement.

Lupton’s Four Military Space Doctrines. The four military space doctrines developed by David Lupton in On Space Warfare provide an important and comprehensive way to analyze the strategic rationale behind military space activities (they are summarized in Table 2 below).[xi] The sanctuary doctrine builds on President Dwight Eisenhower’s concepts of “open skies” and “space for peaceful purposes” by emphasizing that space systems are ideal for monitoring military activity, providing early warning to reduce the likelihood of surprise attack, and serving as National Technical Means of Verification (NTMV) to enable and enforce strategic arms control. The basic tenet of the sanctuary doctrine is that space surveillance systems make nuclear wars less likely. Sanctuary doctrine is closely linked to deterrence theory and the assumption that no meaningful defense against nuclear attack by ballistic missiles is possible. Sanctuary doctrine advocates believe that overflight and remote sensing enhance stability and that space must be kept a weapons-free zone to protect the critical contributions of space surveillance systems to global security. Survivability, Lupton’s second space doctrine, emphasizes broad utility for military space systems, not only at the strategic level emphasized in the sanctuary doctrine, but also at the tactical level of space support to the warfighter that has emerged as the most important force enhancement mission since the end of the Cold War. 

Table 2:  Attributes of Military Space Doctrines

  Primary Value and Functions of Military Space Forces Space System Characteristics and Employment Strategies Conflict Missions of Space Forces Appropriate Military Organization for Operations and Advocacy
Sanctuary ·          Enhance Strategic Stability·          Facilitate Arms Control ·          Limited Numbers·          Fragile Systems·          Vulnerable Orbits

·          Optimized for NTMV mission

·          Limited NRO
Survivability Above functions plus:·          Force Enhancement  ·          Distributed        Networks

·          Redundancy

·          Hardening

·          On-Orbit Spares

·          Crosslinks

·          Maneuver

·          Less Vulnerable Orbits

·          Stealth

·          Reconstitution Capability

·          Defense

·          Convoy

·          5Ds

·          Force Enhancement·          Degrade Gracefully  Major Command or Unified Command
Control ·          Control Space·          Significant Force Enhancement ·          Control Space·          Significant Force Enhancement·          Surveillance, Offensive, and Defensive Counterspace Unified Command or Space Force
High Ground Above functions plus:·          Decisive Impact on Terrestrial Conflict·          BMD Above functions plus:·          Decisive Space-to-Space and Space-to-Earth Force Application·          BMD Space Force


The survivability doctrine also differs from the sanctuary doctrine because it highlights space system vulnerabilities and questions whether space can be maintained as a sanctuary due to ongoing technological improvements in systems such as ASAT weapons. Lupton’s control doctrine is analogous to military thinking about sea or air control and asserts the need for control of space in order to apply spacepower most effectively. Thus, the control doctrine sees space as similar to other military environments and argues that both commercial activities and military requirements dictate the need for space surveillance, as well as offensive and defensive counterspace capabilities. Lupton’s final doctrine, high ground, argues that space is the dominant theater of military operations and is capable of affecting terrestrial conflict in decisive ways. As a primary example of such capability, the high-ground doctrine points to the potential of space-based BMD to overturn the dominance of offensive strategic nuclear forces.

Seapower and Airpower Analogies. Another direct and obvious set of factors shaping our perceptions of spacepower are the oft-invoked analogies between spacepower and seapower or airpower. There is, of course, a rich literature on seapower and airpower theory. Seminal theorists who developed important perspectives on military operations in these two mediums include: Alfred Thayer Mahan, Julian Corbett, Giulio Douhet, William “Billy” Mitchell, and John Warden.[xii] Some of the key concepts that these theorists developed or applied to the air and sea mediums are command of the sea, command of the air, sea lines of communication, common routes, choke points, harbor access, concentration and dispersal, and parallel attack. Several of these concepts have been appropriated directly into various strands of embryonic space theory; others have been modified slightly then applied. For example, Mahan and Corbett’s ideas about lines of communications, common routes, and choke points have been applied quite directly onto the space medium. Seapower and airpower concepts that have been modified to help provide starting points for thinking about spacepower include harbor access and access to space, and command of the sea or air and space control.[xiii] But, of course, to date no comprehensive spacepower theory has yet emerged that is worthy of claiming a place alongside the seminal seapower and airpower theories listed above.[xiv]

There are also many fundamental questions concerning the basic attributes of the space medium and how appropriate it is to analogize directly from seapower or airpower theory when attempting to build spacepower theory. Few concepts from seapower theory translate directly into airpower theory—why should we expect either seapower or airpower theory to apply directly for the distinct medium of space? Questions concerning the attributes of space and the proper way to build space doctrine are also at the heart of the disagreements between the Air Force and rest of the Department of Defense (DOD) over whether air and space should be treated as a seamless operational medium (defined as aerospace by the Air Force) or regarded as distinct air and space mediums (as seen by the rest of DOD).[xv]

many of the problems with the aerospace concept and the development of space-power theory and doctrine have already been thoughtfully addressed in this [Aerospace Power] journal over the years. Dennis Drew, Charles Friedenstein, and Kenneth Myers and John Tockston published three of the best analyses during the 1980s.[xvi] These interrelated articles build on Drew’s doctrine-tree model—the idea that doctrine should grow out of the soil of history, develop a sturdy trunk of fundamental doctrine, branch out into doctrine for specific environments, and only then attempt to sprout the organizational doctrine analogous to “leaves.” This approach provides a comprehensive way to examine the aerospace concept and the Air Force’s first official space doctrine, Air Force Manual (AFM) 1-6, Military Space Doctrine, released in 1982.[xvii] Friedenstein finds that “there is no doctrinal foundation for the term aerospace” (emphasis in original) and critiques the Air Force for attempting to produce “leaves on a nonexistent branch” because it had not developed environmental doctrine before issuing the organizational doctrine in AFM 1-6.[xviii] Myers and Tockston strongly critiqued the Air Force’s tendency to “force-fit” space doctrine into the mold of air doctrine and argued that the three major characteristics of space forces are in fact emplacement, pervasiveness, and timeliness.[xix]

Thus, despite several efforts to appropriate or adapt key concepts from seapower and airpower theory, we are currently still adrift without a comprehensive spacepower theory to guide us and would be wise to cast our nets more widely and beyond traditional national security considerations.

Does Spacepower Constitute a Revolution in Military Affairs?


As with virtually everything else associated with spacepower, there is a wide range of opinion on this question. In order to address this question, we must first engage the issue of revolutions in military affairs (RMAs) more generally. During the 1990s, discussion of RMAs became a cottage industry within strategic studies and defense policy analysis. Unfortunately, to this analyst at least, it is unclear whether this whole endeavor has generated more light than heat. Nonetheless, in order to continue we need some working definition of RMA and some sense of what constituted past RMA.

This paper adopts the definition of RMA advanced by Dr. Andrew Krepinevich and his Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). They define an RMA as a major discontinuity in military affairs.

They are brought about by changes in militarily relevant technologies, concepts of operation, methods of organization, and/or resources available, and are often associated with broader political, social, economic, and scientific revolutions. These periods of discontinuous change have historically advantaged the strategic/operational offense, and have provided a powerful impetus for change in the international system. They occur relatively abruptly—most typically over two-to-three decades. They render obsolete or subordinate existing means for conducting war.[xx]

CSBA makes the case that there have been “at least a dozen cases of revolutionary change in the conduct of war: Chariot, Iron Age Infantry, Macedonian, Stirrup, Artillery/Gunpowder, Napoleonic, Railroad, Rifle, Telegraph, Dreadnought/Submarine, Air Superiority/Armored Warfare, Naval Air Power, and Nuclear Weapons.”[xxi] Brief descriptions of the six most recent RMAs help to further clarify the concept:

The Napoleonic Revolution. During the last decade of the eighteenth century, a social and political revolution in France transformed war. The advent of universal conscription—the levée en masse—dramatically expanded the size of armies and increased their reconstitutability. Equally important, the new conscript armies—composed of literate citizen soldiers—had a fundamentally different relationship to the societies from which they were drawn. All-weather roads and a new form of military organization—the corps—transformed logistics, and mass column assaults and mobile artillery transformed tactics.

The Railroad, Rifle, and Telegraph Revolution. The commercial development of the railroad and telegraph and the military development of the breech-loading rifle between 1840 and 1870 revolutionized war on land. The railroad revolutionized logistics, the rifle transformed tactics, and the telegraph fundamentally changed strategic command and control. With the advent of the railroad and telegraph, time, i.e., speed of mobilization, became a critical measure of military effectiveness. The large-scale movements of armies made possible by the new industrial infrastructure also gave birth to a new level of war—the operational level. By often giving statesmen a better sense of the overall military situation than that possessed by senior commanders in the field, the telegraph also transformed civil-military relations.

The Dreadnought/Submarine Revolution. The advent of steam propulsion and metal construction in naval shipbuilding ushered in a period of near constant technological change during the last decades of the nineteenth century. The completion in 1906 of the H.M.S. Dreadnought—the world’s first all-big gun, turbine-driven battleship—provided existential evidence of another revolution in military affairs. With its uniform main armament—ten 12-inch guns—Dreadnought could outshoot any older warship. A principal impetus of the Dreadnought Revolution—the submarine—proved to be equally revolutionary. As a result of the increasing threat that these new weapons posed to battlefleets, the long-standing naval strategy of close blockades of enemy ports had to be abandoned. Even more important, the “hierarchy of power” in naval warfare, which had been established with the advent of the capital ship more than three centuries earlier, had been severely undermined

Armored Warfare/Air Superiority. The stunning victory of German forces over the French, British, Dutch, and Belgian armies in May-June 1940, marked another departure in land warfare. From then on, the unit of account in measuring any army’s strength would no longer be the number of soldiers it had under arms. While the development of armored warfare depended upon the maturation of the dominant technology—the tank—technology itself was not sufficient to effect the revolution. Several other developments—in supporting technologies (e.g., tank radios), organization (combined arms formations and supporting air arms), operational concepts (deep penetrations on narrow fronts and air superiority), and climate of command (mission-oriented tactics, or auftragstaktik)—were essential components of the transformation launched by the blitzkrieg.

Naval Air Power. World War II also saw a transformation of war at sea. With the advent of naval air power, fleets that formerly could not engage their enemy unless they were in visual range could now hurl blows at one another from distances of hundreds of miles. Moreover, whereas naval battle had previously been characterized by gunnery duels, destructive force could now be delivered in great pulses of power. As with armored warfare, the breakthroughs in carrier warfare depended upon a number of developments: modifying airplanes so that they were rugged enough to withstand the problems associated with landing and taking off at sea, developing techniques to manage space on a crowded deck, employing carriers in combined strike forces to attack land and sea targets, etc. By the autumn of 1943, when American building programs began to amass the sheer numbers of platforms required for sustained large-scale carrier operations, the transformation of war wrought by the ascendance of naval air power had become complete.

The Nuclear Revolution. The detonation of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki provided evidence of another military revolution. Far exceeding the prophesies of even the most zealous pre-war strategic bombing theorists, subsequent developments in intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear fusion brought the prospect of nearly instantaneous destruction of whole societies into the strategic calculus. As with previous revolutions, the advent of nuclear weapons saw the emergence of new warfighting doctrines and military organizations. In the minds of most strategists, however, the sole purpose of the new weapons had shifted from warfighting to deterrence.[xxii

The question, however, remains whether the military and strategic contributions of spacepower to date constitute an RMA. Some analysts make the case that spacepower’s contributions in the Gulf War (the first space war) already mark it out as an RMA. Others make the case that, regardless of its specific performance in any individual war, spacepower is the RMA.[xxiii] It is probably more useful, however, to view the current relationship between spacepower and RMAs in two primary ways: first, in terms of spacepower’s preeminent contributions that enable the global reconnaissance, precision strike RMA that first emerged in the Gulf War; and, second, in terms of spacepower’s autonomous but nascent potential for a space weaponization RMA.

Many systems combine into the system of systems that create the global reconnaissance, precision strike RMA that has more clearly emerged and become increasingly powerful over the course of the past decade. Some of the more important systems for this RMA include: modern communications, command, control, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems, stealth platforms, and precision weapons. Spacepower makes the single most comprehensive and important contribution to this RMA. Among other things, spacepower fuels this RMA with 24/7 global ISR, it binds it together with communications connectivity, and it enables precision strike via GPS. In many cases, space provides the best or even the only medium from which to make these enabling contributions. In sum, it is clear that spacepower has now moved well beyond merely enhancing terrestrial forces and has become the single most important contribution that enables the global reconnaissance, precision strike RMA.

Space weapons also hold the potential to revolutionize warfare in even more powerful and fundamental ways. They could operate from the lowest tactical level up through the grand strategic level, could provide nearly instantaneous and simultaneous global strikes, and might even minimize the power of offensive nuclear forces. Such systems would create an RMA at least as profound as the six cases of modern RMAs discussed above. The path to space weaponization, however, still contains many extremely difficult political, fiscal, and technical challenges. Moreover, before starting down the path to space weaponization, we must avoid the fallacy of the last move by anticipating that such powerful weapons will almost inevitably provoke countermeasures in the unending dialectic between offensive and defensive weapons. Cumulatively, the breadth and depth of the challenges for space weapons to overcome means that this RMA may not emerge for some time to come—despite all its potential. As emphasized in the Space Commission report, space weaponization is probably inevitable over the long run. How and when weaponization occurs is likely to be shaped more by political factors than by technological considerations.




Military space cooperation, like most space issues, is a complex and contentious issue area. Examining opportunities and challenges in military space cooperation may help to illuminate several of the most likely paths forward for future space activity and highlight the security implications of these developments.

Space Weaponization

At a fundamental level, virtually all issues of space strategy and military space cooperation are shaped by the spectrum of views on the utility of weaponizing space. Major questions include: whether space will be weaponized, how and when that might happen, which states and other actors might be most interested in leading or opposing weaponization, and how any of these space weaponization issues might best be controlled. At the political level, there is, of course, a broad spectrum of opinion on these issues but most of the major tenets in mainstream views on weaponizing space can usefully be grouped into four major camps: space hawks, inevitable weaponizers, militarization realists, and space doves.[xxiv]

Space Hawks. Adherents to this camp believe that space already is or holds the potential to become the dominant source of military power. Accordingly, they believe that the United States should move quickly and directly to develop and deploy space weapons in order to control and project power from this dominant theater of combat operations. According to Republican Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire, for example, concerted development of space weapons by the United States “will buy generations of security that all the ships, tanks, and airplanes in the world will not provide. . . . Without it, we will become vulnerable beyond our worst fears.”[xxv] In addition, space hawks often point to space-based ballistic missile defense (BMD) as a potentially decisive weapon capable of fundamentally reordering the strategic balance. Space hawks tend to oppose virtually all space-related arms control and are lukewarm at best on military space cooperation because of the potential of these activities to slow or derail rapid and direct space weaponization.

Inevitable Weaponizers. This group believes that space, like all other environments man has encountered, will eventually be weaponized. They differ from space hawks in two important ways: they are not convinced that space weaponization would be beneficial for U.S. or global security, and they are unsure that space will prove to be the decisive theater of combat operations. The Space Commission Report is a good example of this camp: “we know from history that every medium—air, land and sea—has seen conflict. Reality indicates that space will be no different. Given this virtual certainty, the United States must develop the means both to deter and to defend against hostile acts in and from space.”[xxvi] Inevitable weaponizers take a nuanced view of space arms control and cooperation. They generally support confidence- and security building measures (CSBMs) and other cooperative mechanisms designed to slow military competition and channel it in predictable ways. But they are less supportive of broad efforts to ban space weapons because they see them as futile or even dangerous due to their potential to lull the United States into complacency or otherwise cause it to be outmaneuvered by states that successfully circumvent space weaponization accords.

Militarization Realists. Members of this camp oppose space weaponization because they believe U.S. security interests are best served by the status quo in space. They believe that the United States has little to gain but much to lose by weaponizing space because it is both the leading user of space and, enabled by this space use, the dominant terrestrial military power. Militarization realists also believe that if the United States takes the lead in weaponizing space, it would become easier for other states to follow due to lower political and technological barriers. For these reasons, militarization realists believe that “fighting into space looks feasible and we should plan for the eventuality. Fighting in space shows little promise, while fighting from space looks impractical for the foreseeable future, with or without treaties” (emphasis in original).[xxvii] Militarization realists support space-related arms control and cooperation that precludes other states from weaponizing or even militarizing space. Most of them believe, however, that this support must be balanced against the increased attention that formalized arms control efforts could draw to America’s already formidable space-enabled force enhancement capabilities and the political, military, and arms control fallout this increased scrutiny might cause. Informal cooperation might be one of the best ways to circumvent this potential difficulty.

Space Doves. Finally, a wide range of organizations and viewpoints can be grouped together in the space dove camp because they all oppose space weaponization for a variety of reasons including moral, arms control, conflict resolution, stability, and ideology arguments. Most space doves also oppose any militarization of space beyond the limited missions they see as stabilizing—national technical means (NTM) of arms control verification, early warning, and hotline communications—because they see any military missions beyond these as the “slippery slope” to space weaponization. Most space doves emphasize how destabilizing most space militarization and all space weaponization would be. “Unlike the strategy for nuclear weapons, there exists no obvious strategy for employing space weapons that will enhance global stability. If the precedent of evading destabilizing situations is to continue—and that is compatible with a long history of US foreign policy—one ought to avoid space-based weapons.”[xxviii] They also highlight the deep roots of President Eisenhower’s “space for peaceful purposes” policy and argue that, especially in the post-Cold War era, there is no rationale for space weaponization that is strong enough to overturn the basic strategic logic America developed at the opening of the space age. Space doves support space arms control and cooperation more strongly than any other camp. Since they do not believe the United States (or other states) would reap strategic benefits from weaponizing space, they are not overly concerned about the numerous arms control challenges identified by the other camps. Moreover, like Paul Stares, most space doves would not support using two-track approaches to space arms control.[xxix]

These ingrained but fundamentally divergent perspectives on space weaponization, space’s strategic utility, and the role for space arms control are likely to make it quite difficult to craft cooperative approaches or even to establish a dialogue concerning the interrelationships between space and security. It is difficult to see a clear cooperative path forward for the United States or global space community. The Realist lens in global politics and Graham Allison’s rational actor (Model I) lens in domestic politics portend a rocky path forward.[xxx] Likewise, it is also difficult to see clear lines of military space cooperation through regimes or epistemic communities or by applying Allison’s Models II and III to the multiplicity of organizations and individuals that contribute to the pulling and hauling of governmental decision making within a pluralist democracy such as the United States. Clearly, it would be a formidable challenge to provide enough incentives and assemble coalitions capable of pushing forward any camp’s preferred vision for space competition or cooperation. Given this environment, it seems unlikely that the United States can or will provide strong or consistent leadership for military space cooperation. It is more likely that the United States would move forward in response to external space arms control initiatives or trigger events related to the weaponization of space.[xxxi]

On the technical side of the equation, space arms control and formalized cooperation designed to control the weaponization of space face all of the problems that plagued previous attempts to develop these control mechanisms. The most serious of these problems include: disagreements over the proper scope and object of negotiations; basic definitional issues about what is a space system and how they might be categorized as offensive or defensive and stabilizing or destabilizing; and questions concerning how any agreement might be adequately verified. These problems relate to a number of very thorny specific issues such as: whether the negotiations should be bilateral or multilateral and formal or informal; what satellites and other systems should be covered; whether the object should be control of space weapons or CSBMs for space; which types of CSBMs such as rules of the road or keep out zones, for example, might be most useful and how these might be reconciled with existing space law such as the Outer Space Treaty (OST); and verification problems such as how to address residual anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities or deal with the significant military potential of even a small number of covert ASAT systems.

New space system technologies, the growth of the commercial space sector, and new verification and transparency technologies interact with these existing problems in complex ways. Some of the changes would seem to favor arms control and cooperation, such as better radars and optical systems for improved space situation awareness and verification, technologies for better space system diagnostics, and the stabilizing potential of microsatellite-based distributed and robust space architectures. Many other trends, however, would seem to make space arms control and cooperation even more difficult. For example, stealthy microsatellites might be used as virtually undetectable active ASATs or passive space mines; the proliferation of space technology has radically increased the number of significant space actors, and these ranks now include a number of important nonstate actors; and growth in the commercial space sector raises issues such as how quasi-military systems should be protected or negated and the unclear security implications of emerging markets for dual-use systems. Cumulatively, just as with the political factors that animate the four space camps discussed above, it is hard to see many technical factors that would clearly advance space arms control and cooperation designed to control space weaponization.


Recent Space-Related Arms Control and Regulation Issues

With the end of the Cold War, many formal arms control efforts have been de-emphasized, and most space-related arms control efforts are no exception. There have been, nonetheless, some very important space-related provisions in recent treaties and agreements. Moreover, the recent growth in commercial space activity undoubtedly creates an opportunity if not a need for expanded regulation and control in this area. This section briefly reviews some of the most important recent developments.

START I and II. The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I is a bilateral treaty between the United States and Soviet Union designed to reduce the number of deployed strategic offensive arms (warheads and delivery vehicles) maintained by each.[xxxii] Several of the broad provisions in START I build on previous arms control treaties. For example, START I repeats the NTM provisions first contained in the ABMT but also relies on extensive OSI verification protocols to assure compliance.[xxxiii] In addition, START I strengthens the OST prohibition on the placement of weapons of mass destruction in outer space. Article V, Paragraph 18 of the Treaty prohibits each party from producing, testing, or deploying systems, including missiles, for placing nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction into earth orbit or a fraction of an earth orbit.[xxxiv] This is an important provision designed to ban fractional orbital bombardment systems such as the one successfully tested by the Soviet Union from 1965 to 1971.[xxxv]

START I has many new implications for military space operations as well. There are several restrictions on the use of ICBMs or submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) as space-launch boosters. For example, the treaty places restrictions on the number, type, and location of ICBMs and SLBMs used to boost objects into the upper atmosphere or space, and limits the number and location of space-launch facilities used to support such launches.[xxxvi] Objects launched by ICBMs or SLBMs into the upper atmosphere or space are also subject to the treaty’s telemetry requirements. In a major departure from past practice, the treaty requires the party conducting any peacetime launch of an ICBM or SLBM to make onboard technical measurements, broadcast all telemetric information obtained from such measurements in a way that allows full access to the information, and then provide a recording and analysis of that data to the other party. For objects delivered by ICBMs or SLBMs into the upper atmosphere or space, the telemetry provisions only apply until the object(s) being delivered either are in orbit or have achieved escape velocity.[xxxvii] Furthermore, advance launch notification must be made to the other treaty party whenever an ICBM or SLBM is used as a booster for delivering objects into the upper atmosphere or space. Such notification is provided in accordance with the provisions of START I and the Ballistic Missile Launch Notification Agreement.[xxxviii] START I might also affect ongoing space control and force application initiatives. For example, if the planned space operations vehicle was designed with a conventional strike capability, it might be held accountable under START I limitations on heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments other than long-range nuclear air-launched cruise missiles. No exhibition would be required, but the vehicle’s distinguishing features would be listed in the START memorandum of understanding. In addition, the facility where the vehicle is based would have to be declared as a heavy bomber base but would not be subject to inspection unless it contained a weapons storage area. A determination of treaty applicability, if any, would be subject to discussion between the parties.[xxxix]

The 1993 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II (START II) between the United States and Russia further reduces the number of deployed strategic offensive arms mandated by START I. All of the provisions of START I applicable to outer space described above also apply to START II. This treaty is not in force, and it currently appears to have been completely superceded by the more comprehensive strategic arms control agreement signed in Moscow by presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir V. Putin on 24 May 2002.[xl] Factors currently weighing against START II entering into force or even serving as the basis for further negotiations include: the level at which the “floor” for deployed strategic offensive arms should be set, the proper relationship between strategic offensive and strategic defensive force in President Bush’s “new strategic triad” and a world without the ABM Treaty, and the Bush administration’s seemingly limited enthusiasm for formal arms control.

Finally, in addition to the notifications required by the START Treaties and the Ballistic Missile Launch Notification Agreement, the United States and Russia have recently signed two new agreements expanding launch notifications to include all space launch vehicles. On 4 June 2000 at the Moscow Summit, President Clinton and Russian President Putin signed a memorandum of agreement to establish a joint data exchange center (JDEC) in Moscow to share early warning information on missile and space launches.[xli] Once the JDEC is completed and commences operations, the two countries are supposed to exchange information obtained from their respective ground- and space-based early warning systems on U.S. and Russian space launches (with rare exceptions) including time of launch, generic missile class, geographic area of the launch, and launch azimuth. Eventually this exchange of data will also include data sharing on detected space launches of other states. On 16 December 2000, US secretary of state Madeline K. Albright and Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a Pre- and Post-Launch Notification System (PLNS) for launches of ballistic missiles and, with rare exceptions, space launch vehicles, identifying launch window, time of launch, generic missile class, geographic area of the launch, and launch azimuth.[xlii] The PLNS Information Center will be an Internet-based system operated as part of the JDEC. Both agreements provide for the voluntary notification of satellites forced from orbit and certain space experiments that could adversely affect the operation of early warning radars, and both agreements leave open the possibility of negotiations on future data sharing on missiles that intercept objects not located on earth’s surface. The JDEC and PLNS are among the most detailed and comprehensive space-related CSBM ever negotiated. They are designed to enhance stability by limiting flexibility and clandestine operations. The wide spectrum of opinion on the utility of these latest agreements is another excellent illustration of how fundamental disagreements on military space strategy can color all subsequent analysis.[xliii]


High-Resolution Commercial Imagery and Deception. Digitized data streams designed to produce imagery are ideally suited for deception. This is because digitized data must always be mathematically processed to create images, and this processing is subject to manipulation in a variety of ways—many of which are not available for manipulating film images. As Steven Livingston explains:

Mathematically altering the value of the pixels alters seamlessly the representation. “Since it is purely a mathematically process, the source images can be altered fundamentally and undetectably before and/or during their production.” Elements can be added or subtracted, changed in color, brightness, or contrast. Changes are made not by altering the computer code that produces the image, and not in the image itself as in analog manipulation. In fact, it is more accurate perhaps to say that no image exists beyond the mathematical equations that create a particular array of pixels. The equations are the image. Therefore as computer processors become faster and more powerful, so too does the ability to alter digital information.[xliv]

The phrase “altered fundamentally and undetectably” is absolutely loaded with implications. For starters, it means that virtually anything can be added, subtracted, or changed in digital imagery (or to any digital information) and that even experts cannot necessarily detect these changes. The possibilities for deception through manipulating digital imagery are literally unlimited. Perhaps even more alarmingly, all of this can happen in real time as the data stream is converted into manipulated imagery. It is no wonder that the digital age creates a number of legal conundrums and that the veracity of digitized information is increasingly being questioned in courtrooms.[xlv] At the very least, as No More Secrets summarizes, “[c]ommercially available high-resolution satellite imagery will trigger the development of more robust denial and deception and antisatellite countermeasures.”[xlvi] Given this potential for deception, the USG and the news media should adopt a “dual phenomenology” requirement as a way to attempt to confirm the veracity of digitized imagery.

Control of High-Resolution Commercial Imagery. There are clearly a number of complex interdependencies that have and will continue to shape the global high-resolution commercial remote sensing market. The United States should continue to study and evaluate the evolution of this market to ensure that its policy objectives are being met. Regulatory mechanisms such as shutter control that the United States has put in place appear to provide an equitable balance between economic considerations and national security concerns. These mechanisms should also be self-regulating to a large degree. If the United States overuses shutter control, it may drive potential customers to foreign imagery providers; but such a control is required before the United States should create incentives for its high-resolution commercial remote sensing industry to dominate the global market. This area also offers the potential for novel means of control and exploitation. The requirement for imagery providers to use only USG approved encryption devices that allow USG access during periods of shutter control, especially when coupled with the potential to use digital data for deception, certainly presents some interesting possibilities for control and exploitation by leaving systems operating rather than shutting them off.

Finally, the United States should carefully and continuously re-evaluate whether the benefits that PDD-23 is designed to create such as greater transparency and market preeminence do, in practice, actually outweigh the costs such as the use of this data for nefarious ends. So far the United States has attempted to shape the world market via mostly economic benefits rather than security considerations. It should rebalance that equation toward national security, perhaps by formal arms control restrictions on high-resolution commercial remote sensing, if the benefits do not outweigh the costs. If it becomes prudent to move in this direction, there are a number of unilateral and multilateral regulation and control options that the United States could pursue.[xlvii]

In the latest developments in this area, during the campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan thus far, NIMA established a commercial “agreement of assured access” with the Space Imaging Corporation, reportedly for $1.9 million per month. Under the terms of this agreement, Space Imaging could not sell or share its Afghanistan theater imagery with anyone except the USG without NIMA approval until after 5 January 2002, and the contract can be extended beyond that date.[xlviii] This agreement opens many interesting issues related to the utility of limiting information dissemination for public diplomacy, the media, and exploitation of enemy information channels. It also raises the issue of whether this agreement using market mechanisms has set a precedent that might well make it more difficult to invoke formal shutter control in the future.

Global Utilities

Because of all the growth in space systems and the services they provide, some analysts believe they should now be considered in a new way as global utilities that provide an essential foundation that enables the global information infrastructure. In some ways, the concept of global utilities is just another recognition of how much the commercial space sector has grown and how important it has become; but it is also clear that the global information infrastructure as it currently exists simply could not function without space systems and the services they provide. This section attempts to define what global utilities are and then discusses arms control and regulatory mechanisms that might help to protect and enhance these essential services.

Global utilities have been defined as: “Civil, military, or commercial systems—some or all of which are based in space—that provide communication, environmental, position, image, location, timing, or other vital technical services or data to global users.”[xlix] To date, all space-based global utilities provide information services, but they are analogous to earth-bound utility services that provide a foundation for modern life such as water and electricity. And like these earth-bound utility services, space-based global utilities may be subject to regulation and control at the local, state, national, and international levels. Two relatively minor recent failures illustrate just how embedded global utilities have become in the global information infrastructure. In 1996, a controller at the Air Force GPS control center accidentally put the wrong time into just one of the 24 satellites, and this erroneous signal was broadcast for just six seconds before automatic systems turned the signal off. That momentary error caused more than 100 of the 800 cellular telephone networks on the US East Coast to shut down, and some took hours or even days to recover.[l] In May 1998, “40–45 million pager subscribers lost service; some ATM and credit card machines could not process transactions; news bureaus could not transmit information; and many areas lost television service—all because of the loss of one satellite” (emphasis in the original). [li] Clearly, space systems have become an increasingly important part of the global information infrastructure, but questions remain about how they should be regulated and protected.

How global utilities should be controlled and regulated is a complex issue that depends on a number of factors such as the specific systems in question, the services they provide, and the primary users. Communication satellites are already subject to significant control and regulation at the international level through the ITU and in the United States through the FCC. This high level of regulation for communication satellites is justified both because of the threat of harmful interference in the radio spectrum and due to the lucrative nature of these services. Other areas within the commercial space sector that have yet to demonstrate much profitability such as high-resolution remote sensing are also subject to regulation and control, but it is generally at a lower level. The United States provides other global utility services such as meteorological data and GPS timing signals free to all users worldwide as a public good. Given the current range of existing regulation and control for global utility services, it is not clear what national security or economic objectives would be served by attempting to regulate these services in the same or even similar ways.

In addition, the United States should consider how global utilities might best be protected and fostered as an enabling technology within the global information infrastructure. Unfortunately, no clear or easy answers stand out, and there is a wide range of views on the best path forward. Despite the many threats detailed above, to date there has been almost “no demand from the operators of commercial communications satellites for defense of their multibillion dollar assets.”[lii] The current lack of support from industry for protection of global utilities is particularly disappointing to USSPACECOM because during the late 1990s, they had attempted to advance the argument that such protection was needed and would be demanded as space commercialization grew.[liii] Some analysts believe that a multilateral approach to protection for global utilities would be best and argue that this function should be performed by an international organization such as the UN. This approach would likely, however, be filled with all the political, economic, and technical difficulties that have plagued almost all international space efforts. The rocky path of the International Space Station certainly does not inspire confidence in this approach to providing protection for global utilities. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who advocate that the U.S. military, and the Air Force in particular, should take on the global utility protection mission regardless of international opposition or a lack of support from industry. On top of the political opposition to this approach, creating a viable defense for global utilities also faces daunting economic and especially technical challenges such as those posed by a high-altitude nuclear detonation. Based on the technologies currently being examined, only a robust space-based system would stand much chance of providing an effective defense against the most threatening attacks on global utilities.[liv]

Spectrum Crowding, Orbital Debris, and Space Traffic Control

The final contentious area examined in this paper is related to the cumulative effects of greater use of space. Current and projected use of space is creating challenges particularly in the areas of crowding of the radio spectrum for space, orbital debris, and the possible need for space traffic control. This section discusses these issues and outlines some potential control and regulation mechanism that might help to address them.

Recent growth in commercial space activity has exacerbated crowding of the radio spectrum for space applications and there are currently significant pressures on portions of the spectrum now allocated to military uses. In particular, today there is a great deal of pressure to move DOD out of the 1755 to 1850 MHz band in order to auction it off for third generation communications applications. It is not clear, however, that U.S. national security or even economic interests would benefit from moving DOD out of this band. As the General Accounting Office report on this issue makes clear, more study is required, and, in particular, the issue must be carefully reconsidered in light of the radically reduced bandwidth requirements that will undoubtedly accompany the economic recession the global economy seems to be entering. More generally, the increasing pressure on the radio spectrum due to more commercial use of space has been somewhat balanced by the use of new technologies and different orbits that lessen the effects of increased use. For example, modern satellites in GSO have only two degrees of spacing between them (versus three or more degrees in the past) for most systems providing fixed satellite services. Likewise, increasing use of non-GSO communication satellite networks may decrease the pressure on overcrowding the GSO in terms of spectrum and spacing. In sum, then, current trends for the space radio spectrum do not augur major changes in the current regulatory structure. Moving the ITU to auctions for its coordination/registration process would undoubtedly produce greater efficiency and generate income, but these benefits would need to be weighed against the equal access concerns of the developing world and fact that there currently seems to be little support for moving in this direction.

Orbital debris may represent the single, most potentially useful window of opportunity for cooperative space arms control and regulation for the United States and the global spacefaring community through 2015.[lv] NASA defines “orbital debris” as “any man-made object in orbit about the Earth which no longer serves a useful purpose.”[lvi] Human space activity has generated a lot of debris: there are over 9,000 objects larger than 10 centimeters (cm) and an estimated 100,000-plus objects between one and 10 cm in size.[lvii] The largest single source of this debris has been intentional and unintentional satellite explosions on orbit.[lviii] Orbital debris generally moves at very high speeds relative to operational satellites and thereby poses a risk to these systems due to its enormous kinetic energy.[lix] Only three collisions between operational systems and orbital debris are known to have occurred thus far, but concerns about this hazard are growing due to the increasing number of operational space systems and the five percent growth rate in LEO orbital debris each year.[lx] There is even concern about the potential for orbital debris “chain reactions” due to collisions in big-LEO communication satellite constellations or due to the debris clouds that could be created by use of kinetic energy ASATs in LEO.

Since the 1980s, the United States has led the world in publicizing the risks due to orbital debris and it has made programs to mitigate debris an increasingly important part of its overall space policy.[lxi] There is, however, undoubtedly more the United States could do on the orbital debris front. The United States should explore several options such as unilaterally pledging not to create space debris through testing or operations of any ASAT system, creating strict unilateral regulations that mandate debris mitigation for U.S. commercial space operators (perhaps as part of a “spaceworthiness license”), multilateral efforts to “clean up” debris using lasers and other techniques, and creating strict multilateral regulations for debris mitigation. These and other creative approaches should be explored vigorously in order to ensure that man’s increasing use of space does not impose unacceptable risks on this activity.

Finally, due again to the increasing use of space, the United States must consider the need for and implications of space traffic control systems (STCS) that could be analogous to current air traffic control systems. The idea for such a system is obviously related to the orbital debris problem discussed above, but it goes well beyond just this problem to include a wide range of factors such as: how space traffic might coordinate and be approved for specific orbital positions, how space traffic would be located and tracked, sanctions and liability for noncompliance and collisions under an STCS, and how such a regime might be established and funded. As with many space-related issues, the technology to at least begin implementing such a system appears to be closer at hand than is the political will to begin down this path. For example, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization’s Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) satellite launched in April 1996 is the only operational space-based surveillance instrument. It has found some “150 objects in the last three years that were completely lost” and demonstrated the potential value of space-based sensors to an STCS.[lxii] Likewise, GPS positioning signals could be used to very accurately locate many space systems and a transponder-like system aboard space systems could automatically provide this data in response to queries from the STCS.[lxiii] On the political side of the equation, however, the United States must consider very carefully how its objectives in space might benefit or be harmed via the creation and operation of an STCS. It is not obvious that an air traffic control model is the appropriate regime for space, or that the political and financial costs of creating and operating such a system (many of which would likely be borne by the United States) would be outweighed by its benefits. Most of the benefits would seem to be in the commercial and civil space sectors while the potential drawbacks might be most severe for the military and intelligence sectors. The United States most likely would not, for example, want the ephemeris on its military and intelligence-gathering satellites to be preapproved and available worldwide through an STCS. At the very least, since an STCS could be such a powerful tool for denial, deception, and even targeting, the United States must think through very carefully exactly what type of control regime would be most appropriate for space and how such a regime would operate in practice.



[i]This paper uses spacepower as one word; it is also commonly expressed as two words. Air Force Chief of Staff Thomas D. White first used the word aerospace in 1958, and the concept that air and space form a seamless operational medium has been the foundational component of Air Force thinking about space ever since. Unfortunately, however, the Air Force is primarily talking to itself by using this word in this way because none of the other Services or DOD offices use the word aerospace according to the Air Force’s definition. Aerospace, for example, is only used as an adjective describing industry in the Space Commission Report and the word does not even appear in the DOD’s current space policy statement (Department of Defense Directive 3100.10, Space Policy, 9 July 1999).

[ii]Prior to the opening of the space age, the United States, in particular, was very reluctant to define where space begins. The Eisenhower Administration’s highest priority space policy was expressed in NSC-5520 of May 1955. This policy was designed to distinguish between aerial and satellite overflight and to established the legitimacy and legality of the latter. It called for using the civilian face of the United States’ International Geophysical Year scientific satellite program as a “stalking horse” to establish the precedent of legal overflight in order to open up the closed Soviet state to photoreconnaissance via the secret WS-117L spy satellite system. The term stalking horse is taken from R. Cargill Hall’s “Origins of U.S. Space Policy: Eisenhower, Open Skies, and Freedom of Space,” in Exploring the Unknown: Selected Documents in the History of the U.S. Civil Space Program, ed. John M. Logsdon, vol. 1, Organizing for Exploration (Washington, D.C.: NASA History Office, 1995), 213–29. The United States has not subsequently revisited the issue of where space begins in light of the changed geopolitical context and declassification of satellite reconnaissance. By using unclassified sources, primarily at the Eisenhower Library, Walter A. McDougall was the first to break through the veil of secrecy surrounding early U.S. space policy in . . .the Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age (New York: Basic Books, 1985). His book won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1986.

[iii]Barry D. Watts, The Military Use of Space: A Diagnostic Assessment (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, February 2001); Steven Lambakis, On the Edge of Earth: The Future of American Space Power (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001; Everett C. Dolman, Astropolitik: Classic Geopolitics in the Space Age (London: Frank Cass, 2002); and Robert Preston, et al., Space Weapons: Earth Wars (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2002).

[iv]Military use of commercial satellites was a major issue in the 1998 Army After Next wargame and space weaponization, deterrence and preemption, and space-to-Earth force application were all critical parts of the Air Force’s Schriever 2001 and Future Concepts 2001 wargames. See, for example, “Air Force gains insights from first space wargame,” Air Force News Archive, available from http://www.af.news/Jan2001/n20010129_0124.shtml.

[v]Many U.S. Government documents list three rather than four space sectors. Upon closer examination, however, these documents reveal the important contributions of each of the four sectors discussed above. For example, the most recent National Space Policy discusses civil, national security (defense and intelligence), and commercial sectors. National Science and Technology Council, “Fact Sheet: National Space Policy” (Washington, D.C.: The White House, 19 September 1996). The term “space sectors” was first used as an organizing typology in President Jimmy Carter’s 1978 National Space Policy. National Security Council, “Presidential Directive/NSC-37: National Space Policy” (Washington, D.C.: The White House, 11 May 1978).

[vi]Space Commission Report, 10-14.

[vii]This section and the next are adapted from Peter L. Hays, James M. Smith Alan R. Van Tassel, and Guy M. Walsh, eds., Spacepower for a New Millennium: Space and U.S. National Security (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000), 3-6.

[viii]Satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) fly in the region from less than 100 miles to several hundred miles altitude and complete each orbit in approximately 90 minutes. Polar LEO is ideal for many spysat and weather applications because from this orbit satellites can look down on all parts of the Earth several times each day as the Earth rotates beneath and they also can be aligned in Sun Synchronous Orbits that arrive overhead the same location at the same time each day. Satellites in Semi-Synchronous Orbit are located at approximately 12,500 miles altitude and complete an orbit every 12 hours. Geostationary Orbit (GSO) is located approximately 22,300 miles above the equator, a location where the satellites’ orbital velocity matches Earth’s rate of rotation and the satellite appears to remain motionless above the same spot—a very valuable attribute for communications satellites. NPOESS is a system that is currently being jointly developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and DOD that will merge their separate meteorological satellite systems into one system scheduled for its first launch in 2005. The AEHF program is developing the successor to the Milstar system and currently plans its first launch in 2006. The WGS is scheduled to launch a satellite in 2004. It is designed to bridge the gap between the current DSCS and GBS systems and a future advanced wideband system. For more information, see the Air Force Association’s “Major Military Satellite Systems” webpage at http://www.afa.org/magazine/space/satellite_systems.html.

[ix]Joint Doctrine for Space Operations, (Joint Publication 3-14), (Washington, D.C.: The Joint Staff, 9 August 2002). IV-5. JP-14 (pages IV-6 through IV-8) describes space control as follows:

b. Missions. Space control operations include surveillance of space, protection, prevention, and negation functions. These operations change in nature and intensity as the type of military operations changes. Prevention efforts can range from deterrence or diplomacy to military action. If prevention efforts fail, protection and negation functions may be performed to achieve space superiority. Negation focuses on denying an adversary’s effective use of space. Prevention, protection, and negation efforts all rely on the ongoing surveillance of space and Earth to make informed decisions and to evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts.

• Surveillance of Space. Situational awareness is fundamental to the ability to conduct the space control mission. It requires: robust space surveillance for continual awareness of orbiting objects; real-time search and targeting-quality information; threat detection, identification, and location; predictive intelligence analysis of foreign space capability and intent in a geopolitical context; and a global reporting capability for friendly space systems. Space surveillance is conducted to detect, identify, assess, and track space objects and events to support space operations. Space surveillance is also critical to space support operations, such as placing satellites in orbit. Further, space situational awareness data can be used to support terrestrially-based operations, such as reconnaissance avoidance and missile defense.

Protection. Active and passive defensive measures ensure that US and friendly space systems perform as designed by overcoming an adversary’s attempts to negate friendly exploitation of space or minimize adverse effects if negation is attempted. Such measures also provide some protection from space environmental factors. Protection measures must be consistent with the criticality of the mission’s contribution to the warfighter and are applied to each component of the space system, including launch, to ensure that no weak link exists. Means of protection include, but are not limited to, ground facility protection (security; covert facilities; camouflage, concealment, and deception; mobility), alternate nodes, spare satellites, link encryption, increased signal strength, adaptable waveforms, satellite radiation hardening and space debris protection measures. Furthermore, the system of protection measures should provide unambiguous indications of whether a satellite was under attack or in a severe space weather environment when any satellite anomaly or failure occurs. Finally, attack indications could be so subtle or dispersed that individually, an attack is not detectable. At a minimum, a common fusion point for possible indications from all USG satellites should be provided to allow centralized analysis.

• Prevention. Measures to preclude an adversary’s hostile use of US or third party space systems and services. Prevention can include military, diplomatic, political, and economic measures as appropriate.

• Negation. Measures to deceive, disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy an adversary’s space capabilities. Negation can include action against the ground, link, or space segments of an adversary’s space system.

•• Deception. Measures designed to mislead the adversary by manipulation, distortion, or falsification of evidence to induce the adversary to react in a manner prejudicial to their interests.

•• Disruption. Temporary impairment (diminished value or strength) of the utility of space systems, usually without physical damage to the space system. These operations include the delaying of critical, perishable operational data to an adversary.

•• Denial. Temporary elimination (total removal) of the utility of an adversary’s space systems, usually without physical damage. This objective can be accomplished by such measures as interrupting electrical power to the space ground nodes or computer centers where data and information are processed and stored. For example, denying US adversaries position navigation information could significantly inhibit their operations.

•• Degradation. Permanent partial or total impairment of the utility of space systems, usually with physical damage. This option includes attacking the ground, control, or space segment of any targeted space system. All military options, including special operations, conventional warfare, and information warfare are available for use against space targets.

•• Destruction. Permanent elimination of the utility of space systems. This last option includes attack of critical ground nodes; destruction of uplink and downlink facilities, electrical power stations, and telecommunications facilities; and attacks against mobile space elements and on-orbit space assets.

[x]Ibid., IV-10.

[xi]Lt Col David E. Lupton, On Space Warfare: A Space Power Doctrine (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, June 1988).

[xii]Several of these individuals were quite prolific; the following list represents their best known works: Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1980); Julian S. Corbett, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy, ed. by Eric J. Grove (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1988. First published 1911); Giulio Douhet, The Command of the Air, ed. by Richard H. Kohn and Joseph P. Harahan (Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1983. First published 1921); William Mitchell, Winged Defense: The Development and Possibilities of Modern Airpower—Economic and Military (New York: Dover, 1988. First published 1925); and John A. Warden III, The Air Campaign: Planning for Combat (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1988). On the importance of these works see, Jon Tetsuro Sumida, Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1997); Philip S. Meilinger, ed. The Paths of Heaven: The Evolution of Airpower Theory (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 1997); and David R. Mets, The Air Campaign: John Warden and the Classical Airpower Theorists (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, April 1999).

[xiii]Virtually all of these concepts are applied throughout the Chief of Staff-directed yearlong study by Air University that is published as SPACECAST 2020 (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University, 1994). See also, for example, Arnold H. Streland, “Clausewitz on Space: Developing Military Space Theory through a Comparative Analysis,” Air Command and Staff College Research Paper, April 1999; and Charles H. Cynamon, “Protecting Commercial Space Systems: A Critical National Security Issue,” Air Command and Staff College Research Paper, April 1999.

[xiv]In 1997, then-CINCSPACE Howell M. Estes III attempted to remedy the lack of a comprehensive space-power vision or theory by commissioning Dr. Brian R. Sullivan to write a book on space-power theory. This project was taken over by James Oberg and published as Space Power Theory (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1999). On the enduring nature of strategy and problems with developing space-power theory, see also Colin S. Gray and John B. Shelton, “Spacepower and the Revolution in Military Affairs: A Glass Half-Full,” in Spacepower for a New Millennium, 239–58; and Colin S. Gray, Modern Strategy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 243–67. The 2001 publications by Watts, Lambakis, and especially Dolman (The Military Use of Space, On the Edge of Earth, and Astropolitik) will undoubtedly go a long way towards filling the yawning spacepower theory gap in the literature.

[xv]Hays and Mueller, “Going Boldly—Where?” 37.

[xvi]Lt Col Dennis M. Drew, “Of Leaves and Trees: A New View of Doctrine,” Air University Review 33, no. 2 (January–February 1982): 40–48; Lt Col Charles D. Friedenstein, “The Uniqueness of Space Doctrine,” Air University Review 37, no. 1 (November–December 1985): 13–23; and Col Kenneth A. Myers and Lt Col John G. Tockston, “Real Tenets of Military Space Doctrine,” Airpower Journal 2, no. 4 (Winter 1988): 54–68.

[xvii]The Air Force published AFM 1-6 on 15 October 1982, and its release was designed to coincide closely with the stand-up of Air Force Space Command on 1 September 1982. For a detailed critique of AFM 1-6, see Peter L. Hays, “Struggling towards Space Doctrine: U.S. Military Space Plans, Programs, and Perspectives during the Cold War,” unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, May 1994, 400–422.

[xviii]Friedenstein, 21, 22.

[xix]Myers and Tockston, 59. A more up-to-date and outstanding blueprint for developing space doctrine is provided by Maj Robert D. Newberry, Space Doctrine for the Twenty-First Century (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, October 1998).

[xx]Available from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments website, http://www.csbaonline. org/2Strategic_Studies/1Revolution_in_Military_Affairs/Revolution_Military_Affairs.htm.



[xxiii]Gray and Shelton, “Spacepower and the Revolution in Military Affairs,” in Spacepower for a New Millennium, 239–58. Emphasis in original.

[xxiv]The four camps are presented from a U.S. national security perspective; they could also be used for analysis at the global security level. There are also many strands of thought within any of these camps, and some of them might even be contradictory. The four camps are similar to the four space doctrines discussed in Lt Col David E. Lupton, On Space Warfare: A Space Power Doctrine (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, June 1988) and have been derived from the schools of thought about space weaponization discussed in Lt Col Peter Hays and Dr. Karl Mueller, “Going Boldly—Where?” Aerospace Integration, the Space Commission, and the Air Force’s Vision for Space,” Aerospace Power Journal 15, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 34-49. The growing importance of commercial space activity adds a new dimension to this analysis that few of the traditional approaches seem well prepared to incorporate or even address. For a groundbreaking analysis that advocates using economic criteria to separate traditional military space functions from more regulatory functions that would be performed by a new U.S. Space Guard (modeled after the Coast Guard), see Lt Col Cynthia A. S. McKinley, “The Guardians of Space: Organizing America’s Space Assets for the Twenty-First Century,” Aerospace Power Journal 14, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 37–45.

[xxv]Sen. Bob Smith, “The Challenge of Space Power,” Airpower Journal 13, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 33. Prominent space hawk groups include High Frontier, the Heritage Foundation, and the Center for Security Policy.

[xxvi]Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization, (Washington, D.C., 11 January 2001), x. Hereafter Space Commission Report. Most U.S. space policy, military space doctrine, and military officers probably fall into this camp.

[xxvii]Maj William L. Spacy II, USAF, “Does the United States Need Space-Based Weapons?” Cadre Paper 4 (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, September 1999), 109. See also Maj David W. Zeigler, “Safe Heavens: Military Strategy and Space Sanctuary,” in Col Bruce M. DeBlois, ed., Beyond the Paths of Heaven: The Emergence of Space Power Thought (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, September 1999), 185–245.

[xxviii]Lt Col Bruce M DeBlois, “Space Sanctuary: A Viable National Strategy,” Airpower Journal 12, no. 4 (Winter 1998): 41–57. This article is one of the most comprehensive and persuasive expositions of the space dove camp.

[xxix]Paul B. Stares, The Weaponization of Space, U.S. Policy 1945-1984 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985).

[xxx]Model I (rational actor), Model II (organizational process), and Model III (bureaucratic politics) are commonly used lenses for examining governmental decision making that were developed by Graham T. Allison in Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1971).

[xxxi]See, in particular, the outstanding analysis of trigger events for space weaponization in Barry D. Watts, The Military Use of Space: A Diagnostic Assessment (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, February 2001), 97–106. Watts argues that: “There are at least two paths by which orbital space might become a battleground for human conflict. One consists of dramatic, hard-to-miss trigger events such as the use of nuclear weapons to attack orbital assets. The other class involves more gradual changes such as a series of small, seemingly innocuous steps over a period of years that would, only in hindsight, be recognized as having crossed the boundary from force enhancement to force application. For reasons stemming from the railroad analogy . . . the slippery slope of halting, incremental steps toward force application may be the most likely path of the two.” Watts discusses high-altitude nuclear detonations, failure of nuclear deterrence, and threats to use nuclear ballistic missiles during a crisis as the most likely dramatic trigger events. He illustrates what he considers the most likely of the gradual paths to weaponization by using the development and military implications of railroads as an analogy for space:

First, orbital mechanics makes satellites more like railroads than aircraft or capital ships; second, the main function of these orbital railroads is to collect and transport information to users on earth, particularly information about enemy forces and capabilities. If this information collection-and-transport use is the main value of satellite systems, then it follows immediately that there are a lot more ways to interrupt space-based or space-dependent information flows than physically destroying satellites. For instance, if an enemy happened to be deriving military information about American force deployments from commercial satellites, an entirely non-lethal solution would be to use diplomatic pressure to cut off the opponent from further information. Other approaches could range from jamming vulnerable segments of the information chain to using terrestrial forces to interdict the satellite ground stations or other nodes through which the information was being routed.

These possibilities have an important implication for our understanding of space warfare. If a terrestrial attack on an adversary’s satellite ground station can deny use of certain space-dependent information, then it is plausible to argue that capabilities for space warfare exist today, even though lethal weapons are not currently deployed in orbital space.

It is not difficult to foresee, then, how nations could begin gradually sliding down a slippery slope toward the weaponization of near-earth space without being fully cognizant of the eventual end state. Over a period of years nations could engage in numerous activities short of outright weaponization that, in the long run, could lead to an environment in which the deployment and use of weapons in or from space would emerge as a logical and natural next step. Consider the following activities:

· using earth-based lasers to dazzle the optical arrays of electro-optical imaging reconnaissance satellites whenever they appear above the horizon;

· active jamming of imaging radar satellites;

· widespread jamming of GPS location and timing information;

· positioning satellites in orbit in close proximity with the satellites of one’s military, economic or political competitors;

· the use of satellites with active, high-power radars to degrade the electronics of adversary satellites; and

· capturing or corrupting the data streams to or from competitors’ satellites.

[xxxii]Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START I), signed 31 July 1991, entered into force 5 December 1994. Most of the discussion and analysis on START I and II below is drawn directly from Billick, “Arms Control Implications for Military Operations in Space,” 24–30. Lt Col Billick developed his outstanding analysis after working START I and II issues while serving at the Nuclear and Counterproliferation Directorate on the Air Staff.

[xxxiii]See “Article-by-Article Analysis of Treaty Text” on-line, Internet, available from http://www.state.gov/www/global/arms/starthtm/start/abatext.html#IX.

Paragraph 2 of Article IX in START I is adopted verbatim from paragraph 2 of Article XII of the ABM Treaty and is essentially identical to subparagraph 2(a) of Article XII of the INF Treaty. It prohibits each Party from interfering with the national technical means of verification of the other Party operating in accordance with paragraph 1 of Article IX. This means, for example, that a Party cannot destroy, blind, jam, or otherwise interfere with the national technical means of verification of the other Party that are used in a manner consistent with generally recognized principles of international law. Note that while paragraph 2 of Article IX prohibits interference with national technical means, the prohibition on interference with inspectors during inspections is in the Inspection Protocol.”


[xxxv]See the discussion of FOBS in the OST Regime section above.

[xxxvi]START I, Paragraph 4 of Article IV provides limits on ICBMs and SLBMs used for delivering objects into the upper atmosphere or space. The parties recognized that such use of ICBMs and SLBMs is valid and economical, but they also recognized that such use must be limited because such missiles could also be used for their original purpose of weapons delivery. In order to limit the potential for breakout, paragraph 4 limits each Party to no more than five space launch facilities, which are defined as specified facilities from which objects are delivered into the upper atmosphere or space using ICBMs or SLBMs. Paragraph 4 also provides that these facilities may not overlap ICBM bases; limits each Party to a total of no more than 20 ICBM or SLBM launchers at those facilities, of which no more than ten may be silo and mobile launchers, unless otherwise agreed; and limits the number of ICBMs or SLBMs at a given space launch facility to no more than the number of launchers at that facility. Space launch facilities are not subject to inspection. The number of space launch facilities and the number of launchers at those facilities may be increased or decreased if the parties agree. Such changes would not require an amendment to the Treaty. These treaty provisions also affect tensions in the commercial space sector between launch service users such as satellite builders and launch service providers. In general, the former have advocated greater use of deactivated ballistic missiles for space launch while the latter do not support such use because it has the potential to flood the market with deactivated ballistic missiles used as space launchers.

[xxxvii]START I, Article X, and the Telemetry Protocol. During the Cold War, the United States invested billions of dollars in intelligence-gathering equipment designed primarily to obtain telemetry data on Soviet ballistic missiles. Gathering and analyzing this information was among the most difficult intelligence challenges of the Cold War.

[xxxviii]Agreement between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Notifications of Launches of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (Ballistic Missile Launch Notification Agreement), signed at Moscow, 31 May 1988, entered into force 31 May 1988.

[xxxix]START I article by article legal analysis makes specific reference to the national aerospace plane in describing the treaty definition of airplane and the treaty prohibition against flight-testing, equipping, and deploying nuclear armaments on an airplane that was not initially constructed as a bomber but has a range of 8,000 km (kilometers) or more or an integrated planform area over 310 square meters. However, the parties did not reach agreement on the applicability of the treaty to future non-nuclear systems. During the negotiations, the United States stated its view that a future non-nuclear system could not be considered a new kind of strategic offensive arm and, thus, would not be subject to the treaty. The Soviet Union did not accept this view. The parties agreed, in the Second Agreed Statement, that, if “new kinds” of arms emerge in the future and if the parties disagree about whether they are strategic offensive arms, then such arms would be subject to discussion in the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission. Of course, if one party deploys a new kind of arm that it asserts is not subject to the treaty, and the other party challenges this assertion, the deploying party would be obligated to attempt to resolve the issue. There is, however, no obligation to delay deployment pending such resolution.

[xl]Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II), signed 3 January 1993. The US Senate provided its advice and consent to ratification of START II on 26 January 1996. The Russian Duma completed ratification on 14 April 2000 with conditions. US Senate review of the modified treaty is pending.

[xli]Memorandum of Agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on the Establishment of a Joint Center for the Exchange of Data from Early Warning Systems and Notifications of Missile Launches (JDEC MOA), signed in Moscow and entered into force on 4 June 2000. According to the fact sheet released about the MOA:

This agreement—which is the first time the United States and Russia have agreed to a permanent joint operation involving US and Russian military personnel—is a significant milestone in ensuring strategic stability between the United States and Russia. It establishes a Joint Data Exchange Center (JDEC) in Moscow for the exchange of information derived from each side’s missile launch warning systems on the launches of ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles. The exchange of this data will strengthen strategic stability by further reducing the danger that ballistic missiles might be launched on the basis of false warning of attack. It will also promote increased mutual confidence in the capabilities of the ballistic missile early warning systems of both sides. The JDEC will build upon the successful establishment and operation during the millennium rollover of the temporary joint center for Y2K Strategic Stability in Colorado Springs. The JDEC will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with American and Russian personnel. The JDEC is also intended to serve as the repository for the notifications to be provided as part of an agreed system for exchanging prelaunch notifications on the launches of ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles. This agreement is currently being negotiated separately.

On-line, Internet, available from http://www.clw.org/coalition/summit060400launch.htm.

At least implicitly, the JDEC is one response to the potentially dangerous weaknesses the United States perceives in the post–Cold War Russian Federation strategic early warning system. The most chilling example of this took place on 25 January 1995 when the Russian strategic command and control system was activated after computers mistakenly identified a Norwegian research rocket launch as an attacking US Trident II SLBM. Reportedly, the Russians raised their nuclear alert status and President Boris Yeltsin was prepared to activate his nuclear launch codes out of the Russian version of the “football” before the situation was reassessed and the alert status decreased back to normal several minutes later. See Nikolai Sokov, “Could Norway Trigger a Nuclear War? Notes on the Russian Command and Control System,” Program on New Approaches to Russian Security Policy Memo Series, memo no. 24, on-line, Internet, available from http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~ponars/POLICY%20MEMOS/Sokovmemo2.html; and Center for Security Policy Decision Brief, 21 November 2000, “Clinton Legacy Watch #50: Stealthy Accord With Russia Threatens to Foreclose U.S. Space Power,” on-line, Internet, available from http://www.security-policy.org/papers/2000/00-D91.html.

[xlii]Memorandum of Understanding on Notifications of Missile Launches (PLNS MOU), signed 16 December 2000.

[xliii]On the spectrum of opinion concerning the JDEC and PLNS see, for example, John Steinbruner, “Sharing Missile Launch Data,” Pugwash, on-line, Internet, available from http://www.pugwash.org/publication/nl/nlv38n1/essay-steinbruner.htm; and “National Security Alert,” Center for Security Policy, 8 December 2000, on-line, Internet, available from http://www.security-policy.org/papers/2000/00-A44.html.

[xliv]Steven Livingston, “Transparency or Opacity? Information Technology and Deception Operations,” paper presented at the International Studies Association Annual Convention, Chicago, 21–24 Feb 2001. Livingston’s quotation is from Don E. Tomlinson, “Computer Manipulation and Creation of Images and Sounds: Assessing the Impact,” Washington, D.C.: The Annenberg Washington Program, 1993). See also Ivan Amato, “Lying with Pixels,” Technology Review (July/August 2000).

[xlv]Kimberly Amaral, “The Digital Imaging Revolution: Legal Implications and Possible Solutions,” on-line, Internet, available from http://www.umassd.edu/Public/People/KAmaral/Thesis/digitalimaging.html.

[xlvi]Dehqanzada and Florini, No More Secrets, viii.

[xlvii]On 9 June 1999, the Canadian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense announced that they had formed an interdepartmental team of experts who are charged with developing new “access control” legislation to control Canadian commercial remote sensing satellites. The principles guiding the interdepartmental team are very similar to PDD-23, and the process of drafting and implementing the policy is expected to take up to two years. The News Release and a Backgrounder are on-line, Internet, available from Min_Pub_Docs/101271.htm. Unlike many other dual-use technologies (pharmaceutical plants, for instance), high-resolution remote sensing systems are limited in number, expensive to build, and very difficult to launch or operate covertly. They could, therefore, be more easily controlled than many other types of dual-use technology.

[xlviii]Kerry Gildea, “NIMA Extends Deal with Space Imaging for Exclusive Imagery Over Afghanistan,” Defense Daily, 7 November 2001, 2; “Eye Spy,” The Economist, 10–16 November 2001; and Pamela Hess, “DOD Won’t Release Pix Until 5 Jan,” Washington Times, 7 November 2001. In addition, the French Ministry of Defense barred SPOT Image from selling or distributing images of Afghanistan and the surrounding regions to anyone except that ministry. “Shutter Control for SPOT Over Afghanistan,” Space Newsfeed, 28 October 2001, on-line, Internet, available from http://www.spacenewsfeed.co.uk/2001/28October2001.html. These decisions have left Cypress-based ImageSat International as the only company able to provide one-meter commercial imagery of Afghanistan and the surrounding region. Barbara Opall-Rome, “U.S. Data Purchase Opens Doors for ImageSat,” Space News, 22 October 2001, 6.

[xlix]Lt Gen Bruce Carlson, USAF, “Protecting Global Utilities: Safeguarding the Next Millennium’s Space-Based Public Services,” Aerospace Power Journal 14, no. 2 (Summer 2000): 37. For a more detailed discussion of why GPS does not fit exactly into existing categories of “natural monopoly,” “public good,” “utility, ” or “dual-use technology” see Scott Pace et al., The Global Positioning System: Assessing National Policies (Washington, D.C.: RAND Critical Technologies Institute, 1995), 184–89.

[l]Carlson, “Protecting Global Utilities,” 38. All modern “digital compression” telecommunication protocols such as time division multiple access or code division multiple access require highly accurate timing signals to operate.

[li]Ibid., 37. The PanAmSat Corporation’s Galaxy 4 satellite failed on 19 May 1998.

[lii]John M. Logsdon, “Just Say Wait to Space Power,” Issues in Science and Technology (Spring 2001), n. p.; on-line, Internet, 24 April 2001, available from http://www.nap.edu/issues/17.3/p_logsdon.htm.

[liii]USSPACECOM perhaps made this “Flag Follows Trade” argument most strongly in Long Range Plan: Implementing USSPACECOM Vision for 2020 (Peterson AFB, Colo.: US Space Command, Director of Plans, March 1998).

[liv]Carlson, “Protecting Global Utilities,” 41.

[lv]Planetary defense or the effort to track and eventually defend against potentially life threatening near-earth objects (NEO) that might impact earth is another high-profile window for cooperation on a space-related issue, but it does not appear to be a traditional control or regulation effort and is not discussed in this essay. For more information about planetary defense, see, for example, “Preparing for Planetary Defense: Detection and Interception of Asteroids on Collision Course with Earth,” SPACECAST 2020, append. R, on-line, Internet, available from http://www.au.af.mil/Spacecast/app-r/app-r.doc; Air Force 2025 Research Paper, “Planetary Defense: Catastrophic Health Insurance for Planet Earth,” on-line, Internet, available from http://www.au.af.mil/au/2025/volume3/chap16/v3c16-1.htm; and Brig Gen S. Pete Worden, NEOs, Planetary Defense and Government: A View from the Pentagon,” on-line, Internet, available from http://www.spaceviews.com/2000/04/article2a.html.

[lvi]“Frequently Asked Questions about Orbital Debris,” NASA-Johnson Space Center, Space Science Branch, on-line, Internet, available at http://orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/faq/faq.html.


[lviii]The European Space Agency estimates that 44 percent of the catalogued orbit population (larger than 10 cm) originated from the 129 on-orbit fragmentations recorded since 1961. See European Space Agency, “Introduction to Space Debris,” on-line, Internet, available from http://www.esoc.esa.de/external/mso/debris.html; and the Aerospace Corporation’s “What is Orbital Debris?” website available from http://www.aero.org/cords/orbdebris.html. Until fairly recently, several spacefaring states (Russia in particular) routinely blew up their satellites at the end of their useful life. Inadvertent mixing of propellant and oxidizer and over pressurization of residual fuel or batteries are the most common causes of unintentional explosions.

[lix]In LEO (less than 2000 km altitude) the average relative velocity at impact is 10 km per second. At this speed: “An aluminum sphere 1.3 mm in diameter has damage potential similar to that of a .22-caliber long rifle bullet. An aluminum sphere 1 cm in diameter is comparable to a 400 lb safe traveling at 60 mph. A fragment 10 cm long is roughly comparable to 25 sticks of dynamite.” In GSO, average relative velocity at impact is much lower (about 200 meters per second) because most objects in the geostationary ring move along similar orbits. See “What are the Risks of Orbital Debris?” on-line, Internet, available from http://www.aero.org/cords/debrisks.html.

[lx]Aerospace Corporation, “What is the Future Trend?” on-line, Internet, available from http://www.aero.org/cords/future.html. The space shuttle must infrequently (every year or two) maneuver away from known orbital debris. Critical components on the International Space Station have been designed to withstand the impact of debris up to 1 cm in diameter.

[lxi]Historic Space Policy documents are available from the Air War College’s Space Operations & Resources Gateway, on-line, Internet, available at http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/histpol.htm. The first emphasis on orbital debris in National Space Policy came in President Reagan’s 11 February 1988 National Space Policy and by the Clinton administration’s 19 September 1996 National Space Policy, mitigation of orbital debris was a major intersector guideline:

(7) Space Debris

(a) The United States will seek to minimize the creation of space debris. NASA, the Intelligence Community, and the DoD, in cooperation with the private sector, will develop design guidelines for future government procurements of spacecraft, launch vehicles, and services. The design and operation of space tests, experiments and systems, will minimize or reduce accumulation of space debris consistent with mission requirements and cost effectiveness.

(b) It is in the interest of the USG to ensure that space debris minimization practices are applied by other spacefaring nations and international organizations. The USG will take a leadership role in international fora to adopt policies and practices aimed at debris minimization and will cooperate internationally in the exchange of information on debris research and the identification of debris mitigation options.

[lxii]Leonard David, “Eye in the Sky to Track Space Junk,” Space.com, 7 November 2000, on-line, Internet, available from http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/ space_trafficcontrol_001102.html.

[lxiii]For a detailed discussion of STCS (especially the technical requirements for such a system), see “Space Traffic Control: The Culmination of Improved Space Traffic Operations,” SPACECAST 2020, append. D, on-line, Internet, available from http://www.au.af.mil/Spacecast/app-d/app-d.html.


The Current Legal Regime Governing the Use of Outer Space
Jonathan Dean
Adviser on International Security Issues
Union of Concerned Scientists

I want to thank the organizers, UNIDIR, the Simons Center, Ploughshares, Canada, and the Simons Foundation, for bringing about this important conference on the crucial topic of outer space and global security.

Most of us here today will recollect that this year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, the cornerstone of the treaty regime covering activities in space. The Outer Space Treaty was concluded at a time when the United States and the Soviet Union, fearing the disastrous results of extending their military confrontation into space, joined other UN member states in deciding that space must be used only for peaceful purposes.

These worries about the dangers of weapons competition in space continue equally valid today.

Outer space has been “militarized.” It is already inhabited by at least 500 satellites used for military purposes, among them navigation, sensing, imaging, communications, and weather. These activities are generally considered useful, passive and non-aggressive. There is no prospect and no widely shared desire for their elimination. They have never been formally challenged.

For the past generation, however, the Treaty’s injunction that space should be used only for peaceful purposes has been maintained with regard to orbiting or stationing weapons in space. But there are prospects that this peaceful regime may end.

As part of its missile defense project, the United States foresees two space-based weapons – a space-based laser and a space-based kinetic kill vehicle — for testing and orbit within a decade. Even before weapons are orbited in space, ground-based or aircraft-mounted anti-satellite weapons could be deployed. Something else is coming at us still sooner: A Presidential Directive issued this past June ordered a review of U.S. national space policies, with a wrap-up report due at the end of February, 2003. Given the administration’s approach in its Nuclear Posture Review, in its National Security Strategy featuring the possibility of preemptive attack, and the known views of administration leaders on space policy, we can expect that this policy review will make an aggressive case for U.S. domination of space by force of arms which will serve as a rallying point for supporters of weaponization. We should be prepared to inform the public about this policy statement, and opponents of weaponization must soon create a rallying point of their own.

The weaponization of space is a looming tragedy for all humanity, an immense destructive iceberg that we can see bearing down on us, even more significant in its long-term consequences than today’s real worries over the proliferation of nuclear and biological weapons among rogue states and terrorists. If the weaponization of space does take place, with whatever weapons or justification, it will be the ultimate act of weapon proliferation. All of humanity will feel its self-destructive effects.

To meet these evident dangers, it is time that government and NGO thinking begin to coalesce around a specific, fully articulated approach for preventing the weaponization of space. Given the fact that world governmental and public opinion opposes weaponization and that there is today only one declared proponent of weaponization, the United States government, the objective of an agreed approach must be to shift the views of the United States polity away from support of weaponization and toward opposition to it. This effort must be made at all levels of the U.S. political system: executive, Congress, commercial interests, media, and public.
Legal and Treaty Aspects

My job today is to deal with the legal and treaty aspects covering the use of space. By this point in our conference, it is again evident that the big problem about the legal regime governing the use of space is that the Outer Space Treaty prohibits the orbiting of weapons of mass destruction in space, but does not specifically prohibit other weapons. Article IV of the Outer Space Treaty prohibits placing in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. It also prohibits the testing and the deployment of any kind of weapon on the moon or other celestial bodies.

In practical terms, this means that nuclear weapons mounted on missiles may transit space and that weapons other than nuclear, chemical or biological may be placed in space orbit and used to attack targets in space or on earth. Countries may also create armed military bases on orbiting satellites. There is no ban on air-based or ground- or sea-based anti-satellite or anti-missile weapons.

In addition to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, five other treaties address outer space. These are: The Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which prohibits nuclear tests and nuclear explosions in the atmosphere or in outer space; the Astronauts Rescue Agreement of 1968; the Liability Convention of 1972, which established procedures for determining the liability of a state that damages or destroys space objects of another state; the Registration Convention of 1976 requiring the registration of objects launched into space; and the Moon Agreement of 1984, which took the first steps to establish a regime for exploiting the natural resources of space.[1]

Beyond this, there are five relevant General Assembly resolutions. They are: The Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space (1963) – this preceded the Outer Space Treaty and laid out most of its content; the Declaration on International Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for the Use and Benefit and in the Interest of All States (1996); and also resolutions on Direct Television Broadcasting (1982); on Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space (1986 — this resolution seeks to assure cheap access by developing countries to non-military satellite imaging); and on the Use of Nuclear Power in Outer Space (1992) designed to limit exposure of people in crash landing of nuclear-powered satellites) and dealing with liability for such accidents.[2] After June 13, 2002, when U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty became effective, there was no longer any explicit treaty prohibition against testing or deploying in space weapons other than weapons of mass destruction.

A sixth treaty is relevant to space weapons. The concept of non-interference with national technical means of verification first appeared in the SALT I Treaty of 1972 and was taken over into the INF Treaty, which is of indefinite duration, as well as into the START I Treaty, which has been prolonged to 2009. The intent of this measure is to preserve from attack or interference technical means of verification, including space orbiting means.

As I read it, it would be a violation of the provisions on noninterference with national means of verification in the INF and START I treaties to use weapons against any early warning, imaging, or intelligence satellite and, by extension, against any ocean surveillance, signals, intelligence or communications satellite of the U.S. or Russia. This non-interference obligation was made multilateral in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which has thirty NATO and East European participants and is of unlimited duration. It is true that satellites must be used to verify specific treaties, but in most cases, it will not be feasible to determine which satellites are being actually used or could be used for this purpose. Hence, all are protected.

In the spirit of these treaty provisions, I have suggested that the First Committee of the General Assembly consider adopting separate resolutions calling for non-interference with communications, weather satellites, GPS satellites and others. Such resolutions might provide a measure of protection to U.S. and other satellites and to that extent weaken the argument for weaponization and help to mobilize world public opinion on the weapons in space issue.

At a July 2002 Paris meeting on space issues of the Eisenhower Institute, a suggestion was made to elevate the status of certain space assets like GPS and other navigation satellites, telecommunication, and weather satellites and to give them special legal status as “global utilities,” a term which Ambassador Westdal also used in his talk yesterday. The Paris meeting did not suggest how this could be done, but I believe a General Assembly resolution could proclaim satellites performing these functions to be global utilities and state that they should not be interfered with.

Several other international instruments are pertinent to space. For example, the International Telecommunication Union allocates radio frequencies used by satellites. In the event of dispute over weaponization, member states could question the numerous frequency allocations to U.S. satellites.
The Norm of Peaceful Use

Coming back for a moment to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the Treaty is based on “the common interest of all mankind in the . . . use of space for peaceful purposes.” In fact, the treaty contains four explicit references to the peaceful use of outer space.

This language points to the fact that, during the thirty-five year existence of the Outer Space Treaty, an important norm has emerged against the weaponization of space, for keeping armed conflict out of space, and for ensuring its peaceful use.

This conclusion is documented by UN General Assembly resolutions each year for the past 20-odd years calling for maintaining peaceful uses of space and preventing an arms race in space. Most of these resolutions have been unanimous and without opposition, although the United States and a few other governments have abstained.

In the most recent version adopted by the First Committee of the General Assembly at the beginning of this month, there were 151 votes for the resolution with zero opposed. The U.S. and Israel abstained. Thirty-eight permanent representatives were absent from the First Committee, or the yes vote would have been much larger. The resolution asks all states to refrain from actions contrary to the peaceful use of outer space and calls for negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament on a multilateral agreement to prevent an arms race in outer space.

These repeated, nearly unanimous resolutions with huge majorities, are not only evidence for the existence of a norm against the weaponization of space. They also indicate a very widespread desire to expand existing multilateral agreements to include an explicit prohibition against all weapons in space.

The Outer Space Treaty has other provisions that could be useful in the context of dispute over weaponization of space: Article VII makes treaty parties that launch objects into outer space liable for damage to the property of another treaty party – the procedure is spelled out in the Liability Convention of 1972. The Liability Convention foresees the establishment of a Claims Commission to determine the extent of liability for damage by the space objects of one country to the space objects or property of another state. Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty provides for consultations if any treaty party believes an activity planned by another treaty party could cause “potentially harmful interference with activities in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.”

These provisions present important possibilities for legal action in connection with possible moves to weaponize space. Beyond this, the General Assembly could by majority vote request an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice if either the peaceful uses language of the 1967 Treaty or if these two articles on liability and consultation come into contention, for example, as the space-based component of the missile defense system advances. The court could also be asked for its opinion on whether laser weapons should be classed as weapons of mass destruction and banned under the treaty.

In fact, requests for consultation under Article VII or Article IX, or also a General Assembly request for an advisory opinion, can and should come now, in order to make world opinion aware of the weaponization issue before the damage has been done, and to make the United States government more aware of the potential costs for it entailed in weaponizing space.

The request for consultation under Article IX can come from any party or group of parties to the 1967 Treaty. George Bunn and John Rhinelander have pointed out that parties to the Treaty could convene and issue an interpretation that U.S. testing or orbiting of space weapons was contrary to the peaceful uses language of the Treaty, in effect amending the Treaty to preclude weaponization. The General Assembly could pass a resolution endorsing this interpretation. (Letter to Editor, Arms Control Today, June 2002).

Presumably, Russia, France, the EU as such, or any other state party to the CFE Treaty could also take legal action against moves toward space weaponization, basing its complaint on treaty provisions prohibiting interference with national technical means of verification. Legal action could also be taken in U.S. courts by foreign or U.S. commercial users of space satellites if these satellites were endangered or destroyed by U.S. space weapons.

In short, existing space law provides numerous opportunities to make clear to the United States that weaponization of space could be a costly and difficult process for it.
Expansion of the Legal Regime

There have been many proposals to fill the gap in the Outer Space Treaty’s prohibition of weapons. Canada and several NGOs have made proposals. The most recent suggestion is a Russia-China working paper presented to the Conference on Disarmament on June 27, which contains possible elements of an international legal agreement on the prohibition of deployment of any weapons in outer space. It would also prohibit the threat or use of force against space objects, a concept which would apply to anti-satellite weapons, either mounted on aircraft or ground-based.

Unfortunately, at present, there is no prospect that this treaty outline will make progress at the Conference on Disarmament owing to the conference rule that decisions must be by consensus and to the outright opposition of the United States. The U.S. has said it is willing to discuss this issue at the CD, but not to negotiate a treaty on it. China is still insisting that, in addition to discussion, the possibility of negotiation must be mentioned in the agenda decision to launch discussion. There may be further change in the Chinese position some day. There is even some agitation to change the consensus rules of the Conference on Disarmament.

But, in the meanwhile, the Russian-Chinese draft can be refined further and developed into a useable treaty text with help from other governments and NGOs. Russian and Chinese officials have told me that they intend to establish a website and e-mail address to which NGO comments could be submitted. I hope this will be done and actively used. A draft treaty should contain definitions of space weapons, of outer space itself, and provisions for verification which are not yet part of the Russian-Chinese paper.

A draft treaty should also be one component of an agreed approach to prevent weaponization. Existing space law is a further part of the agreed case against weaponization which should to be made to all elements of the U.S. political system. Legal action against weaponization under existing space law should form part of the calculus of gains and losses from weaponization. Among the costs are the possibility of numerous lawsuits and legal actions in addition to military action like jamming, cyber interference, and ultimately use of actual weapons. It is interesting in this context that Russian-and Ukrainian-built jammers to block satellite transmissions are already on the commercial market.

An important part of an organized campaign against the weaponization of space would be to encourage other spacefaring countries, including the European Union and France, India, and Japan, as well as Russia and China, to express to the United States their concern over the prospect of weaponization and to tell the United States now, in a friendly way, that they would intend to oppose weaponization by legal means and will as needed invoke the Liabilities Convention and call for consultation under Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty. The United States government should be made aware – soon — that these governments are seriously concerned about the possibility of weaponization. It should see early on that the entire range of other U.S. interests with these countries could be jeopardized by controversy over weaponization of space.

I believe that these points demonstrate that the current regime of space treaties could be extended to block the weaponization of space and that it can be used even in its present form to make it clear to United States political and public opinion that the weaponization of space could be a very costly undertaking, as well as a very dangerous one.
[1] The Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (the “Rescue Agreement), opened for signature on 22 April 1968, entered into force on 3 December 1968, 87 ratifications; The Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (the “Liability Convention”), opened for signature on 29 March 1972, entered into force on 1 September 1972, 81 ratifications; The Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (the “Registration Convention”) opened for signature on 14 January 1975, entered into force on 15 September 1976, 43 ratifications); The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the “Moon Agreement”), opened for signature on 18 December 1979, entered into force on 11 July 1984, 9 ratifications (As of 1 February 2001).

[2] The Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space (General Assembly resolution 1962 (XVIII) of 13 December 1963); The Principles Governing the Use by States of Artificial Earth Satellites for International Direct Television Broadcasting (resolution 37/92 of 10 December 1982); The Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space (resolution 41/65 of 3 December 1986); The Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space (resolution 47/68 of 14 December 1992); The Declaration on International Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for the Benefit and in the Interest of All States, Taking into Particular Account the Needs of Developing Countries (resolution 51/122 of 13 December 1996).


Space Security: Options and Approaches
Rebecca Johnson
The Simons Centre for Peace and Disarmament Studies,
Liu Institute for Global Issues,
UBC, Canada.

The brainstorm at the end of the first day of this seminar provided a range of different tasters for today’s discussion, preparing the way for this session on options and approaches. We heard arguments for confidence-building measures dealing with debris mitigation, tracking and elimination; notification of launches – pre-launch and, interestingly, post launch; licensing of activities; partial measures such as the Stimson Centre’s space assurance concept or Clay Moltz’s proposal for prohibiting weapons in low earth orbit. We heard arguments for using existing space law more imaginatively and effectively to prevent destabilising weapons deployments or testing. Additionally, there are initiatives using national legislation, such as Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s bill in the US House of Representatives, which some NGOs want to turn into an international treaty. References were again made to amending the Outer Space Treaty, and there is of course the Chinese-Russian draft treaty tabled here in the Conference on Disarmament. Questions were raised by NGOs who want to roll back existing levels of militarisation in space and prohibit nuclear power. Last, but I hope not least, there is my own concept of a Space Security Treaty, proposed at the international Conference on Space in Moscow. April 2001.

From this we can see that there are plenty of ideas on the table, most of which are not mutually exclusive. But nothing is moving, and nothing is likely to move if we go about with an attitude of business as usual. Not in the CD or, frankly, anywhere else. Space weaponisation and related security questions currently have low public salience and low engagement by transnational civil society. But the issue has the capability of exciting public and political imagination if framed, argued and promoted effectively.

I will therefore focus on two basic questions and a number of strategic considerations.

Question 1) Why worry about space weapons now? What is the relevance of this issue when terrorism, the war against Iraq and concerns about WMD are at the forefront of public and political consciousness?

At a time when most political and military attention is on terrorism and threats from the state and nonstate terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the weaponisation of space may seem a somewhat arcane, far-fetched fantasy more suited to science fiction or the over-heated imaginations and ambitions of a few US SpaceCom fanatics. It is necessary to show the relationship between what is happening now in these issues and future dangers arising from the destabilising drive towards weaponising space.

Three main assumptions or desires underlie the drive by US SpaceCom (now merged with Strategic Command) to weaponise space: i) the belief that it is inevitable, and therefore the United States must get there first; ii) fear of growing vulnerability of space assets to a pre-emptive attack, dramatically called “A Space Pearl Harbour” in the 2001 Rumsfeld Commission[2]; and iii) the desire to control and dominate not only the military dimension but also the commercial markets that increasingly depend on space assets, represented in official documents such as “power projection in, from and through space” and “full spectrum dominance”.[3]

During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union placed intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and location/navigational assets in space to enhance their conventional forces, but they deliberately chose not to deploy space-based weapons or “orbital bombardment systems” capable of attacking terrestrial targets. Instead, they promoted the Outer Space Treaty and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Among other things, these treaties prohibited the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space and the development, testing and deployment of space based ABM systems and components. During the 1990s, US Space Command began to challenge the Cold War consensus on not deploying weapons in space. Six years ago, General Joseph Ashy spoke of fighting a war in from and into space and a year later SpaceCom’s “Vision for 2020” declared that “the medium of space is the fourth medium of warfare – along with land, sea and air.”[4] In January 2001, the US Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organisation, chaired by Donald Rumsfeld, published its report, which powerfully evoked the image of a potential “Space Pearl Harbour”. While acknowledging that “sensitivity” surrounded the notion of weapons in space, the Rumsfeld Report argued that the US government should pursue the relevant capabilities “to ensure that the President will have the option to deploy weapons in space to deter threats to and, if necessary, defend against attacks on US interests”.[5]

The 1997 “Vision for 2020” brochure issued by US Space Command noted that:

“As space systems become lucrative military targets, there will be a critical need to control the space medium to ensure US dominance on future battlefields … to ensure space superiority”. It went on to advocate that US forces should be configured to provide “full spectrum dominance”. US Space Command foresaw a role for itself in “dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US national interests and investment…[and] integrating space forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict.” To accomplish these objectives, four operational concepts were envisaged:

control of space – the ability to assure or deny access to and freedom of operations within space;
global engagement – combining integrated, focussed surveillance and missile defences with a potential ability to apply force from space;
full force integration – the integration of space forces and space-derived information with air, land and sea forces and information; and
global partnerships – augmenting military space capabilities through exploitation of civil, commercial and international space systems, including bilateral partnerships with US allies in Europe and Asia.[6] The Rumsfeld Space Commission was couched in less lurid terms than Vision for 2020. It recognised that it was in the US national interest to promote the peaceful uses of space. It concluded that space interests be regarded as a top national security priority and that the US must ensure continuing superiority in space capabilities in order “both to deter and to defend against hostile acts in and from space”, including “uses of space hostile to US interests”.[7] The Commission argued that US military capabilities would need to be transformed in the areas of:

  • assured access to space and on-orbit operations
  • space situational awareness
  • earth surveillance from space
  • global command, control and communications in space
  • defence in space
  • homeland defence
  • power projection in, from and through space.[8]

Most significantly, Rumsfeld’s Space Commission called for strengthened intelligence capabilities, investment to advance US technological leadership, the creation of a cadre of space professionals, and a restructuring of the decision-making to bring national security space policy into the mainstream and under the ‘deliberate leadership’ of the US President. It further recommended testing and exercises, including space-related ‘live fire’ events, to keep the armed forces proficient. The Commission also argued that the US should participate actively in shaping the space legal and regulatory environment, but this support for legal regulation contained a revealing warning, that the US “must be cautious of agreements intended for one purpose that, when added to a larger web of treaties or regulations, may have the unintended consequences of restricting future activities”.[9]

Until the Bush Administration came into power, it was not unusual to hear the argument that despite the few fanatics in and around SpaceCom and Rumsfeld, the technological and financial hurdles would defeat those who considered space weapons desirable, inevitable or feasible. On May 8, 2001, Rumsfeld, by now US Secretary of Defense, gave a major policy statement in which he emphasised that “There is no question but that the use of land and sea and air and space are all things that need to be considered if one is looking at the best way to provide the kind of security from ballistic missiles that is desirable for the United States and for our friends and allies.”

Giving the lie to those who thought that space had been pushed off the Republican agenda by more pressing military requirements, Paul Wolfowitz, US Deputy Secretary of Defense, noted in October 2002, that “while we have demonstrated that hit-to-kill works, as we look ahead we need to think about areas that would provide higher leverage. Nowhere is that more true than in space. Space offers attractive options not only for missile defense but for a broad range of interrelated civil and military missions. It truly is the ultimate high ground. We are exploring concepts and technologies for space-based intercepts. If these prove successful they could offer future opportunities for global protection against intermediate and long-range missile attacks, not only for ourselves but our friends and our allies and all peace-loving nations.”[10]

The major driver behind space weaponisation is missile defence, but concepts such as full spectrum dominance and space control are mirrored in the Bush Administration’s approach to combating terrorism. To paraphrase its essence: We’re more powerful than any nation in history but we’re the good guys, so if we control and dominate it will be with benign purpose, to bring freedom. For Americans this argument is beguiling. In addition, though space may have appeared to drop off the agenda after 9/11, since 2001 Rumsfeld has been quietly implementing his Commissions recommendations, most of which were aimed at embedding the infrastructure to centralise SpaceCom’s planning assumptions and provide far greater institutional access, integration and support in the Pentagon and among key defence contractors. The aim of such bureaucratic embedding is to create the conditions for SpaceCom’s premises to become operationalised in the future, able to withstand a future change of Defense Secretary or even of administration, and make it very tough for opponents of space weaponisation to dig up the institutional roots.

Undoubtedly the United States is preeminently powerful and has an extraordinary array of military resources and capabilities, but that makes a lot of other countries – allies as well as “strategic competitors” or potential adversaries – very nervous. Moreover, as 9/11 showed, in an era of asymmetric warfare (an obvious direction for the 21st century to take if we prove incapable of finding collective, more cooperative solutions to the transboundary security threats facing us), massive military power does not necessarily bring security. One country’s vision of control becomes others’ threat perceptions, with the danger that the United States could end up provoking asymmetric but nonetheless very effective security responses in others that create greater threats and vulnerabilities. Being the first to weaponise space might bring immediate advantages, but it could also accelerate threats to space assets much worse than anything currently existing or planned.

So, are concerns about space security relevant now? Yes; though there are differing views about the degree of immediacy.

Is preventing the weaponisation of space a paramount priority or pivot on US policy now? No, but it is linked with a particular political ideology that has gained traction in the Bush Administration, and history teaches us that by the time a particular weapon or military doctrine becomes an obvious priority it is usually too late to intervene and stop it. So instead of preventing a stupid or destabilising development, we end up running behind the curve calling for arms control or dis-armament, or a belated form of differential non-proliferation.

If we ignore the issue now, it is possible that – as with the “star wars” plans of earlier decades – it might go away or collapse under the weight of its own technological, military or financial contradictions. Or, alternatively, it could be quietly and efficiently embedded and promoted with a defence contract here and there (in key states and industries) – and then, suddenly, space control or space weapons is the Next Big Thing for America… and the rest of us are caught napping, with potentially devastating consequences for global security!
Question 2) How should those concerned to prevent the weaponisation of space frame the debate?

We depend on space for major civilian, commercial and military activities already. Looking at the commercial uses of space, there are around 500-600 active military and commercial satellites. Fewer than 10 nations or regional groupings have space programmes with independent access to outer space, secure launch sites and space launch vehicles. The main commercial uses of space are for: communications, entertainment, banking, navigation and location, meteorology/weather mapping, and remote sensing for environmental management, land-use and planning, early warning for disaster prevention, mitigation or relief (e.g. of climate- change-induced or naturally occurring phenomena). Among commercial users of space, the United States dominates with 64.3 percent of expenditure; European Union countries account for 19 percent; Russia 9.2 percent; Japan 2.1 percent; India 2 percent; and the rest of the world, including China some 3.4 percent.[11]

Turning to the military uses of space, the United States, with around 100 specifically military satellites (some commercial satellites also have military applications), accounts for 94.8 percent of world expenditure on military space applications. The EU countries together have some 3.9 percent, and Russia around 1 percent. The rest of the world, including China, account for less than 0.3 percent.[12] The current military uses of space include: communications, command and control; navigation, positioning and location, which may also support targeting for terrestrial weapons systems; monitoring (including national technical means for verification); surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance.

Given its disproportionate reliance on space assets, it is no wonder that the US is worried about the vulnerability of these assets, but the fundamental question US advocates of space weaponisation have to answer is why they think weaponising space would be a sensible response to such vulnerabilities.

A distinction must here be made between the “militarisation of space” and the “weaponisation of space”. These terms are sometimes used as if they were interchangeable, but they are not. Some also employ the term “peaceful uses of space” in ways that ignore the national technical means (NTM), surveillance and pinpointing technology that allow conventional weaponry to be finely aimed, controlled and fired. Space is already considerably militarised with significant observation, intelligence and communications assets. While (as far as we know) there are no specifically designed and deployed weapons in space yet, there are satellites that could be manoeuvred to act as weapons and disable or destroy the space assets of others. The question of what makes a weapon is not so much one of specific technological function or capability but of intention, context and use. This recognition has profound implications for the kind(s) of arms control or disarmament approaches that could be considered feasible. Furthermore, while some of the military uses of space have already gone beyond what I consider desirable, and there are some very grey areas surrounding technology such as targeting components, it is important to acknowledge the positive use of space-based intelligence for verifying arms control treaties, early warning of environmental and military threats and so on. These distinctions and clarifications are important when considering ways to prevent the weaponisation of space and develop a code of conduct for the non-aggressive, non-offensive uses of space. Attempts to “demilitarise” space, as some NGOs demand, are (whether we like it or not) non-starters. For the reasons given above, they are not feasible, although it would be desirable to regulate the military uses of space and restrict activities that directly threaten the assets and security of others.

Therefore, when considering questions of space security, it must be recognised that though space has not yet been specifically weaponised, it is already heavily militarised. The issue is further complicated because commercial systems may have strategic, safety or arms control (monitoring, confidence-building and verification) value; and military uses are often combined with or utilise commercial space systems.

In framing the issue, we should avoid it becoming a polarisation between positions for or against weapons in space. It would be far more constructive to frame the questions in terms of how best to ensure the security and safety of those assets and activities in space on which we depend, and to maintain a healthy environment in space for the maintenance and benefit of life on earth. How the issue is framed has fundamental implications for strategies and approaches that might be undertaken by those concerned to prevent space becoming a future battleground or the site of major environmental damage that could harm us here on earth. Before considering strategies, however, we should briefly consider current threats, possible types of weapons and the international legal environment governing space activities.

Threats to existing space assets

For the 21st century, outer space is clearly an area of growing commercial and military importance. The Rumsfeld Commission focussed on risks from anti-satellite weapons and the growing vulnerability of space assets to a pre-emptive attack. It must be recognised that military and commercial systems in space are not just vulnerable to space-targeted attacks, since they depend on ground facilities (telemetry, tracking and control, communications, data reception etc) and radio links (carrying commands, communications, telemetry and data), both of which provide much more accessible opportunities for interference, disablement or destruction. It is unlikely that adversaries would risk a pre-emptive force-attack when electronic hacking, jamming or “spoofing” provide a low tech, low cost means of disrupting space assets. The weaponisation of space as a proposed response to asset vulnerabilities clearly needs to be placed in a much wider context that US SpaceCom literature suggests.

Perhaps the most immediate danger, already arising from careless human actions in the first 45 years of space activities, is the significant threat to satellites and space-based activities from space-crowding and orbital debris. Space in low earth orbit (LEO) – defined by some as 60-500 km above the Earth[13] – is teeming with human generated debris, defined by NASA as “any man-made object in orbit about the Earth which no longer serves a useful purpose”. There are some 9,000 objects larger than 10 cm and an estimated 100,000-plus objects of between 1-10 cm. As orbiting debris may be travelling at very high velocities, even tiny fragments no larger than a fleck of paint can pose a significant risk to satellites or space-craft, as experienced by astronaut Sally Ride. As noted by Joel Primack, a physics professor at the University of California and expert on the problems of space debris, “the weaponisation of space would make the debris problem much worse, and even one war in space could encase the entire planet in a shell of whizzing debris that would thereafter make space near the Earth highly hazardous for peaceful as well as military purposes”.[14] This would entomb the earth and jeopardise the possibility of further space exploration. In addition, Primack speculates that even a small number of “hits” in space could create sufficient debris to cause a cascade of further fragmentation (a kind of chain reaction), which could potentially damage Earth’s environment and, as the sun’s rays reflect off the dust, cause permanent light pollution, condemning us to a “lingering twilight”.[15]

There are several different technical approaches that could reduce the vulnerability of space-based assets without resorting to the deployment of weapons. These include:

hardening and shielding power sources and vulnerable equipment both to protect against electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) effects and certain levels of kinetic impact;
building in redundancy, ensuring that there are back-up facilities and replacements to avoid a whole system being crippled if one or a few parts of it are disabled;
increasing situational awareness, manoeuvrability, and stealth/concealment capabilities.

Types of Space Weapons

There are two broad categories of military assets: force-support (communications, command and control, sensor and surveillance) and force-application, i.e. strike weapons. There are three main types of space-related force application assets: space-strike weapons (SSW); anti-satellite weapons (ASAT); and ballistic missile defence (BMD) weapons.

1) Space-based Strike Weapons operate in space for one or more orbits and are intended to strike at earth-based (land, sea or air-based) targets. They may be:

  • Directed energy weapons (DEW), such as space based laser; or
  • Kinetic energy (also called kinetic kill) weapons (KEW or KKW)
  • Nuclear (currently prohibited under the Outer Space Treaty) or conventionally armed interceptors

2) Anti-satellite weapons are intended to damage, disable or destroy others’ satellites, and may be:

  • space-based orbital ASAT
  • ground-based ASAT

3) space-based ballistic missile defence weapons, such as space-based laser, kinetic or armed interceptors would destroy ballistic missiles during boost-phase or mid-course flight trajectory. Some proposed missile defences, such as the “brilliant pebbles” of earlier SDI concepts, could also destroy satellites in orbit.

A further complication when considering threats to space assets and options for arms control is that any country with a ballistic missile capability must be regarded as having a space-launch and an ASAT capability as well. The technology is essentially the same.
PAROS in the CD: The Chinese-Russian Initiative, June 2002

Since 1999, when President Clinton bowed to Republican Congressional pressure to pursue the first leg of what was then called “national missile defence”, the issue of PAROS has come to the fore in discussions on the CD’s agenda. Juxtaposed against a ban on the production of fissile materials for weapons (fissban) by China, which took the position that these two issues must be treated “equally”, PAROS became stuck in the CD deadlock over its programme of work. This playing off of two important issues is regrettable, since both are important for international security: prohibiting the production of fissile materials for weapons is still an essential step towards nuclear disarmament, and preventing the weaponisation of space before it becomes a destabilising fait accompli is clearly desirable.

Going beyond familiar rhetoric, on June 27, 2002, Russia and China, together with Indonesia, Belarus, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe and Syria, co-sponsored a working paper on “Possible Elements for a Future International Legal Agreement on the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects”.[16] Consisting of 13 articles, the June 2002 working paper was laid out as a draft treaty. The preamble stated that “only a treaty-based prohibition of the deployment of weapons in outer space and the prevention of the threat or use of force against outer space objects can eliminate the emerging threat of an arms race in outer space and ensure the security for outer space assets of all countries, which is an essential condition for the maintenance of world peace”. The basic obligations comprise three elements: “Not to place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying any kinds of weapons, not to install such weapons on celestial bodies, or not to station such weapons in outer space in any other manner; Not to resort to the threat or use of force against outer space objects; Not to assist or encourage other States, groups of States, international organisations to participate in activities prohibited by this Treaty.” The working paper then contained provisions for national implementation measures, the confusingly-termed “use of outer space for peaceful and other military purposes”, confidence-building measures, settlement of disputes, implementing organisation, amendments, duration, signature and ratification, entry into force, and authentic texts. Responding to the Chinese-Russian working paper, US Ambassador Eric Javits told the CD that the United States saw “no need for new outer space arms control agreements and opposes the idea of negotiating a new outer space treaty”. He said that the US was willing to support establishment of a PAROS Committee that would carry out “broad ranging” and “exploratory” discussions at the same time as it negotiated a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT). Noting the pre-eminence of states’ own national security needs, Javits argued that confidence-building measures rather than a new treaty were likely to be the most effective outcome of CD discussions.[17] Strategies for Addressing Space Security

As noted above, US advocates of space weaponisation rest on three assumptions: inevitability, vulnerability and control. The higher the level of reliance on space assets for military purposes, the greater the vulnerabilities. As displayed first in the strikes on Former Yugoslavia over Kosovo and then in Afghanistan, the United States now depends on an array of “smart” weaponry that in turn depends on very sophisticated data and guidance systems, telemetry, and electronic communications. This “revolution in military affairs” (RMA) in turn, depends on satellites.[18] But military and commercial systems in space are not just vulnerable to space-targeted attacks, since they depend on ground facilities (telemetry, tracking and control, communications, data reception etc) and radio links (carrying commands, communications, telemetry and data), both of which provide much more accessible opportunities for interference, disablement or destruction. It is unlikely that adversaries would risk a pre-emptive force-attack when electronic hacking, jamming or “spoofing” provide a low tech, low cost means of disrupting space assets. As noted earlier, there are further technical approaches that could reduce the vulnerability of space-based assets without resorting to the deployment of weapons.

Having set the pace in the militarisation of space as a means to support its ever-more sophisticated smart “conventional” weapons and forces, it is not surprising that the United States wants to prevent anyone disabling or destroying the space-based “force-support” assets that enable the smart weapons to wreak such havoc on less well armed adversaries. Moreover, states with the capabilities to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) or put satellites in space will also be capable of launching an ASAT attack. Additionally, a small number of states might be able to develop laser weapons suitable for an ASAT attack against anything in lower earth orbit. Such states are likely to have their own space assets in orbit. Destroying or fragmenting satellites would greatly increase the problem of space debris, thereby risking the attacker’s space assets as well.

The weaponisation of space as a proposed response to potential vulnerabilities needs to be placed in a much wider context than US SpaceCom literature suggests. It is not the inevitable outcome of the use of space for commercial purposes or even military reliance, and many of the perceived vulnerabilities of space assets can be addressed in other ways. At present, no-one but the United States has the capability, intention and resources to pose a significant threat to the space assets of others. Only the United States is presently devoting real financial or technical resources to developing weapons capable of threatening space assets. If US military developments in space continue their drive towards weaponisation, however, it is likely that others will decide that they need to channel political, financial and technological resources into countering or offsetting US space-based superiority. The US already possesses the technology to impose its will on the world militarily, but there are growing indications that it lacks the intelligence and human infrastructures to manage such overwhelming military superiority in the interests of greater security. Such levels of dominance are not only destabilising; they may be self-defeating in security terms, provoking adversaries to direct their attacks at the “soft belly”, such as undefended civilians in cities, as happened on September 11th. A serious consequence of asymmetric warfare is that the drive for military invulnerability is matched by growing civilian vulnerability.

Notions of full spectrum dominance, as outlined by US SpaceCom, are perceived as a security threat by countries that have no political desire or intention to threaten the United States, but which would be expected by their own citizens and militaries to develop countermeasures to deter the United States. A growing number of American officers and officials now view the US drive to weaponise space to be militarily and politically self-defeating, increasing rather than decreasing vulnerabilities. They are concerned that the pursuit of space weaponisation would be expensive, provocative and escalatory, and that any initial advantage from being the first to put weapons in space would soon be neutralised as other major powers develop space weapons of their own, while lesser powers find ways to offset space superiority with asymmetric responses.[19]

In Moscow in April 2001, I argued for early international action to prohibit the research and development of military programmes that would result in the deployment of weapons in space. Consequently, I proposed negotiations on a treaty to prohibit weapons and war in space, with the following three components:

i) a ban on the deployment and use of all kinds of intentional weapons in space,

[thereby extending and strengthening the 1967 Outer Space Treaty’s prohibitions on weapons of mass destruction in space so that laser and other directed energy weapons and kinetic kill weapons are also banned, as well as any other potential offensive innovations that military researchers or planners might dream up];

ii) a ban on the testing, deployment and use of terrestrially-based anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, [adding earth-based to the ban on space-based ASAT covered in i)]; and

iii) a code of conduct for the peace-supporting, non-offensive and non-aggressive uses of space. [20]

Since then, I have engaged in discussions with experts, campaigners, governments and interested people around the world. Some wanted to start with an ASAT ban, but US uses of force-support assets in space mean that such a ban would be regarded as discriminatory and unenforceable unless coupled with a ban on space weapons deployment. Others pointed out the difficulties of defining a “weapon in space” or distinguishing between these and the military components in space of terrestrially based weapons. Suggestions for basing the ban on “purpose” rather than “technology” have been made and verification questions have been raised. These informal objections and questions have not undermined or invalidated the concept of a space security treaty or set of interconnecting agreements covering these three essential and inter-related components, but they do point to the need for legal and technical experts to get together with diplomats and government officials to work out the needs and parameters of a space security architecture.

In the same Moscow speech, I noted that “The Ottawa process, whereby civil society and a few conscientious states led the way in getting a worldwide ban on landmines is not easily reproducible, but space may be one area where the conditions prevail to make it seriously worth considering.”[21] This was interpreted by some as a proposal to negotiate a Space Security Treaty without the United States. Since the United States is the principal military and commercial space user and its current StratCom approach provides the main driver for concerns about weapons deployment in or from space, excluding the United States from negotiations on space security would be manifestly absurd. At the same time, however, the opposition of a clique in the current US administration need not succeed in preventing others from beginning to address the serious security questions arising from growing dependence on space assets. Recent developments notwithstanding, the United States is a pluralist society, and it is clear that the administration and even the Pentagon are divided about the best approach to enhance space security.

It is true that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has increased the penetration and power of proponents of space weaponisation within the bureaucratic structure of the Department of Defense, but vigorous military and realistic arguments are also emerging, not least from the armed forces, in favour of the space sanctuary concept and a space weapons ban.[22] In the industrial and political sectors there are major players who are by no means convinced by the arguments for space weaponisation, but nor are they opponents; few have yet realised how crucial this issue may be to 21st century security and commerce. Economic incentives and targeted information could be used on either side to win over the undecided. The Pentagon has already begun dangling lucrative contracts associated with missile defence and space-based systems. Close and careful analysis of future budgets will be essential for winkling out semi-hidden defence allocations in this area. Civil society would need to develop strategies for working with space weaponisation sceptics or opponents within the US establishment, and at the same time we must utilise cognitive strategies to show investors with interests in space-based communications, navigation, and entertainment assets that the weaponisation of space would jeopardise their commercial activities. For commercial strategies to work, the key is to talk to users of space assets, rather than the manufacturers: the manufacturers of space hardware are also large defence contractors and their calculation of costs to benefits of space weaponisation might favour lucrative military projects where fiscal accountability is much less than in the commercial sector; the users, by contrast, are more diverse and can be more readily convinced that their losses would greatly outweigh any potential benefits from space weaponisation. Working with and within the United States is therefore of utmost importance to any space security strategy, but that does not either let the international community off the hook or shut it out of strategic engagement on this issue.

My mention of the Ottawa process resulted in a further knee-jerk misunderstanding: a number of diplomats in Geneva and New York accused me of undermining the CD. The CD’s long years of deadlock are doing quite a good job of undermining its multilateral role without any contribution from me, particularly as I am known to be a strong supporter of multilateralism. In my view, it would be an excellent thing if the CD could agree a work programme that included consideration of issues associated with space security, but I also think that deadlock and veto in the CD should not be allowed to prevent such discussions taking place at all. But it is not necessary to get stuck on the question of “the CD or not the CD”. The point is to identify what needs to be addressed, to demonstrate the political urgency, and to create civil society and international pressure so that an appropriate modality in terms of forum, venue or institution comes forward (or is created) to enable concerned states to begin the process of tackling these security questions.

While it can be useful for treaty language, such as the Chinese-Russian draft in the CD, or national legislation, such as US Representative Dennis Kucinich’s US Space Preservation Bill[23] (which has also given rise to an NGO-sponsored Space Preservation Treaty) to be put on the table to stimulate public and political debate, it is still far too early for these to become a viable basis for negotiations or real legislative action. If such initiatives are recognised by their proponents and supporters to be, in practice, tools for public and political mobilisation and for stimulating discussion, they can play a very valuable role. If, however, their proponents become stuck on the minutiae of their texts or get single-minded about their particular approach, premature treaty or legislative initiatives can turn out to be counter-productive, even serving to focus and strengthen the opposition, thereby “inoculating” the issue against later, more pragmatically targeted campaigns to develop legislation that would enhance space security and prevent weaponisation.

In the current political environment, it might be best to start with confidence-building and cooperation measures. The Outer Space Treaty refers to the importance of international cooperation and use of outer space and makes a suggestion for states parties to observe the flight of space objects launched by other states. Restraint regimes are generally more successful when they have both incentives, (shared technology or participation rights, for example) for those who renounce their own programmes, and transparency and confidence-building measures. In this regard, there are a range of measures, relating not only to space-vehicle/missile launches, but also to shared concerns about space collisions and debris, that could be profitably discussed in the run-up to comprehensive negotiations. Agreed measures or a preliminary code of conduct could be established voluntarily to begin with, and then incorporated into a negotiated instrument when the time came.

At present, we are in the fortunate situation that – as far as we can tell – no-one has yet deployed dedicated space weapons (though satellites can be manoeuvred to function as kinetic-kill weapons). It would be foolish to wait until the first weapons were deployed (or the first accident occurred) and then try to establish a retrospective non-proliferation or disarmament regime in space. We have the opportunity for once to put into practice the knowledge that prevention is better than belated nonproliferation attempts to close the stable door once some of the horses have gone out on a rampage, causing potentially severe damage to themselves and others, as well as threatening terrestrial security. Much better to seize the early initiative to take preventive and precautionary measures before too much serious investment of money and prestige has gone into convincing people of the world and politicians that weapons in space will keep them safe.

The weaponisation of space is too important to be used as a political football in the Conference on Disarmament or anywhere else. As soon as possible, states need to start discussing the wider aspects of space security. Such discussions are likely to expose the need for a code of conduct to govern space activities and cooperative use. From there, I think it will become increasingly clear that the issue needs to be more comprehensively addressed by means of multilateral negotiations, leading towards some kind of space security agreement. This might encompass the three basic elements of my April 2001 proposal for a Space Security Treaty, or some version of Kucinich’s Space Preservation Bill or the Chinese-Russian “Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects”. Or it might be a hybrid or, indeed, bear a different political stamp altogether. At this stage, the objectives can be sketched out but it would be wasteful to spend too much time trying to colour them in.

At present the conditions have not yet been developed for negotiations on a treaty to be viable. The levels of issue-salience and civil-society engagement are still quite low. It could be very useful to consider initial measures on launch notification, for example, or space debris, as long as such measures are recognised as confidence-building means rather than treated as sufficient ends in themselves. Advocates of a space weapons ban need to focus on the following strategies:

i) forge alliances within the military, political and industrial sectors, especially in the United States, using technical expertise and cognitive strategies aimed at diminishing support for space weaponisation and shaping interests in the direction of identifying US security needs as best served through creating a space security regime.

ii) strengthen the advocates of a space weapons ban both within and outside the United States by encouraging knowledge-sharing and the development of a unified objective and approach. The objective of space security needs to be promoted in terms of a non-weaponised architecture, with a code of conduct regulating space activities to enhance the security of space assets and current and future non-offensive uses and activities.

iii) unify as large a group of states as possible behind a coherent concept for a space security treaty, preferably through building a strong civil-society-government partnership.

iv) maximise the effective engagement of global civil society around achievable goals and viable strategies.

Energising global civil society would require a number of different, intersecting approaches to motivate different constituencies. For some this would mean showing the connections with missile defence programmes or highlighting the likely environmental consequences of deploying weapons and conducting tests and explosions in space, which could create even more debris with unpredictable consequences for the Earth below or future space activities. For others it would mean working with advocates of safeguarding or even increasing the existing military and commercial uses of space, in the interests of preventing actual weapons being tested or deployed.

It is well known that a major crisis or shock can act as the spur or motivating power for change, much as the Cuban Missile Crisis paved the way for the PTBT, and the deterioration of cold war relations and anti-nuclear upheavals in Europe in the 1980s paved the way for the INF Treaty. Rather than waiting for some appalling accident or event to happen, civil society needs to find effective ways to imagine and depict the potential catastrophes that could occur if space weaponisation, testing or war were permitted to go forward. There is nothing wrong with motivating public action through images that make people afraid, if the threats and risks underlying the fears are well founded. In the case of space weaponisation or war, the dangers cannot be predicted and must not be underestimated. Future exploration and the peaceful uses of space could be irrevocably damaged. Life on earth could even be harmed in unpredictable ways. We need to create new partnerships between governments, industry, space users and explorers, and informed, concerned citizens to get this message across to the wider public and their political representatives.

© Rebecca Johnson, November 2002. Comments welcomed to rej@acronym.org.uk



[1] Parts of this presentation are based on recent papers on the same subject given to meetings in Southampton, New York, Beijing and Washington, as part of a rolling process of raising awareness of the strategic considerations that must be addressed.

[2] Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organisation, Washington D.C. (Public Law 106-65), January 11, 2001.

[3] United States Space Command, Vision for 2020, February 1997.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Report of the 2001 Space Commission p 12. This echoes US SpaceCom’s Long Range Plan, which stated: “At present, the notion of weapons in space is not consistent with US national policy. Planning for this possibility is the purpose of this plan should our civilian leadership later decide that the application of force from space is in our national interest.” United States Space Command, Long Range Plan, March 1998, p 8.

[6] United States Space Command, Long Range Plan, Executive Summary, March 1998.

[7] Report of the 2001 Space Commission pp 7-10.

[8] ibid. p 16.

[9] The Space Commission also recommended that disparate space activities should be merged under a streamlined command structure, that the Secretary of Defense collaborate closely with the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), that US national space policy should be brought into the centre of defence planning, and that sustained government investment in science and breakthrough technologies would be necessary to maintain US leadership in space. Ibid. See also James Dao, “Outer Space is Apple of the Pentagon’s Eye”, the International Herald Tribune, May 9, 2001.

[10] Transcript – Wolfowitz Outlines Missile Defense Successes, Way Ahead, US State Department (Washington File), October 25, 2002.

[11] 1999 data – provided by Dr Alain Dupas, University of Paris.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Space abounds with disagreements about definitions. For example, LEO is defined by some as between 100-1,500 km above Earth and by others as 180 miles (288 km) to 1,200 miles (1,920 km); Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO), is around 35,000 km above the Earth’s equator, where satellites proceed on circular, 24 hour orbits. In between is the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).

[14] Joel Primack, “Pelted by paint, downed by debris”, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October 2002, pp 24-25.

[15] Ibid. p 71.

[16] CD/1679, June 28, 2002. This was a follow-on from China’s earlier working papers on PAROS. In order to bring Russia on board as a co-sponsor, China’s position underwent some important shifts. In particular, its 2001 working paper entitled “Possible Elements of the Future International Legal Agreement on the Prevention of the Weaponisation of Outer Space” (CD/1645) had proposed that the scope should cover “weapons, weapon systems or their components that may be used for warfighting in outer space”. This provision was clearly intended to prohibit orbital attack weapons and anti-satellite weapons, but appeared to rule out some of the existing force-support roles, which could be construed as components of weapons, and was very ambiguous on interference with military space assets by electronic means rather than physical force (for example, hacking or jamming), covered for civilian satellites under the 1932 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Convention, as amended in 1992 and 1994.

[17] Eric Javits, ambassador of the United States of America to the CD, June 27, 2002, CD/PV.907.

[18] See, for example, Lawrence Freedman, The Revolution in Strategic Affairs, Adelphi Paper 318, (International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1998).

[19] For further arguments from the military advocates of creating a “space sanctuary” along the lines of Antarctica, see Lt. Col. Bruce M. Deblois, Space Sanctuary: a Viable National Strategy, (1997), available at http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/apj98/win98.deblois.html. See also some of the papers in James Clay Moltz, ed. Future Security in Space: Commercial, Military and Arms Control Trade Offs, Occasional Paper No. 10 (Monterey Institute of International Studies, July 2002).

[20] Rebecca Johnson, “Multilateral Approaches to Preventing the Weaponisation of Space”, Disarmament Diplomacy 56, (April 2001).

[21] Ibid.

[22] Bruce M. Deblois, op. cit.

[23] HR 3616 (January 2002). In essence, the Bill calls on the U.S. to ban all research, development, testing, and deployment of space-based weapons. It would also require the United States to enter negotiations toward an international treaty to ban weapons in space.


Remarks from the Geneva Meeting on Outer Space and Global Security
James Clay Moltz
Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Monterey Institute of International Studies

There is a disturbing lull in international negotiations on space security. The United States is opposed to new treaties and is moving ahead with missile defense and options to base weapons in space. The vast majority of states, meanwhile, are calling for a total ban on space weapons and, in many cases, also on nation-wide missile defenses. This stalemate poses a number of risks, but also perhaps some opportunities.

I agree with Rebecca Johnson’s point that, unfortunately, there is a lack of significant public “demand” for new forms of space arms control at present. Ambassador Dean argues that the time is ripe for opponents of space weapons to begin to rally their arguments and develop new strategies. I agree. He also makes a good point that while there may be little public interest in space arms control today, there is also very little public support for a new “Star Wars.” This is where the opportunity lies.

Fortunately, due to a number of factors, the United States is currently distracted from moving forward quickly on space weapons. Preparations for a possible war in Iraq and efforts to enforce Iraqi compliance with U.N. resolutions against Iraq’s reconstitution of its weapons of mass destruction programs have diverted considerable attention. Similarly, in the missile defense area, perceived near-term threats, such as North Korea, are refocusing the program on technologies that would be deployable sooner rather than later. This situation buys time for opponents of space weapons and those who want to develop an alternative (non-military) architecture for future space security.

In the rest of my remarks, I would like to provide some updates on the current space weapons debate in the United States. While there are grounds for concern in many areas, I would also like to highlight what I see as some positive trends. I will conclude with some suggested means of using the current break in international negotiations to make progress in developing new confidence-building measures, which are a key prerequisite to future treaties. I will also outline some new opportunities for reviving an active debate on space weapons and for changing its currently limited focus, particularly, by placing a new emphasis on alternatives to weapons, such as “non-offensive” defenses.
Shifts in the Recent U.S. Debate on Space Weapons

There have been significant changes, I would argue, in the U.S. debate over space weapons over the past six months. In June 2002, the former chief of the Defense Department’s weapons procurement division, Philip Coyle, published an important article in Arms Control Today criticizing the “scatter-shot” approach of the Bush administration in regards to missile defense. By putting money into all possible programs (including space), the Bush team—he argued— was diverting resources that would be better invested in those technologies that might have a real chance of coming to fruition in the next few years. He argued that without significant changes, the missile defense program risked losing its focus and slipping its deployment schedule even further.

As if reading from the same script, the administration’s Defense Science Board issued a study on missile defense options in September 2002. It called for a new set of priorities, specifically, a greater focus on near-term technologies—such as the ground-based interceptor and sea-based programs—rather than on exotic technologies and space-based options. General Kadish, head of the Missile Defense Agency, voiced his support for the new approach. Interestingly, conservatives in the U.S. Congress sharply criticized the new report for “abandoning” what they see as crucial, space-based components of the missile defense plan.

The political map in the United States in relation to space defenses has also changed. First, Senator Bob Smith, one of the key supporters of the Army’s Kinetic Energy Anti-Satellite (KEASAT) program lost his Republican primary election during the summer of 2002 in New Hampshire to a more moderate Republican, who eventually won election over a Democratic opponent in November. For many years, Smith had placed money into the Defense Department budget for the KEASAT program, keeping it alive and moving forward, despite the lack of an administration request under either Clinton or Bush. His exit from the political scene suggests that this program may finally be shut down, as the services are not eager to see this kind of “debris-stimulating” technology deployed. Second, the return of Republican control to the U.S. House and Senate after the November 2002 elections—combined with the coming retirement of Senator Jesse Helms—has brought Senator Richard Lugar to the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Lugar has been openly critical of the administration’s emphasis on national missile defense over other key defense programs, particularly, the nonproliferation assistance programs in the former Soviet Union that he helped establish in the early 1990s with former Senator Sam Nunn. Lugar wants to see these programs receive more funding, as he believes that the threat of terrorists gaining access to access to weapons of mass destruction and radioactive material in the former Soviet Union remains a much more serious concern than any “rogue state” ballistic missile threat to the United States. Thus, he actually may prove more influential in steering future spending away from space-based weapons than were the Democrats during their tenure in the Senate majority.

Other evidence of change can be seen the Defense Department’s budget for fiscal year 2003. Hidden among the general figures for missile defense (which remained stable) was a sharp cut in spending for the space-based laser. This program had already been cut by Congressional critics in 2002 from an administration request of $170 million to $50 million. For 2003, Congress cut the Bush request for $35 million to a mere $25 million, effectively putting it on the back burner. In addition, sharp language in the Defense Department authorization bill from Republican Senator Ted Stevens expressly forbids the administration from using any funds to develop low-yield nuclear-weapons for the purpose of missile defense in space.

These trends show that even Republicans in the Congress have serious reservations about the administration’s aggressive push for space weapons. Cost concerns over expensive space weapons could deepen further on the Republican side if the administration goes to war in Iraq, as the Republican leadership is already worried about the impact of mounting federal deficits on the 2004 Congressional and Presidential elections.
Developing New Approaches to Space Security

In these conditions, there may be fertile ground for new approaches to space security. While treaties are still not going to gain the support of the Bush administration, other countries should not assume that nothing can be done or that there are no supporters for a more cautious approach in the United States. Instead, states should be pursuing a number of confidence-building measures and an alliance-building strategy in order move the current debate forward, seek out grounds for consensus on some specific issues (such as debris mitigation), and set the stage for possible future treaties.

Indeed, there are number of avenues for possible progress, even with the Bush administration in office. Unilateral measures are one option. Individual countries could state that they will not be the first to test space weapons or to deploy them, thus challenging the United States and other countries to accept similar pledges as a new norm. Second, in the bilateral realm, pairs of countries could make pledges to one another not to interfere with each other’s spacecraft. Such pledges would be especially influential among existing space powers, possibly setting the stage for a broader convention or future treaty. At the multilateral level, initiatives in the area of debris mitigation have already gained the support of the United States within the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. These conventions should be pushed through to their conclusion, which will help broaden the base for future arms control measures. Other concepts, such as “non-offensive” defenses (decoys, spares, and maneuverable satellites), should be promoted by international organizations as meaningful, non-threatening alternatives to space weapons. Finally, development of a U.N. resolution on non-interference with satellites should be initiated. Such an effort would provide a means of breaking out of the stale PAROS approach and possibly attract U.S. interest at both the commercial and governmental levels (given recent State Department speeches supporting the right of all states to gather information from space).

At the level of non-governmental organizations, there is also quite a bit of work that needs to be done, particularly in regards to influencing and educating the public, which is still poorly informed on space security questions. No major studies, for example, have emerged in recent years on the long-term costs of space weaponization. Given budget realities in the United States, such studies could begin to have a significant impact in chipping away at support for such expensive programs, particularly when the technologies are far from proven. Options—such as using unmanned aerial vehicles to reduce reliance on reconnaissance satellites and the creation of a ready reserve of spares satellites with a quick-launch capability—should be examined and publicized. Their lower costs could be contrasted favorably to those of deploying and maintaining space weapons (both in terms of the systems themselves and in terms of political and strategic costs of weaponizing space over the long term). Finally, the space debris issues needs to receive more public attention both in the United States and internationally. This is something that most people can understand and yet is not part of the current public vocabulary regarding space. The debris issue shows why space is different from other realms (such as the airspace and seas) and uniquely unsuitable for war-fighting.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that our center plans to continue to work on expanding the debate on space weapons and security. Our particular focus will be on bringing different U.S. constituencies together for discussions on space security, exposing U.S. policymakers to foreign perspectives regarding space, and developing unilateral and cooperative alternatives for reducing space vulnerabilities.

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