Thursday, November 06, 2003
Onwards and Upwards

On a related note, here is a report from the Center for Defense Information on the weaponisation of space. At this point in time, the militarisation of space continues apace with ten nations having a military capacity and forty nations with the potential to do so, through their current civil capability. The dominance of the United States is awesome: they account for 95% of all military space expenditure and have 110 military operational satellites compared to 40 for Russia and 20 for the rest of the world combined. (One should note that this includes the Global Positioning System).

There is an incentive for the United States to adopt offensive weapon systems in space to protect its military assets and the United States Air Force Space Command's most recent plan has earmarked their deployment in the timeframe 2016-2028.

The report examines the case for whether other countries have the capability of deploying space-based weaponsry, the most promising of which are micro-satellites that can attack and disable existing satellites. There have been statements by some nations, notably China and India, that they are working towards these capabilities but these are considered to be rhetorical flourishes.

Apart from the United States, every other country favours a diplomatic prohibition on space weaponry in order to hobble US supremacy in this area. The other drawback for dependence on space systems is that they are vulnerable to a 'scorched orbit' strategy by a desperate enemy using a low yield nuclear warhead in a low earth orbit or payloads of granular particles.

(6th November 2003, 21.56)


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