The military use of space, including in support of nuclear weapons infrastructure, has greatly increased over the past 30 years. In the current era, rising geopolitical tensions between the United States and Russia and China have led to assumptions in all three major space powers that warfighting in space now is inevitable, and possible because of rapid technological advancements. New capabilities for disrupting and destroying satellites include radio-frequency jamming, the use of lasers, maneuverable space objects and more capable direct-ascent anti-satellite weapons. This situation, however, threatens international security and stability among nuclear powers. There is a continuing and necessary role for diplomacy, especially the establishment of normative rules of behavior, to reduce risks of misperceptions and crisis escalation, including up to the use of nuclear weapons. U.S. policy and strategy should seek a balance between traditional military approaches to protecting its space assets and diplomatic tools to create a more secure space environment.
Author(s): Jaganath Sankaran