A disturbing space arms race is on

Now accessible to multiple public or private entities, space makes satellites increasingly vulnerable. Thus, the great nations are preparing for a possible conflict even in space and have engaged in an arms race.

Satellites are strategically very important in the military domain of powers and military officials have been concerned for some time now about the vulnerability of satellites in space. Indeed, space players are more numerous than before, whether they are nations or private companies and some, such as China or Russia, are particularly well prepared for a possible space attack.

 » We must look to the future: what will happen if a conflict on Earth spills over into space? How will we defend our satellites? “, recently declared the civilian boss of the US Air Force, Deborah Lee James. Indeed, some recent events may cause concern. In 2015, for example, a Russian satellite positioned itself for several months between two Intelsat commercial satellites in geostationary orbit, even approaching within 10 kilometers of one of them.  » An unauthorized approach and so close (…) is really worrying “, estimates Victoria Samson, specialist of an American foundation working for a durable exploitation of space.  » Our satellites are crucial to our national security and the fact that another satellite can approach them and interfere with their activity is truly disturbing. for military strategists.

In 2013, several events of this type also took place, such as China, which sent a small satellite into low orbit capable of maneuvering towards another device or even firing a missile to strike a satellite in geostationary orbit 36,000 km away. altitude.

The United States is concerned about these events.  » In recent years, the Pentagon has done a lot to develop responses to the threats that Russia and China are developing. We have to go faster “, recently declared John Hyten, in charge of the American strategic forces.  » If someone has a device in orbit capable of destroying our satellites, we may need capabilities to defend them “, explains for his part Elbridge Colby, of the CNAS Defense Research Center in Washington.  » Space will inevitably become militarized (…) We must be realistic and develop effective, but limited forms of attacks in space, in particular non-kinetic weapons « .

But some doubt this posture adopted by the United States, such as Victoria Samson who considers  » that there is a bit of exaggeration by those in the military sphere who find it hard to accept that the United States may lose its role as the dominant power in space « . Indeed, the country already has four satellites such as those sent by China or Russia, as well as a mobile jamming station capable of jamming a satellite from Earth. A missile has also already been successfully tested.  » For the moment, we are very much in the technological demonstration “, but without diplomatic initiative, “ we will end up having an arms race in space worries Theresa Hitchens, researcher at the University of Maryland.

Source: Science and Future

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