Space Force Officer: Orbiting Satellites Become Pawns In Geopolitical Chess Games


What is happening in space is a “natural consequence” of how military powers have historically behaved as they attempt to get a head start on their opponents, Saltzman said on Nov. 29 at a Mitchell Institute online event. “These are dynamic moments in the space security environment,” he said.

The military capabilities the United States has acquired, such as GPS-guided weapons and aerial sensors that detect missile launches, all depend on the satellites in orbit. China or Russia are urged to develop space weapons that could serve as “first trike” capabilities in conflict to deprive the United States of these advantages, Saltzman said. Earlier this month, Russia launched a Nudol suborbital missile that intercepted a former Soviet satellite 468 kilometers above Earth, creating a large cloud of debris that could endanger other satellites and the Station. international space.

“I think what we are seeing is a cycle of history. When you’re late, you look for ways to research your competition’s vulnerabilities so you can regain your advantage. And we see it unfolding, ”he said. “We have had an advantage for a long time. This sends a signal to the United States that the American advantage in space is at risk, Saltzman said. “They watched how we campaigned from Desert Storm and beyond. And they know that if they can take those capabilities away from us, it can bring more parity to the strategic military environment. “

China has demonstrated a hypersonic glide vehicle that can be launched into orbit, enter the atmosphere and hit a target on the ground. “Now what the military minds have to do is compensate for that. And we have to figure out how to defend yourself against that ability so that the first player advantage isn’t there, ”Saltzman said. “We are seeing a shift towards where the benefits of first strike are encountered in space,” he said. “They are the advantage of the first player, whoever can play first on the attack has an advantage.”

The Space Force’s chief of space operations, General John “Jay” Raymond, has often compared space to the lawless Wild West where everything happens. The United States must now determine what to do next to restore strategic stability. Saltzman said the answer doesn’t have to involve aggression. “The Space Force considers it one of its primary responsibilities to deter a war that begins or spreads in space. Deterrence is therefore at the heart of what we are trying to accomplish.

To enforce a code of conduct, it will be important for the United States and other countries to have accurate information about space activities. Russia bringing down a satellite was clearly an intentional act, “but there are other times when two objects collide and create a field of debris. Thus, a debris-generating event can happen by accident, just as much as it can happen deliberately. And we have to have this ability to quickly characterize, figure out where those orbits are, and then start making projections on the potential dangers that these new objects created in orbit could cause. Saltzman said Russia’s latest protest proves it. Space is a global common good, so it is imperative to have an international agreement in place that sets out rules of behavior and punishes violators. “It’s hard to hold people accountable for any kind of behavior because you haven’t really defined what’s okay and what’s not.” “I don’t think we should underestimate the importance of setting the framework for what responsible behavior looks like in space,” he said. “Once we have that framework defined, we can hold other countries to account in a broader sense, perhaps through the United Nations or other international coalitions and I think the international peer pressure is on. made quite valuable. “

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