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Militarization and Weaponization of Space



Australia has just set up a cool new Defense Space Command Agency to keep an eye on what Russia and China are up to in space. They want to make sure we’re in the know and can handle anything that comes our way out there.

Various Global Space Agencies

  • Spacecom – US Space Force.
  • Defence Space Agency (DSA) – India
  • Joint Space Command (France)
  • Iranian Space Command (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force)
  • Russian Space Forces (Russian Aerospace Forces)
  • United Kingdom Space Command (Royal Air Force)

Concept of Militarization and Weaponization of Outer Space

  • In the early 1980s, the United States introduced a plan called the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), often nicknamed “Star Wars.”
  • The goal was to launch numerous satellites into space. These satellites would have the job of spotting enemy missile launches and taking them out to enhance national defense.

Militarization Vs Weaponization of Outer Space

  • Weaponization refers to the placement in orbit of space-based devices that have destructive capacity.
  • Militarisation of outer space refers to the use of space in support of ground, sea and air-based military operations.


Our Shared Space at Risk: The vast expanse of outer space, considered a global commons, is facing a growing threat. The increasing trend of militarizing space has initiated a race to weaponize it, with the development of Anti-SAT missiles capable of destroying satellites in orbit.

Communication Systems in Peril: This weaponization poses a direct threat to global communication systems. Imagine Anti-satellite missiles targeting communication satellites, potentially disrupting worldwide communication. Additionally, the interference with satellite signals through uplink and downlink jamming adds another layer of concern.

Growing Tensions in the Stars: The surge in the number of nations showing interest in space has sparked power rivalries. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a failure to establish common ground on space security, opening the door for further militarization and weaponization.

Our Fragile Earth at Stake: The unfolding arms race to weaponize outer space creates an atmosphere of uncertainty, suspicion, and heightened competition between nations. The potential for miscalculations and aggressive deployments raises the alarming specter of space wars, with disastrous consequences that could extend to our only home in the Known Universe – Earth. The stakes are high, and the impacts could be catastrophic.

Status of Outer Space Weaponization for India

  • In March 2019, India successfully tested its anti-satellite capabilities, joining the ranks of China, Russia, and the United States in this advanced technology. This achievement was followed by the creation of two new bodies in the space arena – The Defence Space Research Organization (DSRO) and the Defence Space Agency (DSA).
  • Think of DSRO as a group focused on using civilian space technology for military purposes. On the other hand, DSA acts like a coordination center, bringing together space assets from the army, navy, and air force to devise effective strategies.
  • In July 2019, India conducted its first integrated space warfare exercise, involving personnel from various services. The main goal was to use communication and reconnaissance satellites to gather intelligence and coordinate military actions, showcasing the importance of space access.
  • Some in the Indian defense community believe more reforms are needed, suggesting the creation of a military space service akin to the US Space Force. This move would not only help protect India’s growing satellite network but also lay the groundwork for potential actions against enemy networks.

Outer Space Treaty (1967):

  • This treaty says that countries can’t put stuff in space that has nuclear weapons or other really destructive weapons.
  • It also says you can’t put those weapons on the moon or any other space thing.
  • The moon and other space things should only be used for peaceful stuff, according to this treaty.
  • India is part of this agreement.

Other Space Treaty:

There are four more agreements that go along with the Outer Space Treaty:

  • The Rescue Agreement (1968)
  • The Space Liability Convention (1972)
  • The Registration Convention (1976)
  • The Moon Treaty (1979)

These deals cover different aspects agreed upon in the Outer Space Treaty.

UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS):

  • This group at the United Nations is in charge of keeping an eye on these treaties and dealing with questions about who gets to do what in space.
  • But, interestingly, none of these treaties say you can’t do those Anti-Sat missions that some countries are into.


Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures (TCBMs) in Outer Space:

  • There’s an ongoing global discussion about the importance of implementing TCBMs for outer space activities.
  • The European Union (EU) has taken a step by drafting a Code of Conduct (CoC) to address these concerns.
  • However, major world powers have not yet reached a consensus on whether to establish and follow this Code of Conduct.

Preventing Weapons Placement in Outer Space (PPWT):

  • Russia and China have jointly proposed an idea called PPWT, which focuses on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space.
  • This proposal broadens the scope beyond just Weapons of Mass Destruction, which the US and the EU are currently hesitant to fully support.

Way Forward

To make sure everyone on Earth benefits, we really need to see space as something we all share. We should set up a system where one group oversees things, making sure we explore space safely and responsibly. This way, everyone can enjoy space peacefully, and our kids and grandkids can keep enjoying it too.

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