Space Warfare: Between Science Fiction and Reality Last Spring

People watch SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket PSN VI launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Feb. 21, 2019 at Cocoa Beach, Fla. The satellite will provide communication and internet services for Indonesia and South East Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dalton Williams)

The world didn’t know if they should laugh or salute the idea of Donald Trump’s Space Force, the sixth branch of the United States’ Armed Forces – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. This is not the first time such a proposal was made: back in 2001, a commission encouraged the Air Force to create “a space culture within the service, to include new space systems concepts, doctrine, and operational capabilities”, and ultimately the creation of a separate military commission for space.

A similar proposal was made in 2017 by two Representatives, and, of course, a third one was made last March.

Considering the increasing activity high above our heads, the growing number of satellites and the ever-growing number of private companies and countries with access to Earth’s orbit, the pressure to create an organization to enforce a set of rules and settle conflicts in space is becoming timely.

Space Race 2.0

Back in the 1960s, there were only two countries that were capable of getting a payload into space: Russia and the United States of America. Today, in turn, there are many more: Japan, India, Israel, North Korea, Iran, France, and China are also able to do so.

Besides, several other European countries have access to space launches through ESA – the European Space Agency – with 22 member states. Besides, an increasing number of private companies are working on commercial space technology, including the current leader SpaceX, routinely launching satellites and hauling cargo to the International Space Station, Boeing, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, and many others. Their ultimate goal is not to launch their rockets – that’s only the first step – but to break ground in human space flight and, ultimately, the potential colonization of space.

Humans in space

What may sound like science fiction today – a permanent human settlement either in orbit or on the surface of the Moon, for example – may become reality sooner than you think. NASA is not the only institution that plans to establish a permanent Moon base – this January, China has also revealed its plans to establish a research base on the surface of our faithful companion.

According to the press, the Chinese space administration plans to land another mission on the Moon this year, one that will collect samples and return to Earth, perhaps opening the way for a permanent presence there. And other space agencies, including Russia’s Roscosmos, the above-mentioned ESA, and India’s federal space agencies have also expressed their desires to send humans to the moon in the coming years. Given all of the above, the idea of a space military doesn’t seem science fiction at all.


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