Analysis: The Final Frontier for Weapons
Council on Foreign Relations
February 22, 2007
Prepared by: Carin Zissis
Several nations already use space for military purposes, including satellites for intelligence gathering and positioning military attacks. But experts say a difference exists between militarization and weaponization, as defined in this essay from the journal Astropolitics. While militarization is a fact of life in space, weaponization, involving major deployment of weapon systems designed for space warfare, has not. More than two decades before China’s anti-satellite test, the United States and the Soviet Union proved they had the same capabilities with their own tests, but none of the three has deployed weapons for large scale anti-satellite attacks.
Though Beijing remains years behind the Washington in terms of space technology, the January test showed Beijing could strike at the fragile surveillance infrastructure of America’s military might by attacking the satellites the United States depends on for surveillance and precision-guided weaponry. In a recent talk at the Heritage Foundation, Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) called China’s anti-satellite test “a wake-up call” and warned against “a flagging enthusiasm for space security” in the United States.
The White House has long shown interest in a more aggressive space policy, even well before the January test.
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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.
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