Sunday, May 2nd, 2021
USA fear China and Russia
Is there a war in space?
From Kevin Schulte
Will there be a war in space soon? US intelligence agencies are warning of competition from China and Russia. Both countries are working on space weapons to destroy satellites owned by the Americans and their allies, a new report said.
War in space. Is this realistic? Will Star Wars, will science fiction become reality at some point? In any case, the US intelligence services are concerned. The “Intelligence Community”, an association of the 17 American intelligence services, recently published its annual report on the global threats to the security of the USA. In it, China is seen as America’s greatest threat in space. The Chinese military is working to match or even surpass the US’s capabilities in space. China is increasingly able to shoot satellites from the sky with rockets or to blind or damage them with lasers.
The militarization of space is not fundamentally new. After all, that already started with the use of space. “Many technologies and many uses of space are militarily oriented or have a dual-use component,” explains Kai-Uwe Schrogl, editor of the “Handbook of Space Security” and President of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), in the ntv- Podcast “Learned Again”. The militarization of space has not yet turned into an armament of space.
“Killer satellites” are secondary
The space expert warns of an arms race between the great powers in space. Although no nation has yet stationed weapons in space, attacks or interference from the ground have long been possible. “We all have this Star Wars scenario in mind, of course, where killer satellites fly around and look for other satellites and then destroy them with laser weapons. But that is secondary. What is really dangerous is what is directed at other satellites from the ground can “, explains Schrogl.
China already succeeded in doing this in 2007. A rocket was launched into orbit from the ground and destroyed its own weather satellite there at an altitude of around 850 kilometers. It was the first time a satellite was launched from Earth. Schrogl speaks of a “demonstration of ability that should intimidate”. The problem: The maneuver left a lot of space debris in an orbit that is mainly used by observation and meteorological satellites. “We are still having problems in this orbit because of this incident.”
“The danger that something will happen is always greater”
Not only China and the USA are dueling in space, Russia also plays an important role. The American intelligence report states that Russia is developing new anti-satellite weapons to disrupt and harm the US and its allies in space. “We have learned nothing from the escalation mechanisms that we were able to study in the Cold War. We should actually draw the lessons from the arms and threat race in the Cold War and apply that to space,” said Schrogl.
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But the opposite is a reality. The great powers USA, Russia and China would display aggressive rhetoric and only see opponents, analyzes Kai-Uwe Schrogl. This is due, for example, to the fact that more and more countries are bringing more and more satellites into space and these are becoming more and more important. They are used for telecommunications, navigation, but also for monitoring purposes. “The risk of something happening is growing, whether intentional or not. The countries are becoming more and more dependent on the critical infrastructures in space. That is why they fear ever stronger attacks or the crippling of the critical infrastructure escalation spiral also set in motion. “
Europe as a mediator?
There is great mistrust, which is why the United States founded the Space Force under Donald Trump. “Critical situations” and possibly even a “violent conflict in space” can quickly arise, emphasizes Schrogl. “I would not judge the Americans now for setting something in motion with this rhetoric.” The US, Russia and China would all equally “expand military uses of space”. The Americans would at least show a certain degree of transparency. The US government at least communicates what it is doing, said Schrogl.
That is not the case with Russia and China. Last year, the Americans accused Russia of conducting a weapons test in space. The US Space Command said in July that there was “evidence” that the Russians had tested an anti-satellite weapon. According to this, the Russian satellite “Kosmos 2543”, which has been in space for a year, shot down a kind of projectile. Moscow rejected the incident. During the test, only a small satellite with special equipment inspected a Russian spacecraft, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Schrogl is editor of the “Handbook of Space Security” and President of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) with 500 members from 50 countries. He is also an honorary professor with a focus on international technology policy at the Institute for Political Science at the University of Tübingen
Kai-Uwe Schrogl calls for uniform rules for space in the face of such events. The space treaty of 1967, according to which every country can use space but not lay claim to ownership, is not enough. “Europe has started an initiative to establish Space Traffic Management. This is a kind of regulation of space traffic.”
Europe could take on the role of mediator so that the USA, Russia and China do not fight each other in space. “Europe is recognized as a diplomatic power,” emphasizes Schrogl in the podcast.