The Battle for Space

The Battle for Space

Who Will Dominate Outer Space?

June 19, 2018, Bruno Jacobsen

Early this week, US President Donald Trump announced he was pushing for the creation of a separate military branch. This branch's focus? Space. Is this the beginning of a battle for space domination?

The Battle for Space

 

According to the administration, the new "Space Force" will be separate from the Air Force but equal. The proposal would have to go through US Congress, which won't be an easy task. It is, therefore, unlikely to come about anytime soon.

But it does raise some questions. As we develop as human beings and accomplish ever greater feats, it might not be long until we increase our presence in outer space. The number of individuals, and companies, working towards this is sufficient evidence.

So it makes sense to wonder whether the next battle won't be for space dominance.

It wouldn't be the first time, of course. Countries have been, for decades, already working on this. If you remember the Cold War, much of the space race was for the USSR and the US to assert dominance over each other. Not only to advance their capabilities, but to display them for the entire world to see.

Even today, much of the operations carried out on the ground by different armies owe a lot to satellites orbiting above.

But a Space Force, as suggested by Donald Trump, would entail something quite different. Under the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which still stands, and which has been signed by the US, China, and Russia among others, countries are not allowed to place weapons of mass destruction in orbit. In fact, to the extent that they are allowed to explore space, it must be done with peaceful purposes.

And so, any attempt to "dominate" space as suggested by Donald Trump could set a dangerous precedent. And, if it were to move forward, it would have to be fairly benign. A state of affairs that appears somewhat paradoxical, and which other powerful nations are unlikely to accept lightly.

It does, nevertheless, force us to think: If we continue on this path, we will have to come to grips with questions of power and dominance in space. If we do ever manage to go as far as building colonies in our Solar System and perhaps even explore the Milky Way, these questions will inevitably emerge.

And these may be questions worth thinking about now, if we are to prevent dangerous future mishaps.

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