FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Space as a Battlefield

Through Star Wars and other works of science fiction, we have become so accustomed to thinking about space-based warfare that the Bush Administration's recently revised National Space Policy comes as little surprise.

Aside from encouraging research and free enterprise in space, the policy declares America's right to defend space against anyone "hostile to US interests." It also rejects US participation in future arms control agreements that would attempt to limit or ban space weaponry.

Despite the concerns of critics, the Bush Administration denies that the purpose of the new National Space Policy is to develop space weapons. Rather, according to National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones, the policy merely "reflect[s] the fact that space has become an even more important component of U.S. economic, national and homeland security." Additionally, the idea of militarizing space is nothing new, with serious discussions on the matter dating back to at least the Clinton years.

TIE and X-Wing fighters won't be duking it out in Earth orbit anytime soon, but the policy speaks to the importance of space and very real concerns about space warfare. According to the National Reconnaissance Office, China recently aimed a ground-based laser at a US satellite... an act that could have destroyed the satellite given a powerful enough laser. As such devices become increasingly powerful, and potentially fall into the hands of rogue states like North Korea or terrorist groups, the need to protect our space-based infrastructure will quickly move from the theoretical to the critical.

Source: Washington Post