As more and more countries get involved in space, the risk of conflict increases. For that reason, the US Air Force Space Command is already viewing space as a potential battleground.
That’s according to General John Raymond, commander of the Air Force Space Command, who made the comments yesterday at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Space is a warfighting domain just like air, land, and sea,” he said, reported Space News.
To prepare for any conflicts in space, Raymond said they had developed a concept of operations (CONOPS) for space. He didn’t delve into specifics too much, but said the focus was on “command-and-control elements” and “integrated space awareness and warning.” Presumably, the latter involves tracking satellites and whatnot for any potential meddling.
A White House report from back in May contains some further information. In that, Raymond said the US has enjoyed “unimpeded freedom of action in the space domain” for decades. However, he said this was “a condition we no longer enjoy today.”
“At present, our potential adversaries understand the competitive advantage we derive from space and view our reliance on space as a critical vulnerability they can exploit,” he said. “[I]n the not too distant future, near-peer competitors will have the ability to hold every US space asset in every orbital regime at risk.”
The aim is to prevent war, Raymond noted, rather than actually start a conflict. To do so, Space Command planned to track objects in orbit with high accuracy.
They also want to maintain access to space, noting that they were “excited” about adding SpaceX as a launch provider, alongside the United Launch Alliance (ULA). Of importance will be keeping communications satellites operational in orbit, in addition to GPS satellites, by conducting regular launches.
One area that’s particularly useful is monitoring missile launches from space, something that’s pretty topical now that tensions with North Korea are hotting up. The Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS GEO) space vehicle, launched on January 20 this year, will work alongside existing similar satellites.
While we probably don’t have to worry about all out space war just yet, this report highlights some of the preparations the US is already taking just in case the worst comes to the worst. The military has always had an interest in space, of course. But as space becomes more accessible, they seem to be wary of what the future might hold.
“It is a national imperative that we posture ourselves to deter any conflict that would extend to space, and if deterrence were to fail that we fight and win,” said Raymond.