Friday, December 16, 2016

Is War in Space Inevitable? Maybe Not

Is War in Space Inevitable? Maybe Not: The picture is one of chaos: highway traffic snarled, bank ATMs and the world's stock exchanges slowed and disabled, smartphones rendered dumb, air traffic grounded, communications slowed or stopped, military capability turned back in time a half century. This is a scenario recently forecast in several places as representing one of the consequences of a war in space.

There would also be no more GPS, or its Russian equivalent (GLONASS), or that of China (BeiDou2) or Europe (Galileo). No more SATCOM or weather satellites. Nations emerging with the help of satellite capabilities returning to darkness.

The war leaves the battlespace untenable for years, perhaps centuries, because of debris from destroyed satellites. Any trip to explore another planet would have to negotiate a debris minefield in space. It's a scenario some say is inevitable as space becomes more congested and contested. But maybe not. "Everything is about not having a war extend to space," said RAdm. Brian Brown, deputy commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, part of the U.S. Strategic Command.

In a November 17 panel at the Defense One Summit, Brown, DoD Deputy Undersecretary (Space) Winston Beauchamp and Scott Szymanski, mission manager for space with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, offered alternatives to space conflict.

For now, the goal is to have sufficient resilience to assure that satellite capability survives jamming and other offensive moves in orbit. Beauchamp outlined ideas being considered to build satellite resilience, singling out commercial satellite communications as a primary component of an eventual government plan.