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Space Combat in the 21st Century

Do you remember the last time, when you gaze into the open sky, it is beautiful. Full of stars, dust and cosmic galaxy. We are in one corner of this vast universe.

When the cold war began, one thing that started with the weapons race was the space race. The humans in a way to outdo each other wanted to dominate the cosmic space. On October 4, 1957, the world watched in awe and fear as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first man-made satellite, this small metal ball, smaller than 2 feet in diameter, launched an 18-year space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Ironically U.S.S.R was not the first one rather was V2 rocket used by Germany in the last years of World War II in missile assaults on allied towns.

At the end of this entire space race, it was just a huge waste of moment that two main super-powers were attempting to outdo each other by creating symbolic initiatives that were both hazardous and costly, using funds that could have been better invested elsewhere, quite sure, but the greatest advantages of the space program had nothing to do with one nation defeating another in space.

The space, when accessible has opened a whole new domain of the warfare after the Space Race in the Cold War.

The Space Warfighting domain involves fighting that takes place in outer space, that is, outside the atmosphere. It therefore involves ground-to-space warfare, such as attacking satellites from Earth, and space-to-space warfare, such as satellites attacking satellites. In one view, it does not include the use of satellites for espionage, surveillance or military communications, although some writers prefer to include these military resources in the “space” aspect. Only a few occurrences of space warfare have happened in world history, and all of them have been coaching tasks, as compared to action against true opposing powers. In the mid-1980s, the P78-1, a communicating satellite in a 555 km orbit, was effectively shot down by anF-15 pilot. In 2007, China used a rocket scheme to kill one of its outdated satellites, and in 2008, its malfunctioning US-193 satellite likewise was destructed. To date, no human deaths have been recognized as a result of space war or a surface destination has been neutralized from the orbit. International space limits treaties or space disputes are regulated and arms, and particularly nuclear arms are limited to their assembly.

But for how long, we can control ourselves from not using the technologies that we possess?

A Project Excalibur, intended to detonate a nuclear weapon in Space, was developed in the 1970s by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calibur. Lasers would then concentrate the ensuing x-rays on as many as 50 incoming rockets at a moment to ruin them as they did through space toward the US and its allies. However, the project crashed due to absence of advancement and financing. At present, the main use of lasers is to dazzle spy satellites and prevent them from collecting their data.

It is noted that China and Iran have accomplished so in exchange for US satellites and the West is probable to do so. This is likely to be the first strike in a space war. The satellites could also be the same. Hackers can even now work on inside spacecraft control structures artificially to position smart software routines.

This can be triggered by receiving a certain message or by fulfilling an onboard situation. The European Space Agency aims at protecting its satellites by creating quantum encoding methods for potential tasks. Consider this strategy as the brute force. This can also harm the attacker, so an advanced variant is a spaceship fitted with mechanical weapons, which grab the aim and remove solar panels or tools.

With all the developing technologies, it’s not a hard fact that we might witness a full-scale space war. Joan Johnson-Freese, in his book, Space Warfare in the 21st Century: Arming the Heavens warns us, especially in the context of USA. Americans have spectacularly failed to hamper the spread of space technology and must therefore build a confident approach, primarily with China. It is excluded from civil and scientific mission collaboration, while the majority of other space-faring countries are involved. However, such a convincing strategy prescription is sheltered by a major problem reasoning that looks at spatial stabilization and safety isolated from Earth stabilization and safety. Deterrence is a fancy term, but we need a more decentered approach. Maybe, for now, the best is to protect yourself.

Mantasha Sayed
Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia

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Written by Mantasha Sayed

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