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US Space Force Endangers Peaceful Use of Space and World Peace

Sep 20 , 2018
  • Wu Zurong

    Research Fellow, China Foundation for Int'l Studies

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Space war benefits no one.

At a meeting of the National Space Council held in June, 2018, United States President Donald Trump directed the Department of Defense to immediately begin the process to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. Under Trump’s direction, the Pentagon finished a report on the establishment of the Space Force in August. In his speech at the Pentagon on August 9, Vice President Mike Pence said, “the time has come to establish the US Space Force”, and the US is expected to have the independent unified Space Force in place by 2020. According to the Pentagon report and Pence’s speech, the future Space Force is there to protect US assets in space and to prepare for the next battlefield to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to America. It will have a new Space Command, a new unified combat command focused on space. It will be led by a four-star general and will establish space war-fighting doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures. A new space operations force will train, promote, and retain personnel, including engineers, scientists, intelligence experts, operators, and strategists. In a word, the preparations for the establishment of the US Space Force are now in full swing. It shows that the US is determined to further develop its advanced space technology and weapons in order to prepare for space combat. People all over the world are now growing more worried about the enormous potential harm the US Space Force will do to the peaceful exploration and use of space by mankind.

First, it is highly risky and even dangerous for the US to try to control outer space with its space force, and to seize more advantages in future wars against the will of the people of the world. It is known that as the aerospace industry has been developing fast, more consensuses on the exploration and use of outer space have been reached by the international community. The people of the world all agree that the exploration and use of outer space is the common cause of mankind. The exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all states. Any country should be barred from placing weapons of mass destruction in Earth’s orbit, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body. The use of the Moon and other celestial bodies should be for peaceful purposes, and they shouldn’t be used for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications. These consensuses have been expressed by and large in the Outer Space Treaty, passed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 19, 1966, and entered into force on October 10, 1967, and other relevant international documents. Obviously, the establishment of the US Space Force and its planned future activities in outer space are unpopular, and would do a lot of harm to the cause of peaceful exploration and use of outer space and world peace. Furthermore, US intention to take materials found in outer space such as minerals and ores as its legitimate private assets through making domestic laws is hegemonic and selfish, and the intention to protect those assets by the US Space Force would be dangerous. It could provoke conflicts or controversies in the international community. As a party to the Outer Space Treaty, the US should live up its commitments by giving up its plan to establish the US Space Force and relevant legislative efforts.

Second, the US has already done a lot to endanger peace in outer space by applying its sophisticated space technologies to combat preparations. As early as January 2001, the US conducted space war exercises. Since then, the US has launched an experimental miniature satellite that is capable of disrupting the normal functioning of other satellites, hypersonic experimental flight vehicles, X-37B space aircraft, and X-51A hypersonic aircraft. It has also been working hard to build a global anti-missile defense system with interceptors. Frequent US military operations in space and the fragments left over from its outdated broken satellites and aircraft have posed actual dangers to the safety of other countries’ satellites now functioning in space. For the sake of peace in outer space and the world, the US should stop applying its space technologies to military experiments.

Third, it is unwise to establish the US Space Force as the so-called space war cannot be imagined. As space technologies have been developing very rapidly in recent decades, many industries have benefitted from them. Industries and the daily activities of people, like communication, e-commerce, transportation, disaster relief, weather forecasting, are now so heavily dependent on the application of space technologies that they would suffer all kinds of immediate crises if a space war breaks out. Ideas about the US establishing space supremacy by fighting from space and fighting into space are undoubtedly very dangerous. The US should understand that it is in its best interests for there not to be a space war, and it should oppose the militarization of outer space.

The establishment of the US Space Force is still very controversial in the US. Many wise people and lawmakers in the Congress have explicitly expressed their opposition. The huge cost for the continued research and manufacture of space weapons have already prevented the budget for the Space Force from being included in the FY 2018 and FY 2019 federal government budgets. There are still many doubts if the budget will be successfully included in the FY2020 federal government budget. For the sake of world peace and the immediate interest of the people of the world, US policy makers should change course to halt the establishment of the US Space Force, and prevent the use of weapons in outer space.

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