Space missions reach new heights (lunar landings, NASA studying asteroids). The final frontier continues to inspire (mining colonies on the moon and tourist resorts floating in Earth orbit).

Weather satellites, communication satellites, Earth observation satellites, satellite navigation, geostationary orbits, science fiction?

This is not 'Star Wars'; there are no space-based nuclear weapons. But John Shaw, commander of US Space Command, said, 'The space battlefield is not science fiction, and anti-satellite weapons are going to be a reality in future armed conflicts'. In reality, the world attempts to regulate conflicts in space and limit the installation of space weapons. There are no known operative orbital weapons systems, but a few powerful nations have deployed orbital surveillance networks to observe other armed forces and other countries. U.S. House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner speaks to the media about a space-based threat from Russia. If the capability potentially being developed by Russia is nuclear-powered—an electronic warfare satellite—that is not a nuclear weapon. A space-based nuclear weapon could threaten its own critical infrastructure, so there is no way Russia would use nuclear weapons in space. Any superpower can absolutely not afford to lose its own space capabilities. 'Nuclear space weapon'. Indiscretion. U.S.A. refuted by Moscow: "Stratagem".

A satellite is an object, typically a spacecraft, placed into orbit around a celestial body and has a variety of uses (Sputnik 1 was the first artificial Earth satellite launched into low-Era orbit by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957). Some satellites take pictures of other planets, the sun, and other objects; other satellites send TV signals and phone calls around the world. Every day, our modern lives are powered by thousands of Earth-orbiting satellites that enable everything from GPS signals to banking transactions, weather forecasts, and communications. And if the satellites were disrupted, the functions of modern society could be upended instantly.

Because of our high dependency on space-based services for civil life and military operations, space has become a strategic domain. Space is critical to national, regional, and international security because of space-based communications, the internet, and navigation (GPS), and satellites are a major source of military communications, operational navigation on land, at sea, and in the air, and are the guidance for precision weapons. Military satellites are artificial satellites used for military purposes. Since the 1960s, satellites have been key military sources of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and continue to be so today. Military satellites play a significant role. They are taking pictures of various military installations all over the world and can be used to monitor the movement of troops. Military satellites are also used for GPS purposes.

A huge system for the surveillance of outer space through the use of space-based radar capabilities is a key feature in the development and delivery of advanced military capabilities for nuclear-powered submarines, hypersonic weapons, drones, and cyber. This system of satellites for surveillance is vital to national security. Governments depend on satellites to rapidly collect and disseminate information to support military operations and national security. And governments with 'space domain awareness' (SDA) have the capability to swiftly predict, detect, track, and characterize threats to their space systems. A global movement is toward digital communications via the internet, computers, and telephones. And the benefits of satellite-based communications—increased efficiency and precision of information transmitted—are evident.

The U.S. transition to space-based systems and relying on satellites for military use has, more than any other country, created an asymmetric dependency. And no other country is as dependent on satellite communications as the United States, so an unexpected denial of space-enabled information or capabilities would be more debilitating to the U.S. China is continuing to invest in its sovereign SDA capabilities and establishing a network of military and civilian space surveillance sensors capable of providing detailed intelligence data. And it is establishing new facilities to improve its ability to track foreign space objects and bolster China's missile early warning alerts.

China's military will continue to integrate satellite reconnaissance, positioning navigation, and satellite communications into its weapons and command and control systems. With its data center located in Beijing, telescopes, ground stations, and data sharing across the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization, member states, and the Data Sharing Service Platform, China has full coverage of low-Earth orbit and geostationary orbit satellites. Russia is also continuing to bolster its robust surveillance network and sovereign capabilities. As part of its program known as 'Milky Way' Russia plans to build a huge network of ground-based optical telescopes by 2025, conduct surveillance from Earth observation satellites, and launch a space-surveillance satellite in 2027.

The United States signed over 170 non-binding space data sharing agreements with many governments, academic and non-government organizations, and commercial entities. The U.S. Space Surveillance Network is made up of ground-based radars and optical telescopes around the world and satellites in orbit. The Australian and United States governments are working together on Space Domain Awareness (SDA) and recently signed an Enhanced Space Cooperation Agreement, agreeing to deeper military cooperation. China, Russia, the U.S., and India are developing new weapons to attack targets in space, although there are currently no weapons in space. China deployed game-changing military surveillance, defense, and electronic warfare. A new era of strategic dominance for China...

The principles in international space law agreements are general, and the need for legal clarity becomes more critical as space technology races forward. The power of awareness in military space surveillance should not be underestimated. A growing interest in the space domain has led to the emergence of new weapon systems. Systems can have both kinetic and non-kinetic effects that are either permanent or reversible. The scope of space warfare includes ground-to-space warfare (attacking satellites from Earth); space-to-space warfare (satellites attacking satellites); and space-to-Earth warfare (satellites attacking Earth-based targets). More and more nations are jumping into the space arms race, which is resulting in the rapid proliferation of advanced space weaponry.

A space race born from the Cold War continues to unfold. And the rapid race for the international development of anti-satellite weapons increases, which could jeopardize future space exploration. It is difficult to define what are anti-satellite weapons (ASAT), which occupy a gray zone in international arms control. Anti-Satellite Weapons: kinetic energy (destroys satellites by physically colliding), ballistic missiles, drones, and explosives detonated near satellites can all function as kinetic energy, anti-satellite weapons (KE-ASATs). Any technology that can physically damage a satellite can be considered an ASAT weapon.

Active Debris Removal Technology can also remove active satellites. Many space technologies could have weapon and non-weapon uses, so regulating ASAT and many other space-based weapons systems is extremely difficult. Russia is developing an anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) system (Nudal) that can move between orbital paths and threaten more satellites than weapons. China joined the space race in 2007 and successfully destroyed an old weather satellite with a ballistic missile. China and Russia are developing more advanced non-kinetic ASAT. India also successfully tested an ASAT (in so-called Mission Shakti). Space warfare is an arena where powers like China, Russia, and India are looking to gain a strategic advantage relative to the U.S. (still in the era of U.S. space hegemony). U.S. warning satellites are capable of detecting missiles immediately after launch and tracking their paths, and they are crucial for US ballistic missile defense.

A North Korean missile launch is always threatening, but recent developments have increased the risk to South Korea and Japan. So, the U.S. early warning satellites play a central role in the event of a conflict with North Korea. But China could be in a position to fundamentally reshape East Asian geopolitics and the South China Sea. China is extremely wary of U.S. ASAT development, and China could neutralize maritime surveillance, deny access to the region, and guide cruise missiles. Each ASAT test adds tremendous amounts of space debris; more pieces of debris could be tracked, and thousands more will remain in orbit for centuries. There are no reliable methods of withdrawing debris from space. ASAT-based debris is terrifying because public health, climate change, transportation, satellite GPS, and other crucial infrastructure are dependent on satellites. Each satellite is secure from intrusion, such as space debris and other external threats, through comprehensive cyber operations and space domain awareness. Attaining escalation dominance requires constant weapon testing. A more sustainable solution than an endless proliferation of weapons should be a call for comprehensive space arms control and an end to the arms race.

The 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty and the 1967 Outer Space Treaty are still in effect today, but there are still no international regulations banning weapons in space. Nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction are the only types of weapons prohibited in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The Treaty of Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects and the Treaty on Prevention of Placement of Weapons in Outer Space were rejected by the United States because they permitted the stockpiling of terrestrial-based ASAT systems, which would enable China and Russia to continue developing their ground-launched systems. A more feasible solution is an agreement to stop testing debris-producing ASAT.

China, Russia, the United States, and India have all done nuclear tests. They realized that the debris they create is uncontrolled, long-lasting, and threatens every single satellite in orbit. They are also aware of their inability to contain the effects of destructive anti-satellite weapons and that testing ground-based anti-satellite missiles is irresponsible and unlawful under international humanitarian law. U.S. and Russian decision-makers need to secure their own access to space by prohibiting these weapons and to ensure other countries that these superpowers will not take nuclear war to space. And without regular testing, countries could be less likely to base their military strategies on ASAT in the event of conflict. It is more urgent than ever that international negotiations reach an arms control treaty. Because the continued unchecked proliferation of ASAT could help induce a nuclear war and the complete closure of space.

The United States has the most military satellites in space today. A lot of U.S. military satellite projects started in the 1950s. There are a lot of countries that have satellites in space. The U.S. has 239 military satellites in space, China has 140, Russia has 105, France has 18, Italy has 13, Israel has 11, India has 19, Germany has 7, the United Kingdom has 6, and Spain has 6. Almost 55,000 satellites have been catalogued in total. According to an online catalog, there were around 26,700 various satellites orbiting the Earth at the start of 2023. The U.S.A. leads the count with a staggering 11.655 satellites in orbit. As of February 2024, there are 5.402 StarLink operational satellites in orbit.

Star Link is the satellite network developed by the private space-flight company SpaceX (Ellon Musk). Experts see the star link as the number one source of collision hazards in Earth's orbit. Commercial satellites for communication are one of the most likely targets of enemy jammers and cyber disruptions because the military relies on them. Of particular concern are disruptions to satellite communications networks that are used to operate unmanned surveillance aircraft. Drones rely on GPS and satellite communication systems to track and strive for targets.

China and Russia deployed non-kinetic space weapons, which include lasers that can be used to permanently blind sensors on satellites and jamming devices that interfere with communication satellites. The U.S. is using a diversity of satellites in different orbits, obstructing an adversary's ability to launch an effective attack. The contribution of satellites to the Gulf War was the first space war. Desert Storm has been the first'space war'. It was the U.S. military's successful use of space-based capabilities during the conflict. Around 60 Western military satellites were directly involved. During the Israel-Hamas war, Israel's Arrow2 system intercepted a Houthi rebel ballistic missile launched from Yemen (interception occurred outside of Earth's atmosphere) and was the first practical space warfare during an active conflict. The Pentagon has declared that space is a war-fighting domain.

Generals and executives in the space industry are preparing to defend the ultimate high ground. A war in space would be detrimental to society because satellites play such a central role in everyday life. It will impact our cellphones, health care, navigation, logistics, and supply chains. It is a serious issue, and public awareness and education about the nation's dependence on space are needed. Space war is not easy to visualize; people can't see it. It is different, unlike conflicts on earth. Weapons in space (and on the ground) should be banned. The space race is turning space into a warfighting domain, and it could be devastating to our commercial and international use of space.

The main reason why the space race is accelerating is that technology is advancing rapidly, and without the operating norms in space, we are likely to have a space war.