Indian DefenceSpace Sector

Space Force – Unveiling the Future of Space Dominance

The concept of a Space Force has gained significant momentum in the past few years. And why not? As more and more advanced technologies are being developed in the space sector , the dependence on these assets have become critical. Almost all the nations in the world have become increasingly dependent on space systems. The dependence has been for economic, domestic security, military as well normal functioning of their daily routines. A major portion of these assets deal in communication, weather predictions, military operations and space explorations. As a result many nations have taken a foot forward towards protecting their assets and interests in space. This article takes a look into the concept of the Space Force , its components , significance. Also India’s standing in the evolving landscape of space and space related warfares is also crucial to look at.

What is Space Force

A Space Force is a specialized military branch dedicated to the operations and defense of a nation’s space assets. It functions independently or as part of the existing armed forces. Its primary mission is to protect and support space-based assets like satellites, communication systems, navigation services, and reconnaissance platforms. Space Forces also play a vital role in countering potential threats posed by other nations’ space activities. These include anti-satellite weapon deployments and interference with communication networks.

A Space Force is dedicated to space operations. This encompasses the protection of satellites, space-based assets and the ability to carry out offensive and defensive operations in the space domain. Traditionally, space operations have been managed by the Air Force or other military branches. But with the increasing complexity and significance of space activities, many nations have opted for dedicated Space Forces.

Components of Space Force

1. Space Assets Protection: The primary role of a Space Force is to safeguard and defend satellites, space stations, and other critical space assets. This includes measures to protect these assets from potential threats such as anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons or space debris. It is responsible for operating and defending military satellites and ground stations that provide communications, navigation and Earth observation, such as the detection of missile launches.

2. Space-Based Surveillance: Maintaining situational awareness is vital for a Space Force. Advanced space surveillance systems help track objects in orbit, detect potential threats, and monitor any suspicious activities in space.

3. Space-Based Communications: Effective communication is crucial for military operations. Space Forces ensure uninterrupted and secure communication between military units through satellites.

4. Space-Based Intelligence: Space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities . It offers real-time data and imagery for military planning and operations on the ground. Satellites equipped with high-resolution imaging capabilities provide critical intelligence and surveillance for military and strategic purposes.

E. Space Exploration: Part of Space Force’s role can be involved in research and exploration missions. Majorly contributing to scientific discoveries and expanding humanity’s knowledge of space.

Also Read, Militarization and Weaponization of Space

Nations and their Space Force Initiatives

United States

When it comes to Space Force, United States has been on the forefront with a dedicated Space Force. In December 20, 2019 United States Space Force (USSF) was officially established. It came into existence as the sixth branch of the U.S armed forces. This came to be after the National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law.

 Semper supra

Latin for “Always Above”, is the motto of the newest branch of the U.S armed forces.

Emblem of United States Space Force


Russia doesn’t have a dedicated Space Force per se. In 1 August 2015, a new branch of Russian armed forces the Aerospace Forces was created. This was done after merging the Air Force and Aerospace Defense Forces( created a few years back). With the merging of the two Russian armed forces branches , responsibilities of Air Force, Anti-air and Anti-missile defenses and Space Forces came under one unified branch. According to media reports, Aerospace Forces have been in action in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Emblem of the Russian Aerospace Forces


Just like the Russian armed forces , China also doesn’t have a separate Space Force branch. The People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force is the branch of PLA that was created in 2015. It is the one that undertakes these responsibilities with other separate matters. The branch came about as an overhaul and substantial reforms of its military. Motivation ,in part, to shift PLA capabilities from a focus on land-based territorial defense to extended power projection. To further the purpose of securing China’s strategic interests in space, cyberspace, and the far seas. It overlooks the tasks and operations regarding Space, Cyber , Electronic Warfare and etc.  

Emblem of the People’s Liberation Army
Strategic Support Force

India’s Position

India, with its ambitious space program, views space as a critical domain for both civilian and military purposes.

India’s position on matters related to space force development aligns with its commitment to peaceful use of outer space. However, like other nations, India acknowledges that developments in technology necessitate preparedness for potential conflicts or threats that may arise in this domain. While India does not have a dedicated Space Force like the USSF, it recognizes the growing importance of space in the military domain. India follows a “no-first-use” policy regarding nuclear weapons, and it similarly promotes the peaceful use of outer space. However, India acknowledges the dual-use nature of space technology and its significance for national security.

India has also been exploring its position regarding a space force. As a country with significant achievements in the field of space exploration and satellite technology, India recognizes the strategic importance of securing its interests in outer space. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been at the forefront of India’s efforts in this regard. India has a notable presence in space exploration and satellite technology. ISRO has achieved several milestones, including successful Mars and Moon missions.

Defence Space Agency

The establishment of the Defence Space Agency (DSA) reflects India’s recognition of the growing importance of space in national security. DSA was approved for by PM Modi on 28 September 2018. It was created as a tri – service agency. DSA serves all three branches and draws their personnel from all three branches of Indian armed forces. It becomes fully functional in November 2019. This was months after India successfully tested her first Anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) codenamed “Mission Shakti”.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully launched the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Interceptor missile, in an Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) missile test Mission Shakti engaging an Indian orbiting target satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in a ‘Hit to Kill’ mode from the Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Island, in Odisha on March 27, 2019.

The DSA works in coordination with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO) to ensure the protection of India’s space assets and their effective utilization for defense purposes.

The DSA’s primary objectives include:

  1. Enhancing Situational Awareness: The DSA monitors and tracks space activities in and around India’s region to enhance situational awareness and detect potential threats.
  2. Countering Adversarial Actions: DSA is prepared to respond to any hostile actions in space, ensuring the protection and integrity of its space assets.
  3. Satellite Communication Security: The DSA works on securing India’s satellite communication systems, ensuring reliable and secure communication channels for its defense forces.
  4. Space-Based Intelligence: Leveraging India’s space-based reconnaissance capabilities, the DSA gathers critical intelligence for defense and strategic planning.
  5. Collaborative Efforts: India has been actively engaging in international space collaborations and has signed agreements with various countries to promote space exploration and cooperation.

Also Read, Cyber-Space & India’s Cyber Force – DCyA


As space becomes more congested and contested, the establishment of dedicated Space Forces has become a trend among countries seeking to protect their space assets and assert their presence in the cosmos.

The establishment of Space Forces around the world signifies the increasing importance of space in national security and defense strategies. As countries continue to explore and expand their presence in space, ensuring the safety and security of space assets has become paramount. India’s Defence Space Agency is a clear indication of its commitment to space exploration and protection. In this dynamic and ever-changing domain, international cooperation and responsible space activities will be essential to foster peaceful exploration and maximize the potential benefits of space for all of humanity.

For India, while the primary focus remains on civilian space exploration, the acknowledgment of the dual-use nature of space technology and its potential for enhancing national security has led to increased attention on space defense capabilities. As the space domain continues to evolve, international cooperation, transparency, and responsible practices will be crucial in ensuring the peaceful and secure use of outer space for the benefit of all humankind.


While it can lead to strengthened space capabilities and national security, it also carries the potential for negative consequences, such as escalating tensions and the militarization of space. It is crucial for countries to approach the creation of a Space Force with transparency, responsible space practices, and a commitment to international cooperation to ensure the sustainable and peaceful use of space for the benefit of all humanity.

Although it offers potential benefits such as enhanced space capabilities and security, there are legitimate concerns regarding the weaponization of space and the potential for an arms race. Striking a balance between maintaining national security interests and promoting the peaceful and sustainable use of space remains a crucial challenge for the international community. Cooperation, transparency, and adherence to international space treaties will be essential in ensuring that space remains a domain of peaceful exploration and cooperation for the betterment of humanity.



A defence aspirant, preparing for the Indian Armed forces and on the path to discover more and more about India and the challenges it faces on her quest to better it's position in the world order.

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