Hello defence lovers! In this article, we are going to discuss a very interesting topic. Is space becoming the new battlegrounds for the aspiring superpowers? Are we going to witness another space race? Are the leading powers developing their own space forces? We will discuss all these questions in this article- Space: The new battleground.
USA and USSR’s Rivalry: The Space Race
Half a century ago, the Superpowers of the world got engaged in a race that changed our world forever. Yes, we are talking about the space race. With this race, Mankind reached places beyond the earth. We conquered space, stepped on the Moon, sent rovers on Mars, and sent probes beyond the limits of the Solar system.
From that very time, militarisation of space of a prominent idea. Both the USA and USSR conducted various military activities in space which are kept classified even today. Looking at NASA’s space shuttle’s tremendous military application, the USSR went one step ahead to develop their own Space shuttle called Buran exclusively for matching the military capabilities of the Space shuttle.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, this rivalry also ended. All the prominent countries decided to follow a united approach, which led to the construction of the International Space Station (ISS). But things are changing rapidly in the 21st Century.
Satellites: The Lucrative Targets
In today’s era, satellites play a very crucial role in our lives. We are totally dependent upon systems like GPS, GLONASS, Navic, etc for navigation. All our communication systems are dependent upon communication satellites. Satellites play a vital role in modern militaries as well. Imaging satellites provide crucial intelligence on targets. Spy satellites keep eye on the enemies. Navigation satellites guide ordinances to their targets, and communication satellites help in communicating with the troops and assets posted in the most remote areas on Earth.
So in case of a conflict, these satellites become lucrative targets for the enemy as taking down these satellites will make the enemy deaf and blind. Thus protecting the satellites along with attacking the enemy’s satellite will become a part of future combat.
Now for attacking satellites, there are two methods which are the hard-kill method and the soft kill method. In the hard-kill method, physical weapons such as kinetic penetrators are used which does physical damage to the target. On the other hand in soft kill methods, the software, the processors, and circuits onboard the satellites are damaged which renders the satellite useless without any physical damage.
Space Stations: Important Military Assets In Space
A space station is a structure in outer space that revolves around the Earth’s orbit which houses Astronauts, Cosmonauts, and travelers from other countries. In these space stations, various scientific experiments are conducted. These experiments help us to understand how life behaves in conditions like zero gravity and whether it can be successful beyond earth. Over the past few years, the importance of space stations has become very important. many countries are planning to build their own space stations. One of the main reasons behind these aspirations is developing space weapons.
Space stations are very important platforms to test weapons. Weapons can be tested in space in complete secrecy. The possibilities and types of these weapons are limitless. But the considering the current technological feasibility, directed energy weapons to target satellites seem to be the most obvious ones.
Presently The International Space Station is the only platform where small-scale weapons can be tested. However, as the ISS is a joint venture between many countries, testing weapons on the ISS is just not possible. Thus many countries are planning to build their own space stations to conduct these tests.
According to reports Russia is planning to leave the ISS and build its own space station. The growing US-Russia could be one of the reasons behind it. Russia was the largest and most important country under the Soviet Union. A few decades ago Soviet Union used to operate a space station called “Mir”. Now Russia is planning to construct a similar space station that could be used for military applications.
China is also geared up to build its first space station called Tiangong. The first module of this is scheduled to be launched this year. This would be deployed in the Low Earth Orbit. However, the launching vehicle poses a greater threat to people on earth rather than the technologies that would be developed in this space station, as we saw how the uncontrolled Chinese rocket just missed the Maldives. After all Chinese technology is not at all reliable.
Indian Space Programme
India has one of the most efficient space programs in the world. With a limited Indian space agency, ISRO has done wonders. India has already tested its anti-satellite weapon – the ASAT missile under the mission shakti. India has high-power lasers known as the KALI to deal with incoming space threats. However, there is very little information available in the public domain on KALI.
India also plans to build its own space station just like Russia and China. Unlike other Indian organizations, ISRO always sticks to its deadlines. If everything goes well, ISRO would launch and complete its space station before 2030.
Looking at all these trends we can say Space is going to be the next battleground for the dominance of the Superpowers of the world.