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Outer Space Arms Control

The Hill newspaper published an article on “How to avoid a space arms race” by several authors, including Bill Courtney, with whom I used to work at the State Department. 

The article reports that Putin has proposed an agreement to prohibit the stationing of weapons in space and the threat or use of force against space objects, but that there is nothing new in Putin’s proposal  Despite the Outer Space Treaty, which bans stationing weapons of mass destruction in orbit, Russia, China, and the US are all concerned about the possibility of warfare in space.  They all use space assets for gathering intelligence, for communications, for GPS location services, for monitoring weather, land use, etc.  These assets are potentially threatened by activities that are on their face peaceful, such as servicing old satellites.  If you can maneuver close to a satellite, you can probably destroy it.

A new space arms control agreement will be difficult, but the increasing importance of space for commercial and military purposes makes it more desirable as time goes on. 

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