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Military contests in space not far off: Report

NEW YORK (BNS): Space may not remain a peace zone for too long, according to a study released here by the Council on Foreign Relations.

China's successful test of an anti-satellite weapon in 2007, and America's destruction of an out-of-control US satellite earlier this year demonstrated that space may no longer remain a relative sanctuary from military conflict.

"As the United States, China, and others increasingly benefit from the information that military and intelligence satellites provide, the temptation to attack these satellites provides troubling potential for instability and conflict in space that could dramatically affect US military capabilities on earth," the CFR said in a statement on the report.

The report, prepared by technology and security expert Bruce W MacDonald, "illuminates the strategic landscape of this new military space competition and highlights the dangers and opportunities the United States confronts in the space arena. He recognizes that advancing technology has likely made some degree of offensive space capability inevitable but calls on the United States to draw upon all instruments of US power, including a reinvigorated space diplomacy, to lead in establishing a more stable and secure space environment."

MacDonald is a senior director of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States.

"The risks inherent in space conflict, where vital US interests are at stake, suggest that preventing space conflict should be a major US security objective," the report says.

Focusing on China and India, the author says the US and China have to "pursue diplomatic options to increase clarity and minimize misunderstanding on space-related matters, and reduce the chances of accidental conflict."

MacDonald says that the China's People Liberation Army is preparing for a possible conflict in space. And the worst part is the outside world has very little idea of what PLA's perceptions of space war are.

His report says that both the US and China have "interests in avoiding the actual use of counter space weapons and shaping a more stable and secure space environment for themselves and other space faring nations."

The report calls on the American administration to update its policies for "an era where space is a potentially far more contested domain than in the past, with few rules."

Chinese have demonstrated their capability to destroy a satellite in January 2007. Earlier this year, the US destroyed an old American satellite saying it was out of control, but many believe that it was part of the Pentagon's updating and demonstration of its destructive capabilities in space. In the 80s, both the US and Soviet Union have demonstrated their abilities to stage a war in space.

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