The militarization of space: separating the hype from the real risks

A Chinese rocket with two satellites on board lifts off
April 30, 2019: A rocket with two satellites on board lifts off from the Taiyuan Launch Center. Chinese satellite technology has made great strides in recent years (source: dpa)
  • As great-power rivalry moves into space, costs are skyrocketing
  • Sustaining the advanced research required to develop weapons will be key
  • Russia’s bravado suggests it may have trouble, while the Chinese remain quiet
  • The U.S. may be escalating the race to try and outspend its less-rich adversaries

In December 2018, President Donald Trump announced the formation of a sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces – the Space Command. Rumors that he would do so had abounded for some time, so it was not a major surprise. Nor is it clear that the decision will have much of an impact outside bureaucratic turf wars. After all, the U.S. first introduced the Space Command back in 1985; it was disbanded and transferred to the Strategic Command in 2002. President Trump’s decision to revive it is more of a political move than a serious military development. Unsurprisingly, however, it has provoked angry reactions from the Kremlin.

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