A couple of articles in this week’s issue of The Space Review focus on some cutting-edge issues in military space policy. Matthew Hoey takes an extensive look at the latest developments in space technology, including small satellites and responsive launch, and wonders if this is the first step towards anti-satellite weapons and other space weaponry. Hoey believes that would be an unsettling development: “Many people believe that a deployed anti-satellite capability and an ability to attack targets on or near the Earth’s surface from space would create a global climate of insecurity both by enhancing current risks and by creating new problems.” However, given the reliance of the US military on space systems, and the growing capabilities of other countries in space technologies, including those discussed in Hoey’s article, there has been strong motivation in some quarters for at least a “defensive counterspace” capability to defend space assets. How realistic such capabilities are in the near to medium term, and how likely such systems could be developed into offensive systems, is a subject of considerable debate.
Meanwhile, Taylor Dinerman argues that the US would be best served by transferring most space systems into a separate “US Space Force”, a new military service. Such a service “will insure that when the Joint Chiefs and their civilian superiors meet to plan an operation, someone with four stars will be there to make sure that the capabilities and limitations of US and enemy space forces are taken into account.” This has come up from time to time, but there have been few champions of such a move either in the Pentagon on in Congress, particularly after Sen. Bob Smith, the biggest proponent of a separate space force, left the Senate after the 2002 election. Also unclear is how such a move would solve the severe procurement problems Air Force space programs have suffered in recent years, which, as Wayne Eleazer argued in a TSR article last week, have deep roots.