When the Space Age first began in the 1950s, one of the cardinal principles behind it was that space should be used for peaceful purposes, and not become a new battleground. That was one of the main reasons that NASA was established, so that it, a civilian agency, and not a branch of the military would be responsible for guiding the space exploration efforts of the United States. This was followed up by other actions, such as the international agreement in 1968 that space should be kept free of weapons such as orbital bombs. This effort to keep space for peaceful purposes such as scientific research soon unfortunately began to fade, and with such thing as Ronald Reagan's Star Wars program suffered a near-fatal blow. Events since then have left no doubt that this country, as well as others, now view outer space as indeed nothing but a battlefield.
The X-37B spacecraft, which was launched last December 11th atop an Atlas V booster (see photo), will soon celebrate it's one-year anniversary in orbit, and is perhaps the most ominous of these recent developments. Looking like a smaller version of the Space Shuttle, except for being unmanned, it has been on a secret mission for the U.S. Air Force. No one knows what it's mission actually is, whether intelligence, to test new weapons in space, or whatever else.
The United States is moving toward the militarization of space and this will change the face of war in the near future, an academician with the Russian Academy of Engineering Sciences has warned.
Judging by recent developments, the idea of formidable space weapons prowling the last frontier is no longer limited to the realm of science fiction.
The US has published tactical guidelines over the past three years on the use of force in outer space, while systems that may be used as orbiting weapons are undergoing rigorous test flights, said Yuri Zaitsev, Academic Advisor with the Russian Academy of Engineering Sciences.
In a security document released in October, the US Department of Defense (DoD) said that its space-related activities are designed to “maintain and enhance the national security advantages afforded by the use of outer space.”
Among its numerous stated objectives, the DoD report said it is US policy to “proactively seek opportunities to cooperate with allies and selected international partners in developing space architectures and in designing, acquiring, and operating military space systems.”
Zaitsev said that America’s push to militarize space may include the use of both nuclear and conventional weapons, which could have dangerous and dramatic implications for future warfare
During this year’s UN General Assembly, the US conspicuously refused to support a resolution to halt the militarization of space.
Washington’s refusal to cede control of space likely stems from its increasing reliance on space-based systems: An estimated 90 percent of the US Military reportedly uses or depends on space-based systems. What makes this particularly ominous is the fact that no one, not even Congress, knows the true nature and extent of these activities. In that sense, it is very much like the spying that was recently revealed by the NSA.
While it is true that the United States is not the only country seeking to use outer space for military purposes, it is by far the most egregious. The only way this can be stopped is if the American people speak up and demand it.