Donald Trump announced his intention to create a “space force” that would become the sixth branch of the U.S. military, CSIS space expert Todd Harrison joins the show to discuss whether that plan will get off the ground.
Go behind the scenes with the authors of “Space Threat Assessment 2018.” They’re joined by the Secure World Foundation’s Victoria Samson and Brian Weeden to discuss what it’s like to study counterspace weapons—an inherently classified topic—in an unclassified environment.
“We’re getting very big in space,” says the US president. What would a new branch of the military do?
Arguably the fastest rising power in space, China has made rapid progress in developing both its space and counterspace capabilities. The country has tested direct-ascent ASAT weapons, on-orbit robotics, and remote proximity operations. Reports indicate that China is also developing and testing directed-energy and jamming technologies.
Russia’s space and counterspace capabilities suffered after the fall of the Soviet Union, but it has since made significant progress rebuilding both programs.
Our adversaries and potential adversaries have noted the significant advantages of space superiority and have moved aggressively to field forces that can challenge our space capabilities from the ground, in space, and through cyberspace. Urgent action is needed.
While North Korea’s space and counterspace capabilities are limited, it has made substantial progress developing its missile, jamming, and cyber capabilities. North Korea’s missile technology clearly aligns with its strive to become a nuclear power; its jamming and cyberattack capabilities tend to be more accessible and lower-tech than some counterspace weapons.
Iran’s pursuit of space and counterspace capabilities is a more recent development and is tied in many ways to its ballistic missile programs. However, Iran has previously used advanced jamming against commercial satellites and are reportedly further developing their cyber capabilities, as well.
Other actors, including allies, adversaries, and non-state, are developing or using counterspace weapons.
Space Threat Assessment 2018 evaluates open-source information on counterspace activities of adversaries, allies, and non-state actors. Counterspace weapon development from some adversaries is of serious concern and require immediate attention from policymakers.