This is the first part of a series on contested space. It presents the context and the threats facing today’s reconnaissance satellites. Part II presents potential countermeasures.
After the launch of the first satellites by the USA and the USSR, questions arose about the political status of space: was it to be subject to territorial claims, like land? Or was to be regulated as the open seas? War being the continuation of politics by other means, strategists of the time started to think about war in space: if a satellite is in orbit and threatens a country, how can it be taken down? In the context of the Cold War, these were not idle questions. The main uses of space turned out to be crossing intercontinental distances with nuclear weapons, and overflying hostile countries. So the international norms regarding space were of paramount importance.
These questions were partly settled by…
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