Space becomes a battlefield: The US is facing a “new era” of threats beyond the Earth

At the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, US Space Force General Chance Saltzman presented his report on strengthening national security. His message was simple: The US is in a new era of threats off the Earth. 

U.S. Space Force General Chance Saltzman, Head of the Space Operations Division during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Photo: Air Force

“The threats that we face to our on-orbit capabilities from our strategic competitors [have] grown substantially,” said Chance Saltzman, the second–ever chief of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Operations Division. 

His speech has taken place at a time when space is rapidly being commercialized, and threats spreading into space are increasingly felt from geopolitical exacerbations – in an area for which the rules of engagement remain unclear. 

Military experts say space is likely to become a front line in future conflicts – a battlefield that can spread to the private sector and affect the civilian population. Saltzman says that the space tactics of adversaries such as Russia and China cover the whole gamut of potential threats, ranging from jamming the GPS system and lasers and “blinding” cameras in orbit to prevent information gathering to anti-satellite missiles, similar to the one that Russia tested at the end of 2021. An unprecedented cyberattack on the European communications network of the US satellite operator Viasat is also mentioned as a new example.

In order to respond faster to new threats, Saltzman plans to improve the military satellite fleet, make it more resistant to attacks and attract more commercial space players to the defense potential. As an example, the US Space Force recently announced a strategy for purchasing additional launch services. The new approach is designed to create more opportunities for space startups to compete for national security contracts.

Contracts to strengthen national security for 2024 will be increased by 15% and are estimated at USD 30 billion. It is expected that companies such as Rocket Lab, Relativity Space, Blue Origin, SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, as well as a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing will be involved to strengthen the country’s defense.

Earlier, we reported on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increased the requirements for cybersecurity.

According to CNBC

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