Space oddities

Law, war and the proliferation of spacepower

Authored by: Bleddyn Bowen

Routledge Handbook of War, Law and Technology

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138084551
eBook ISBN: 9781315111759
Adobe ISBN:


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The twenty-first century is witnessing the vertical and horizontal proliferation of spacepower. With more states developing satellite and space infrastructure, more lucrative targets are being deployed in orbit. Space technology has become integral for tactical and operational military capabilities, not only in the US military. The development of space weapons based on Earth has potential consequences for nuclear stability as some tactically relevant satellites are also responsible for providing a warning of nuclear attack. Yet this reality of spacepower’s proliferation is unaddressed in the two major legal initiatives in global space governance due to their foundation in a misplaced hostility towards the ‘militarisation’ of space and to a fear of a false jeopardy from ‘space weaponisation’. The reality of spacepower’s relevance for war and peace on Earth clashes with popular conceptions of states pursuing space technology in the name of peaceful exploration which are simply not supported by historical facts. 1

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