Space Warfare: A New Warzone


Ever since the beginning, the idea of exploring space, finding new life forms, and even battling on different planets has been intriguing to everyone. However, in these days of exponential technological development, the question is whether the concept of war in zero gravity will seize to remain just a mere work of fiction or become a reality?


“Luke, I am your father.”- Darth Vader


Alien life has not only established itself as a plausible theory to a multitude of researchers but has also become fuel to the imagination of various creative thinkers, such as filmmakers, authors, game-developers etc. The mere thought of the existence of extra-terrestrial beings and combating them has formed a major fraction of the fictional world. However, what if it was not a green-faced, space ship flying creature that we fought? What if it was our own kind, extending our battlegrounds further away from our terrain, and into the vast expanse of the universe?

           However, unlike we have been led to believe, these combats would not involve the zapping of entire planets, or a bizarre-looking Jedi claiming to be our father. These wars, would, in fact, include satellites, ballistic missiles, zero-gravity firearms, and a plethora of unimaginable arms and ammunitions, and technological advancements (at least, what seems to be unimaginable to the common folk.) 

What is Space Warfare?


           Space warfare is any combat that takes place in space. It can be classified into three types:


  1. Space-to-space warfare

  2. Earth-to-space warfare

  3. Space-to-Earth warfare


SPACE-TO-SPACE WARFARE: 


This type of space warfare may include attack and defence between satellites in space.

Several countries are regularly improving their national space programs and technologies to cope with the advancements taking place. Of these, China, USA, and Russia are the leading nations to establish strong positions in the world. Although these advancements are economically and scientifically very rewarding for the country, any misuse of the satellites of a particular country with that of another could be potentially fatal for the nation on the receiving end. 


EARTH-TO-SPACE WARFARE:


This includes using missiles and other weapons to attack satellites. 

Most countries possess ASAT (anti-satellite) weapons that are capable of tracking and destroying space satellites. Although no country has as of yet shown its functioning in the form of a space war threat, several nations have targeted their own satellites to show their capabilities. 


SPACE-TO-EARTH WARFARE:


This form of space warfare consists of using satellites to attack targets that are based on Earth.

The possibility of a space laser-targeting a place on Earth is not only plausible in a James Bond movie. In recent years, countries like China, USA and Russia have achieved potential space lasers for the use of warfare. Several space weapons have been developed that are capable of targeting not only other satellites in space but also targets on Earth.


POTENTIAL SPACE WAR:


Ever since the cold war, the USA and the Soviet Union have been trying to develop better and better space technologies. Over the years, China has also proved a major contributor in this field. These technologies can have a severe impact on the nations, some of which can be harmful to a fatal extent.


The use of ASAT weapons by countries to fix other satellites can become a source of potential hacking and even the destruction of satellites of other countries. Their approach can almost go undetected. The hazards caused by this could be unimaginable due to the following reasons:

  1. Every country has most of its communications systems, traffic lights, etc. via their satellites. A sudden collapse of this would cause dreadful chaos.

  2. Since some countries have installed preventive weaponry and technology on their satellites, it would allow these resources to fall into the opposite party’s hands, resulting in irreparable damage. 

  3. Most countries’ military information is also present on the satellites. If that information is obtained by someone else, the future of the country would fall to a level where fatality would become almost certain.

  4. Data blockages can also take place, where the weapons can stop the obtaining and transformation of data, jeopardizing the country's resources.

Thus, we must take great precaution before advancing with such technologies. Even one small misstep can cause a domino of irreparable damage. Will space become the new warzone for this world? That is a question only the future can answer.


-Anushka Srivatsan