America risks total chaos in a space war with China and Russia

Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

A growing number of companies are trying to get into the space defense business – but a major conflict of interest could be on the horizon.

One such company, True Anomaly, is using artificial intelligence to pilot small satellites that will be able to detect spy satellites belonging to adversaries such as China and Russia. In October, True Anomaly – which is backed by Narya, US Senator JD Vance’s venture capital firm – plans to launch two vehicles for the US Space Force on a rocket from Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Companies like True Anomaly have raised concerns about whether the increasingly militarized frontiers of space should be privatized in the same way Musk is turning civilian space travel into commercial ventures. While private industry can launch high-tech satellites cheaper and faster than the government, some experts say commercial space defense has its downsides.

“Outsourcing makes it much more difficult to ensure that the overriding security interests of military operations can be adequately protected,” Frans G. von der Dunk, a professor of space law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told The Daily Beast. “The private sector is focused on maximizing commercial gain and may inadvertently or even knowingly forego the security risks posed by a private sector company deciding who it serves. Military activities should be carried out to protect the general interests of a people, a state or a group of people related to security, not to make money for investors and entrepreneurs.”

Even Rogers, one of the founders of True Anomaly, said the company could offer space defense technologies that are more effective than current military systems. The company builds satellites that can approach the satellites of potential enemies and find information about them or intercept communications.

Moscow could be preparing for space war with aggressive new satellites

“True Anomaly is building technology that contributes to the stability of space in the environment by deploying systems designed to gather intelligence about commercial and adversary space capabilities,” said Rogers, a former US Air Force major who is responsible for the Orbital Warfare Doctrine developed for the US Space Force, The Daily Beast said. “This information reduces the likelihood of misjudgements and escalations and helps the US government make more accurate investments.”

True Anomaly is just one of many space defense companies. In the US, major defense companies such as Lockheed, Northrop, L3-Harris, Raytheon, and many smaller companies including Blue Canyon and Maxar compete for defense dollars.

Rogers predicted that the space defense industry could grow “exponentially” over the next decade, reaching a trillion-dollar global market size by 2040.

“Currently, most of True Anomaly’s technologies are aimed at the defense sector,” he added. “However, as launch costs continue to decrease and space technologies evolve in line with the opportunities afforded by cost reduction, safety complexities and dilemmas will increase as a result.”

The nimble private sector can offer real advantages over clumsy government bureaucracy. Svetla Ben-Itzhak, an assistant professor of space and international relations at the US Air Force’s Air War College, told The Daily Beast that privatizing space defenses is likely to improve efficiency and encourage innovation. She pointed to the success of SpaceX, a private company that contracts with NASA and other federal agencies to develop, manufacture and launch satellites, cargo and rockets into orbit.

“On the other hand, space defense privatization may result in a loss of some level of direct control,” added Ben-Itzhak. “As private entities become the middleman between command centers and mission outcomes, the freedom to manoeuvre, monitor and direct may become more restricted. Delegating space operations, processes and facilities to the private sector is likely to result in a loss of control over resources and people: a process that can eventually take on a life of its own and lead to unintended mission outcomes.”

With a record year for both civilian and military space launches in 2022, observers are noting that increased competition among space companies has its downsides. The US government is competing for launch space with companies that put private satellites into orbit.

“If you have a company that makes money putting payloads into space, what is the priority of deploying a particular government payload when you have other things that might be more lucrative?” Michael C. Desch, a space industry expert and Packey J. Dee Professor of International Relations at the University of Notre Dame, told The Daily Beast. “And how do you do that? Does the government pay a premium to have to queue for the next location? Things are being delayed and I’m not sure that’s fully thought through as we increasingly rely on the private sector to increase capacity.”

The Rat Race

The market for space defense companies is booming. Iain Boyd, the director of the Center for National Security Initiatives at the University of Colorado, said that as private space companies proliferate, it’s likely that militaries around the world will increase the use of commercial services for a wide range of activities, including various ones Types of images and communication.

“This will also motivate companies to design and implement more sophisticated and powerful systems,” he told The Daily Beast.

But the line between military and private satellites is blurring. Ukraine, for example, uses Elon Musk’s network of Starlink communications satellites in its war with Russia. Boyd said private satellites could be a valid military target.

“This question already arises for companies that provide Ukraine with images of the Russian conflict,” he added. “For Russia, it is a difficult decision to attack a private satellite that provides information to the public around the world and the militaries of some countries.”

Business for the space defense industry is so good that companies are trying to expand beyond the US government as customers. Aaron Bateman, a faculty member at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, told The Daily Beast that some companies use satellites to detect radio signals around the world. The information gathered by the satellites can be sold to almost anyone willing to pay the price.

How Elon Musk slammed Jeff Bezos in the billionaire space race

“So you’re basically doing signals intelligence from space,” Bateman added. “Now there are a limited number of organizations that have these capabilities, but in the future you could see a proliferation of space-based intelligence capabilities that could be harnessed by a variety of nefarious actors.”

So far, the space defense industry has mainly focused on passive activities such as satellite reconnaissance. But space weapons that target satellites could quickly become an option as in-orbit competition intensifies with potential adversaries like China and Russia.

“While we can hope we won’t see aggressive military action in the space arena, Russia’s most recent anti-satellite test in November 2021 — and the increase in the tide of protesters for rendezvous and proximity capabilities — suggest nations are poised to test the borders.” of ‘peaceful purpose,'” Michelle LD Hanlon, co-director of the Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi Law School, told The Daily Beast. “That there might be an international market for space weapons is not the most hopeful sign, but it is not a doomsday indicator either.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast’s biggest news and scandals straight to your inbox. Join Now.

Stay connected and get unlimited access to the Daily Beast’s unmatched coverage. subscribe now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *