Space warfare

Other Names:
Star wars

Space warfare is combat that takes place in outer space. The scope of space warfare therefore includes ground-to-space warfare, such as attacking satellites from the Earth, as well as space-to-space warfare, such as satellites attacking satellites.

In the early 1960s the U.S. military produced a film called Space and National Security which depicted space warfare.

From 1985 to 2002 there was a United States Space Command, which in 2002 merged with the United States Strategic Command, leaving Air Force Space Command as the primary American military space force. The Russian Space Force, established on August 10, 1992, which became an independent section of the Russian military on June 1, 2001, was replaced by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces starting December 1, 2011, but was reestablished as a component of the Russian Aerospace Forces on August 1, 2015.

Only a few incidents of space warfare have occurred in world history, and all involved training missions, as opposed to actions against real opposing forces. In 1985 a USAF pilot in an F-15 successfully shot down the P78-1, an American research satellite, in a 345-mile (555 km) orbit.

In 2007 China used a missile system to destroy one of its obsolete satellites (see 2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test), and in 2008 the United States similarly destroyed its malfunctioning satellite USA-193. As of 2018 there have been no human casualties resulting from conflict in space.

International treaties are in place that regulate conflicts in space and limit the installation of space weapon systems, especially nuclear weapons.


There is a clear plan to militarize space with US weapons, and to seek the ability to "deny others the use of space." It is laid out in the mission statements of the United States Space Command. The Space Command describes its role as "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investment and integrating Space Forces into This may be done through the relatively benign, small-scale defence system, called the National Missile Defense (NMD) project, of which the Space Command is the responsible agency. It foresees that "NMD will evolve into a mix of ground and space sensors and weapons." war-fighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict." To put the Space Command plans in place, the United States will have to abrogate, or ignore, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and probably the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well, while violating at least the spirit of the Outer Space Treaty and the Environmental Modification Techniques protocol.

Broader Problems:
Unconventional war
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
30.10.2017 – 19:02 CET