Space Security

Space isn’t weaponized—yet. Our physicists and security experts weigh the risks of space-related security issues.


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Sputnik Revisited

, China project manager and senior analyst

Fifty-nine years ago today, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into orbit, setting off a panic in the United States that contributed to the evolution of a “space race” between the two superpowers.

Last week, Congress held a hearing on the question of whether the United States was losing a new space race with China. Unfortunately, the witnesses seemed more interested in re-creating the alarmism of the Sputnik era than in offering Congress an accurate picture of the Chinese space program. This raises doubts about the value of the hearing’s contribution to congressional perspectives on US-China relations in space. Read more >

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The United States, China, and Anti-Satellite Weapons

, China project manager and senior analyst

Many US observers believe anti-satellite (ASAT) attacks could be China’s trump card in a major military confrontation with the United States. But the reality may be exactly the opposite. The United States could have more to gain, and China more to lose, from taking the fight to outer space. A US presidential decision to pursue this advantage would make the United States, not China, the protagonist in a new space arms race that would undermine the security of both nations. Read more >

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Russian Rocket Body Seen as a Streak over Arizona

, co-director and senior scientist

A fireball seen in the sky over the western U.S. got a lot of press attention today, with people wondering what it was and whether it was a threat.

The U.S. military, which tracks objects in space, said that it was caused by the reentry into the atmosphere of the empty stage of a Russian SL-4 rocket body, which apparently had been launched a day earlier. Read more >

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Space-based missile defense. Again?

, senior scientist

The concept of zombies, coopted and corrupted as it has been over time, seems to follow the cultural moment. Apparently, the idea of a creature that persistently gets up after it’s good and knocked down really resonates with Americans. (I agree with the commentators who suggest we have reached “peak zombie.”) Clearly, however, Congress is not on the cultural vanguard, and seems not to have gotten the message that we are all set with the undead. Read more >

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U.S. and China Talk Civil Space Cooperation

, senior scientist

With little fanfare beyond a State Department press release, the United States on Monday began bilateral discussions with China on civil space cooperation.

You would be forgiven for not thinking that’s remarkable, since the United States and China are the two biggest space players. Why wouldn’t they be talking at a high level about space debris, how to avoid satellite collisions, and ways to collaborate on space science or coordinate weather observations?

But in fact, it has been extraordinarily difficult to get this to happen and it deserves a bit of applause. Read more >

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