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Crowded Orbits

Crowded Orbits: Conflict and Cooperation in Space

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Crowded Orbits
    Book Description:

    Space has become increasingly crowded since the end of the Cold War, with new countries, companies, and even private citizens operating satellites and becoming spacefarers. This book offers general readers a valuable primer on space policy from an international perspective. It examines the competing themes of space competition and cooperation while providing readers with an understanding of the basics of space technology, diplomacy, commerce, science, and military applications.

    The recent expansion of human space activity poses new challenges to existing treaties and other governance tools for space, increasing the likelihood of conflict over a diminishing pool of beneficial locations and resources close to Earth. Drawing on more than twenty years of experience in international space policy debates, James Clay Moltz examines possible avenues for cooperation among the growing pool of space actors, considering their shared interests in space traffic management, orbital debris control, division of the radio frequency spectrum, and the prevention of military conflict. Moltz concludes with policy recommendations for enhanced international collaboration in space situational awareness, scientific exploration, and restraining harmful military activities.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52817-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Law, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-10)

    Competing nations have thus far managed to avoid direct conflict in space. Given past battles over land territories, on the world’s oceans, and in the air, the record of humans in space since the first satellite launch in 1957 is impressive. But will countries be able to keep the peace as space becomes more crowded? This is a simple and yet very important question that requires greater attention.

    In the 1960s television programStar Trek,the countries of the world finally, by the twenty–second century, develop a cooperative organization for working together in space, the United Federation of Planets....

    (pp. 11-34)

    The analogy is fairly simple. Getting into space involves understanding the basic physics of propulsion and mastering a specific type of mechanical engineering. Although a self–taught Russian mathematician developed the “rocket equation” in the late 1800s and a lone American physicist first demonstrated the “piston” technology for a liquid-fuel rocket in the mid–1920s, early civilian efforts still lacked adequate financial support to reach space.

    If it were not for the fact that rockets can be used as ballistic missiles, space exploration might still be a dream. But the goal of Nazi Germany on the eve of World War...

    (pp. 35-58)

    Only a little more than a decade after the Wright brothers’ first airplane flight in 1903, militaries were shooting at each other from rickety wooden contraptions in the skies above Europe, killing one another and, occasionally, people on the ground. The lethal power of aircraft expanded exponentially during World War II, eventually leading to the dropping of two atomic bombs that killed more than 100,000 Japanese instantly. Despite many predictions of space war, however, such direct conflict has not taken place yet in orbit, more than fifty-five years after the first spaceflight. Whether this record can be extended and military...

  7. 3 CIVIL SPACE: Science and Exploration
    (pp. 59-90)

    Space exploration offers the potential for human beings to learn more aboutwhywe are here on Earth,wherethe building blocks of life might have come from, andwhatour future as a species might be. Understanding outer space better is also critical for beginning to open the option for people to live away from Earth on a permanent basis. Such a capability may be essential for human survival in case of the ruination of our planet by a man–made or natural disaster. In the popular 2008 movieWALL–E,for example, humans abandon Earth because of its...

    (pp. 91-120)

    Many readers were surprised in September 2012 when the Sunday Travel section of theNew York Timesdevoted its whole front page to a story under the bold headline “Out of This World! Space, the Ultimate Getaway.”¹ The author made the point that this was” “not science fiction” any longer, given the progress made by Virgin Galactic, XCOR Aerospace, Blue Origin, and other commercial space companies toward making private human spaceflight a reality. While the article recognized that the first customers would have to have considerable spare cash, it explained that—unlike Russia’s charge of $20 million and requirement of...

  9. 5 MILITARY SPACE: Expanded Uses and New Risks
    (pp. 121-146)

    Military purposes have been part of national pursuits in space since the beginning of space activity. Just as all countries undertake defensive activities on Earth, nations have sought to further their national security through the use of space assets. The fact that relatively few dedicated space weapons have been tested to date and even fewer deployed suggests either that the technology to deploy them efficiently has not yet been developed or that countries have chosen not to do so for political, strategic, or environmental reasons. Analysts are divided over which of these explanations is correct. But the answer matters to...

    (pp. 147-168)

    China’s 2007 anti-satellite (ASAT) test exploited a gray area in international space law. The Outer Space Treaty calls for prior notification of other countries in the case of activities that might cause “harmful interference” with the space programs of other countries.¹ Despite the ASAT test’s release of thousands of pieces of dangerous debris, no such consultations took place. Chinese officials likely assumed that since the Soviet Union had conducted some two dozen such tests from 1968 to 1982 and the United States had carried out one in 1985—also with no consultations—that China’s test would be able to slide...

    (pp. 169-194)

    The future of international relations in space poses a series of questions that remain difficult to answer. It was similarly hard to predict the future of U.S. relations with the Soviet Union in space in the late 1950s or even the early 1980s; most signs pointed to possible conflict or even warfare instead of the eventual détente that developed in the early 1970s or the close cooperation that emerged after the Soviet breakup in the early 1990s. The evolving status of U.S. space relations with China presents a complex subject for analysts. But this relationship will likely go a long...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 195-210)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 211-230)