This week, the US Senate decided to create the Space Corps as part of the national armed forces, which will be a separate branch of the military led by the US Air Force. On the one hand, from a change in the places of the terms, the sum does not change very much. On the other hand, it clearly shows how much the military understands the importance of space.
If there is war tomorrow?
What can Russia do against the US in space? At the moment there are about 15,000 objects in outer space. Of these, there are 1,402 satellites on the Russian side and 1,122 on the American side (the rest of the countries account for a total of another 1,500 satellites, and everything else is rocket stages, fairings and other junk).
The figure looks impressive, but it is worth determining how many of these satellites are military, how many are dual-purpose, and which of them can be used in the event of hostilities.
It is worth immediately determining what is not in space. There are no nuclear weapons in space, nuclear warhead spacecraft and missiles that can launch them into space and then strike from orbit.
There are none after the Treaty on the Prohibition of Tests of Nuclear Weapons in the Atmosphere, Outer Space and Under Water (also known as the Moscow Treaty) was signed in Moscow on August 5, 1963. The parties to the treaty were the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom, subsequently another 128 states joined to them.
- Outer space is open to exploration and use by all states without any discrimination.
- Outer space is not subject to national funding in any way.
- The principle of non-use of force or threat of force also extends to outer space.
- Not to carry out nuclear explosions in space, not to put into orbit around the Earth any objects with nuclear weapons or any other type of weapons of mass destruction, not to install such weapons on celestial bodies.
- It is forbidden to create military bases on celestial bodies, test all types of weapons and carry out military maneuvers.
- The State in whose registry an object is entered retains jurisdiction and control over such object while it is in space.
- A State bears international responsibility for damage caused by its objects in outer space to another State.
- States pledged not to interfere with other states’ national means of technical control.
- States pledged to ban military action in outer space.
Such a limitation hit hard against various projects that intended to use space. For example, the 1962 project – R-36orb (orbital) did not take place. He assumed the launch of the warhead of a ballistic missile into orbit. The warhead could stay there for a long time, so that at the right moment it could attack the enemy directly from space, gaining momentum.
Most of the satellites currently are communication satellites, reconnaissance satellites, as well as complexes that ensure the operation of satellite positioning systems – the American GPS and the Russian GLONASS. These systems are dual-use systems and were originally designed as military.
Count on first or second
The number of operational military spacecraft today refers to information that constitutes a state secret. No one will say the exact number, except the Secretary of Defense.
The only thing that cannot be hidden is the fact of the launch itself, so the coverage is as follows: “A dual-purpose satellite was launched from such and a spaceport at 11:00 p.m.” Point. In addition, there are international agreements according to which all space launches are announced and both sides do this, even if the characteristics of the spacecraft itself are not revealed.
If we count the number of accurate military objects in space, then the United States is currently far ahead of Russia. To date, the American space constellation has about 500 satellites. Every year, the US launches about 30 more satellites and spends up to $25 billion a year to maintain this wealth. Wikipedia.org
The most plausible purpose of this device is to test technologies for a future space interception device, which would allow the inspection of alien space objects and, if necessary, disable them by kinetic action. And this purpose of the device is fully consistent with the document “National Space Policy of the United States” of 2006, which proclaims the right of the United States to partially extend national sovereignty to outer space.
We unfortunately do not have such technology at the moment and are not expected to in the near future. It’s a shame that such a space plane, which can fly up to someone else’s satellite and warm it well with a space shovel, would be very useful.
One can remember the Russian projects Zvezda, Almaz and then Buran and Clipper, but unfortunately they have only remained in history.
In general, in the event of a global conflict, first of all, both sides will try to reduce the enemy’s satellite constellation to deprive him of his eyes and ears. And already here, all means will be equally good.
According to the declared characteristics, the Russian S-500 anti-aircraft missile system will be able to destroy low-orbit satellites and space weapons launched from hypersonic aircraft, attack hypersonic UAVs and orbital platforms. Accordingly, as early as 2020, a means of locating disabling satellites may be put into use with Russia. This is unlikely to confuse the cards for the Americans much, but it will undoubtedly make them nervous.
Most likely, in the event of a global war, both sides will try to destroy the maximum number of spacecraft by launching nuclear-armed missiles into near-Earth space. After that, you need to quickly launch satellites on a new one to ensure communication. However, I would like to hope that it will not be like this.