Outer Space Security

The relevance of space to human existence is self-evident, and increasingly so. Communications, meteorology, Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies, each of these critical sectors’ reliance on space technology is so profound that only a few hours of space-based asset disruption would melt down financial markets, cause billions of dollars in losses, and endanger human life (notably in the field of civilian aviation and military operations).

Today’s streamlined and interconnected world, dependent as it is on these space assets, would not be possible without a sustainable use of outer space. Yet outer space is becoming increasingly congested and contested, creating numerous insecurities.

Outer space must be kept secure as a global commons for all of humanity. This involves pro-actively dealing with issues such as space debris and the weaponisation of space. At the same time, this development must be reconciled with the reality that the security of a state’s space interests is vital to its national interests. In recent years, space weaponisation has escalated and caused tensions to flare between countries. Despite these inordinately high stakes, international law continues to neglect the regulation of dangerous gaps in space law.

The goal of the peaceful use of outer space, announced in the Preamble of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, is challenged daily by the realities of increased geopolitical competition and the absence of binding rules on militarisation. The cluster on outer space security at the GCSP looks into the security issues related to outer space: space debris, weaponisation in space, international law and governance and the role of international organisations such as the United Nations and regional bodies.

CLUSTER RESPONSIBLE

Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan
Prof. Nayef Al-Rodhan
Head of the Geopolitics and Global Futures Programme

Related experts

Mr Ben Baseley-Walker
former Programme Lead of the Emerging Security Threats Programme (EST), United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan
Prof. Nayef Al-Rodhan
Head of the Geopolitics and Global Futures Programme