The United States is Prepping for Cyber Warfare in Space
Yep, you read that right. You can forget trying to decipher the who’s who of proxy armies on the ground (well maybe not, that’s kind of important too) because the new battleground between major world powers will now be taking place in space. So what the hell is going on?
Well, it seems like we’re extending our Cold War against Russia and China– in space. “We have very good surveillance and intelligence capabilities, so we can see the threats that are being built,” said General John Hyten, head of US Strategic Command. “So we’re developing capabilities to defend ourselves. It’s really that simple,” he told CNN. So what is he talking about? Is there a real threat? Should we be worried?
Hyten was referring to a satellite called Kosmos 2499 launched by Russia back in May– which anyone is completely able to track online anytime they please. As you can guess, this has led some amateur spectators to throw around some pretty profound speculations. And as you can guess, the United States thinks this might justify beefing-up military capabilities in space. Granted, the launch of the satellite went virtually unannounced by Russia. Unfortunately, speculations that label the satellite as a tool for cleaning space junk aren’t exactly headline-worthy.
CNN opens an article by describing a nightmarish scenario where an enemy (Russia or China) has completely disabled our satellites causing everything on Earth to completely shut down: GPS systems, airplanes, stock markets, bank transactions etc. Even I have to admit, it’s a pretty terrifying thought. But it makes a lot of sense considering one of our space defense advisers wrote a fictional book about space wars. CNN then goes on to describe Kosmos 2499 as a “Kamikaze satellite” with a “dizzying array of weapons seemingly borrowed from science fiction” but unfortunately, not much concrete evidence is offered to support this claim.
But even experts aren’t convinced the satellite holds a malicious purpose. I’m not saying it isn’t possible– I’m just saying no one is sure yet. “Whatever it is, looks experimental. It could have a number of functions, some civilian and some military.” says Patricia Lewis, research director at think-tank Chatham House and an expert in space security.
Even the experts have no idea what it’s for. None the less, this isn’t going to stop the United States from partaking in a perfectly good arms race in space. Back in April, (one month prior to Russia’s launch of Kosmos 2499) US Deputy Defense Secretary Richard Work announced “from the very beginning, if someone starts going after our space constellation, we’re going to go after the capabilities that would prevent them from doing that. Let me just say that — having the capability to shoot the torpedo would be a good thing to have in our quiver.”
Either way, any grudges on the ground are now officially extending into space in a way that is completely unprecedented. Want to know how this will play out? Track events on the ground in areas like Ukraine and Syria. Once you understand wars on the ground better, propaganda, cyber wars– and now space wars– make a lot more sense. “If there was conflict on Planet Earth, it would almost inherently start with some kind of conflict in space,” says Peter Singer. Singer advises the Defense Department on space threats and wrote a fictional book about a catastrophic space war.