The central objective of this course is to introduce the rapidly growing importance of the field of space security. Among the questions raised early on will be how the security and defense policies of leading world powers influence outer space activities. The course will also probe why it is increasingly urgent to ensure the integrity, availability and reliability of space assets and access to them. The dual-use nature of space technologies (i.e. both for civilian and security/military applications), the explosion of private sector operators in space, Western defense requirements and the counterspace measures of global bad actors need to be better understood if civilian space activities are to prosper in the long term. It is also to address how Western supremacy in outer space activities involving security and defense is to be maintained (e.g. the use of satellite communications, Earth observation/meteorology, navigation, weather forecasting, environmental and climate change monitoring, disaster management, missile defense, early warning, space situational awareness, etc.).
Space assets are vulnerable and exposed to a multitude of hazards and threats. Such hazards include space weather, orbital debris and various technical issues (e.g. satellite malfunctions, unintentional interference, and inaccurate orbital prediction). Space debris is the main contributor to what is now often referred to as "congested space". There are also threats posed by the purposeful interference with, or even destruction of, satellites and spacecraft by different types of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons deployed by some space-faring states.
These kinds of natural and man-made perils are the basis for space security policies, together with the dynamic interplay between terrestrial and space security. This topic should make for lively student classroom discussions. Students will be provided with an overview of the space security portfolio. They will learn about the technologies enabling safe access to, and operations in, space, how to differentiate between natural and man-made threats from a policy perspective, and the profound geopolitical consequences of any deliberate degradation, disruption, or destruction of space systems and assets.
Students will understand the rather complex link between civilian and military space programs, the current international legal framework that governs space activities as well as gain a sense of the short- and medium-term objectives of select national space security communities in the West as well as those of Russia and China.