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For Heaven’s Sake – Examining the UK’s Militarisation of Space

December 13, 2022, By Dr. David Webb of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

I have been working on behalf of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) with Peter Burt from Dronewars UK on a new joint publication called “For Heaven’s Sake: Examining the UK’s Militarisation of Space”. It was launched in June and looks at the UK’s emerging military space programme and considers the governance, environmental, and ethical issues involved.

The UK’s space programme began in 1952 and the first UK satellite, Ariel 1, was launched in 1962. Black Arrow, a British rocket for launching satellites, was developed during the 1960s and was used for four launches from the Woomera Range Complexin Australia between 1969 and 1971. The final launch was to launch Prospero, the only British satellite to be placed in orbit using a UK rocket in 1971, although the government had by then cancelled the UK space programme. Blue Streak, the UK ballistic missile programme, had been cancelled in 1960andspace projects were considered too expensive to continue. 50 years on and things have changed.

Space is now big business – the commercial space sector has expanded and the cost of launches has decreased. The UK is now treating space as an area of serious interest. The government has also recognised that space is now crucial for military operations. So, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) now has a Space Directorate, which works closely with the UK Space Agency and is responsible for the military space policy and international coordination. UK Space Command, established in April 2021 ,is in charge of the military space programme and is closely linked with US Space Command and US Space Force. While the UK typically frames military developments as being for defensive purposes, they are also capable of offensive use………………………………………………………..

Although many of these launches may be for commercial companies, space use has evolved into a fuzzy military/commercial collaboration and Alexandra Stickings, a space policy and security analyst at the Royal United Services Institute in London, believes that the Shetland and Sutherland spaceports will need military contracts to be viable. She said “I am of the opinion that the proposed spaceports would need the MoD as a customer to survive as well as securing contracts with companies such as Lockheed” and the military will want to diversify their launch capabilitiesso the Scottish locations could provide an option for certain future missions.”  She also warned that: “There is also a possibility that if these sites become a reality, there will be pressure on the MoD to support them even if the cost is more than other providers.”………………………………..

Although many of these launches may be for commercial companies, space use has evolved into a fuzzy military/commercial collaboration and Alexandra Stickings, a space policy and security analyst at the Royal United Services Institute in London, believes that the Shetland and Sutherland spaceports will need military contracts to be viable. She said

“I am of the opinion that the proposed spaceports would need the MoD as a customer to survive as well as securing contracts with companies such as Lockheed” and the military will want to diversify their launch capabilitiesso the Scottish locations could provide an option for certain future missions.”  She also warned that: “There is also a possibility that if these sites become a reality, there will be pressure on the MoD to support them even if the cost is more than other providers.”…………………….

……………………  https://safetechinternational.org/for-heavens-sake-examining-the-uks-militarisation-of-space/

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December 14, 2022 - Posted by | space travel, UK

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