During the Cold War, Americans looked to the heavens and grappled with near-existential questions about our country’s pursuit of technical superiority over its primary foe, the Soviet Union. The emerging space domain was, to use the phrase later popularized by the Star Trek series, the final frontier. The Soviet Sputnik satellite launch in 1957 jolted the American political consciousness and dented a sense of inevitable technological advantage in the post-war world. Space quickly became the high ground, militarily, technologically and morally speaking, for the United States to take back.
Space remains the strategic high ground. After more than a decade of war in the Middle East and Central Asia it is important to acknowledge the direct tactical connections to America’s armed forces. As remotely piloted aircraft become a staple of U.S. military and intelligence operations, their links to pilots thousands of miles away depend on satellite technology. That is just another indicator that as America navigates a post-war period, U.S. power cannot be measured in the 21st Century without accounting for the safety and security of our military space access.
The U.S. is not alone in seeing the importance of space in its national narrative. China’s President Xi Jinping reportedly told air force officers that he wants the People’s Liberation Army to have a more robust space role. Read more at the American Security Project’s Flashpoint blog.