The increase of power through space ·School of Economic War (Ecole de guerre Economique)
By amk, 05/06/2022

The increase of power through space ·School of Economic War (Ecole de guerre Economique)

As on April 12th every year, Gagarin's mission is celebrated with great pride throughout Russia. Mais cette année, le soixantième anniversaire de cette grande victoire de l’URSS dans la course à l’espace qui l’opposait aux États-Unis n’a laissé aucuns doutes sur les difficultés du secteur spatial russe, entaché par la corruption et en manque d’innovation fautes de financements suffisants. Last year, it lost its monopoly on manned flights to the International Space Station, where every seat on its fabled Soyuz rocket was charged millions of dollars by Roscosmos to other agencies. The competition for Elon Musk's company, Space X, ends Russia's leadership in space flight and symbolizes the new impetus for space conquest: New space.

The emergence of new space

During the Cold War, the old space was dominated by the United States and the Soviet Union, two competing geostrategic and military superpowers. Le Japon et l’Europe ont contribué à l’exploration spatiale grâce aux importants investissements dans le secteur spatial durant les Trente Glorieuses, bien qu’ils aient joué un rôle secondaire derrière les deux géants. With the gradual victory of liberal ideology and the acceleration of globalization, new countries have entered the space market, such as Israel, Iran, South Korea, India and especially China. However, the arrival of these new entrants has not changed the old spatial market model with state monopoly as the only actor and scientific exploration as the only interest.

The transformation from old space to new space is the result of three phenomena: Open space to new, mainly private actors, open space to new areas of application, including the military, and pursue new goals, including financial ones. Therefore, new space can be defined as privatization and reducing the cost of entering space. In the final analysis, this is the development of aerospace industry.

NASA benefits from digital innovation by establishing partnerships with California high-tech companies. Therefore, spatial data integrates big data and becomes the core of new spatial economic activities. By using it for a wide range of commercial applications and services, investment can be profitable. For now, the government is still an important customer, but when private commercial companies like Space X no longer rely on funds from public agencies such as NASA and rely entirely on private funds, the growth of the space market will be independent of the state.

Conquest on an increasing scale

Satellite miniaturization is one of the main growth drivers of this new business, enabling new participants to obtain competitive satellite launch and orbit launch costs. In that regard, the current existence in outer space of a huge constellation of tens of thousands of satellites, the most symbolic of which is the StarLink project, which aims to cover the entire Earth in order to provide Internet access to all regions, even those with the least ground-based antennas. The effect of this policy to reduce the cost of access to space is that the number of actors competing for commercial development of space in order to gain market share has multiplied. This innovation center is the foundation of a new industry that will fund scientific exploration of Mars and deep space, mining of the moon and asteroids, and suborbital tourism.

Despite the emergence of a new era of conquering space, accompanied by Homeric imagination of the universe, what is the conclusion that geostrategic competition extends from Earth to space with the emergence of new space?

American Attack on International Space Law

The environment of contemporary society is very dynamic. In the case of abundant information, the technology that can process information quickly creates value. However, what is better than an algorithm than a human analyst? Uber doesn't have a taxi in the world, and Airbnb doesn't have real estate. These companies have completely reshaped the business model of traditional industries. What do they have in common? They are Americans. It is no accident, therefore, that it is in the United States that the new space has emerged, and that it is this country that is trying to impose its own legal vision on the rest of the world to regulate the development of space resources directly related to the new space. It is the main source of geopolitical competition.

In 1967, most countries, including the major space-faring countries at that time, ratified the Outer Space Treaty, laying a legal foundation for the peaceful exploration and use of outer space. It establishes the basic principle of freedom of access for states to outer space, in which no state can occupy outer space, and that freedom can only be expressed within a peaceful framework, prohibiting any form of war or territorial plunder in outer space.

Alors que toute forme d’appropriation des corps célestes est prohibée par le traité, l’exploitation commerciale et industrielle de leurs ressources naturelles semblent pour autant aller contre ce principe.

The Moon Agreement, signed at the United Nations in 1979, expanded that notion of ownership by declaring the legal status of the Moon nullified, meaning that no one owned it, as was the case with the high seas or Antarctica outside the territory. De plus, les États s’engagent à établir « un régime international régissant l’exploitation des ressources naturelles de la Lune (et des autres corps célestes) lorsque cette exploitation sera sur le point de devenir possible », devant notamment permettre une « répartition équitable entre tous les États parties des avantages qui résulteront de ces ressources, une attention spéciale étant accordée aux intérêts et aux besoins des pays en développement ». As Julien Mariez, head of the legal department of the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), explains, the quasi-collectivist tendency of the second agreement has greatly damaged the acceptance of the agreement by the international community, especially the United States: Currently, only 18 states are signatories to the 1979 Agreement, none of which are space Powers.

Resource issues before seeking ownership

The prospect of exploiting space resources has been accompanied by the emergence of new space in the United States in the 2010s, from the creation of private companies such as Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries to the spread of the report, a think tank that supports private property in space.

The U.S. Space Act, passed in 2015, allows U.S. citizens involved in developing space resources to recycle, own, transport, use and sell those resources. Julien Mariez went on to say that the United States did not believe that this activity violated the principle of non-possession of the Outer Space Treaty, because its nationals did not possess the celestial bodies themselves, but only their resources, once they were exploited.

So NASA spent $1 billion on the OSIRIS-REX program to launch a space probe in 2016 that will bring samples of the asteroid Benou back to Earth in 2023.

L’accroissement de puissance par l’espace | Ecole de Guerre Economique

However, the Outer Space Treaty does not seem appropriate to determine whether the principle of non-possession of celestial bodies permits possession of its resources, since this issue did not arise at the time of drafting and now leaves a legal gap that can be freely interpreted.

While Luxembourg in 2017 and the United Arab Emirates in 2020 passed legislation with similar positions to the United States, the United Nations commission responsible for this legal issue does not have a mandate to develop and implement an international normative framework. Not surprisingly, Russia condemns the initiatives of the United States to unilaterally regulate the activities of the space industry, although those initiatives have been strengthened by the paralysis of the European Union, which has been unable to reach consensus on the establishment of a working group on this issue.

On April 6, 2020, an executive order reaffirmed the rights of American citizens as expressed in the Space Act of 2015. In October of the same year, the African Real-Time Environmental Monitoring Information System Agreement was signed, giving the United States position international legal effect, thanks to the affiliated countries.

Therefore, the management of space activities on celestial bodies seems to be formalizing around international standards developed around the vision of the United States. The failure of UN multilateralism on the African Real-Time Environmental Monitoring Information System agreement has provoked the outrage of Director-General Roscosmos, who compared the initiative to a military invasion by the IAK or Afghanistan.

The United States is laying out a chessboard, and one of the main pieces is the African Real-time Environmental Monitoring Information System program, which aims to return humans to the moon by 2024. As a mandatory step before conquering Mars, the plan openly assumes that only the natural resources of the moon and Mars can be used to permanently settle there. In addition, the construction of the lunar lander as part of the program sparked fierce competition in the summer of 2021 after NASA refused to sign contracts with Blue Origin and Dynetic in favor of Space X. This program is completely in line with the logic of NASA's public-private partnership with many new participants in New Space, where big data is one of the main levers of action.

Sino-Russian counterattack

The three historic space agencies established since the end of the Second World War do not have the same ambition and means. Roscosmos and ESA, with funding of 5.5 billion euros (2014) and 6.68 billion euros (2020) respectively, cannot enjoy the same operational diversity as NASA's $22.6 billion (2020). India has a space budget of 1 billion euros (2016), has three launch vehicle models and has been putting its own-made satellites into orbit since the early 2000s. At present, only a limited club of 11 space powers is expanding.

But China is a major U.S. competitor, and the OECD estimates its space budget for 2020 at $8.3 billion. Its latest version of the Long March launch vehicle (Chang Zeng in Chinese) can be reused to compete with the innovation of Space X. On June 17, 2021, China launched three people to CSS, the first module of its space station, for a period of three months. Against a backdrop of strained relations with the West, China decided to build its own space station after the United States refused to allow it to participate in the International Space Station (ISS) project, which will be retired in 2024. The decommissioning of the International Space Station may be postponed until 2028. At present, there is no discussion of similar follow-up cooperation projects among the members of the International Space Station, namely Europe, the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan. Regrettably, tensions between Russia and the United States have also weakened space cooperation, which is one of the few remaining areas of cooperation between two geopolitical rivals.

In addition, on March 9, 2021, the Director General of the Russian Federal Space Agency signed an agreement with his Chinese counterparts to jointly build a future lunar station. The text states that the Conference will be "open to all interested states and international partners to enhance the exchange of scientific research and to promote the exploration and use of outer space by humankind for peaceful purposes". Collaborate with Europe, Canada and Japan to build competing stations for the American Lunar Gateway Station. However, the Sino-Russian cooperation project has not put forward a timetable, but the earth geopolitical alliance system is already running on the moon.

Post-communist imitation of western challenges

The space cooperation between China and Russia is part of a long-term cooperation mode, which is greatly encouraged by the isolation imposed on them by the West. But it also makes sense, as they need to make up for their respective backwardness, with Moscow offering space to live and expertise in technology testing in exchange for Beijing's industrial and technological resources.

Contrary to the unilateral intentions of the United States, Russia and China are spreading a new language in support of the peaceful exploration and use of outer space under the Outer Space Treaty. Quand bien même un consensus juridique serait trouvé entre les grandes puissances spatiales, cette guerre de l’information entre les deux systèmes d’alliance occidental et sino-russe risque de se maintenir durablement avec le dessein de délégitimer les ambitions de l’autre auprès de l’opinion mondial.

The competition even returned to the golden age of the Cold War through the film competition that began more than a year ago. In October 2021, two film crews were scheduled to leave aboard the International Space Station, one Russian and the other American. On the one hand is the U.S. project, which costs $200 million and is conducted by the Tom Cruise-Space X-NASA-Global Quartet; On the other hand, a joint project between Russia's first television channel, Channel One, and Roscosmos has produced a film called Challenge. Objectives: Take off first and enjoy the historical pioneer position of the first space film. The Russian project arrived on board on Oct. 8 and made its world premiere before returning to Earth on Oct. 16. The victory boosted Russia's space program and its modernization, despite its delays and corruption.

The emergence of potential conflicts

In order to understand the sudden acceleration of attention to space defense, it is necessary to link the tremendous changes experienced by human activities related to the universe. As we have just seen, the revolution in space exploration, technological breakthroughs such as the emergence of nano-satellite constellations or reusable launch vehicles, the arrival of new private actors in space and the prospect of colonization and exploitation of the resources of other planets in the near future have made space an economic issue. But space is also a security issue, as rivalry between the great powers has returned and they may now engage in direct military confrontation. In such a conflict situation, the functions provided by satellites will be essential, whether in telecommunications, guidance, positioning and intelligence. If a big country can gain an advantage in outer space, it will undoubtedly gain an advantage in military operations on the surface of the earth, which other big countries can hardly offset.

Has begun to observe the new behavior of big countries. In 2017, for example, a Russian spy satellite approached a French military communications satellite.

The War Department released the information, saying it was a spying operation. After the establishment of the US Space Force in 2019, US President Donald Trump declared that "space is the new war front in the world". The United States has an independent space army. Russia, China, France and Iran have space commands. Others should follow suit soon.

At the end of the launch of France's first Asterx military exercise in space, Colonel Christophe Michel said: "You are space warriors." The exercise, led by the French Space Command (CDE) under the French Air Force and Space Ministry, was the first in French history. This is a major crisis simulation, involving different big countries competing with each other in outer space. Asterx shows that security and defense issues can be expressed in five different areas of confrontation: Land, sea, air, cyberspace and now outer space. Today we are witnessing the militarization of outer space and the emergence of a truly new area of conflict. The heightened threat from space led French Army Minister Florence Paley to propose a new "Star Wars" in 2017.

An overview of France's ambitions in outer space

France is updating all of its military installations in orbit during the period 2018-2023. The main objective is to strengthen the existing strategic alert and military operational support capabilities.

First, military telecommunications. Through Project Syracuse, the French army benefited from a stable and secure communications network. On October 24, 2021, the first satellite in the new generation of Syracuse IV constellation was successfully launched from Kourou to gradually replace the previous Syracuse III constellation that has been in operation since 2007. They will greatly improve the data rate and anti-interference ability.

Second, optical Earth observation, among other things, enables people to track the construction of military installations (for example, on islands in the China Sea) or provide ground forces with information about the movement of jihadist groups in the sand of Mali. To accomplish these tasks, DGA launched three satellite programs: Helios, CSO (optical space part) and Pleiades. The successor to the CSO, already known, will be known as IRIS and is expected to be launched in 2030. The third and final CSO satellite is scheduled to be launched in 2022.

Finally, listening is carried out through CERES program (listening and space electromagnetic intelligence capability). It is the result of decades of research by CNES and DGA, and consists of three small spy satellites, whose purpose is to provide intelligence based on observation and mapping of electromagnetic emission. In other words, it will enable us to identify, quantify and map radio, radar and electronic broadcasts from potentially hostile forces. The three satellites will be put into orbit on November 16, 2021. It is worth noting that with Ceres, France will enter a very limited club of countries with this technology; Only the United States, Russia and China have similar satellites. By 2030, the program will be replaced by Celeste program.

Therefore, in early 2020, France updated and expanded its satellite capability. All these assets will provide indispensable support for military operations on land, sea and air. Today, without satellite tools, it is almost impossible for staff officers to envision the success of military operations. However, these increasingly precious tools lack a protection system and, as a result, they are vulnerable to any malicious action by states that may wish to undermine France's ability to operate militarily. It is at this point that the change of theory and the establishment of Space Command become meaningful. France understands that its satellite fleet is vital to it and has become a de facto vulnerability factor. France is developing a space defense capability that can protect its space interests. In terms of theory, this is a problem of changing from control space to control space; This means moving from just the ability to use this environment to having the means to play a role in this environment. As a result, the French spacecraft will be split from a simple function of supporting Earth safety activities, and from now on it will also carry out missions related to the safety of space activities. This is the goal of ARES (Action and Space Resilience) program. As the basis of the Asterx exercise, it involves strengthening space monitoring and detection capabilities, adding and integrating passive protection on each new satellite, and finally developing space operational capabilities. These three types of activities will reflect France's new space defense and response strategy.

Strengthen French space intelligence

First, strengthen space monitoring and detection capabilities. In order to observe low orbit, France has a Graves programme (a large network for space situational awareness), which was put into operation in 2005 and developed by the National Office of Aerospace Research (ONERA). It detects low-orbit objects at altitudes of 400 to 1000 kilometers. It consists of a radar system fixed on the ground, which observes targets crossing the sky. As a result, it enables the French military to obtain information on the motion of satellites and other LEO objects. Only the United States, Russia and China, as many times, have such capabilities. However, the Graves system is now showing its age, especially in the face of the development of stealth satellites and nanosatellites. As a result, its successor is currently being identified, but plans have been made to modernize Graves to maintain its operational capacity until 2030.

With regard to the monitoring of the geostationary orbit the tarot telescope network of the National Centre for Remote Sensing was used. These capabilities are complemented by GeoTracker services provided by Ariana Group. The latter relies on a network of six telescopes around the world that helped identify Russian satellites that spied on French-Italian satellites in 2017. New telescopes may be developed in Europe to improve detection capabilities.

Secondly, the goal of the YODA program (the eyes of agile demonstrators are in orbit) is to protect French satellites, which has become a priority of the War Department.

The problem is that no one has a definite idea of what a conflict in outer space might look like. Some big countries have developed different orbits. Les travaux les plus avancées dressent la liste potentielle suivantes :

. First, kinetic energy weapons: Missiles and bullets. Their disadvantage is the large amount of debris generated when the satellite is destroyed, which could be counterproductive to all states, including those launching the attack. So far, only the United States, Russia, China and India have demonstrated control of anti-satellite missiles.

. Then there are directed energy weapons: Laser or electromagnetic pulse. The advantage of lasers is that they can be measured based on the degree of damage desired to the satellite, from simple sensor glare to a potentially destructive structural attack on the target satellite. Since 2016, ONERA has been committed to the development of lasers: A fire from the ground temporarily disabled an old French observation satellite. So lasers are likely to be the flagship technology for France's first defense satellites

The threat of hackers

Here we see the intersection of two new areas of conflict cyberspace and outer space. Here, we can envisage the possibility of controlling the satellite by hackers and initiating the derailment procedure, for example, by plunging the satellite into the atmosphere or sending it into the edge of the universe. Future generations of satellites IRIS and Celeste are likely to benefit from more comprehensive protection and be better able to protect satellites from a wide range of threats.

Yoda satellite represents a new type of reinforcement. The programme is under the responsibility of CNES and will be deployed at the end of this decade. The mission of the future Syracuse satellite bodyguard is to position himself near Syracuse satellite and ensure that it is monitored in its surrounding environment.

Finally, space mobility. Yoda satellite will provide protection for French geostationary satellites. However, they will not provide protection for low-orbit satellites. In order to prevent the latter from being unprotected, we can consider developing ground laser system. In addition to lasers and satellites, mobility can also be achieved through mobile spacecraft similar to the U.S. X-37 unmanned aerial vehicle. The French General Staff plans to develop these capabilities by 2035, which will provide France with considerable low-orbit operational capability. Therefore, the concept of "Space Knight" developed by Thales Alenia Space Company and Italian company Avio is the most advanced project in Europe at this stage. In fact, such a spacecraft would provide some flexibility in action, such as the possibility of capturing a damaged satellite, bringing it back to Earth for repairs and then returning it to orbit. This armed drone will also represent a powerful on-orbit weapon system, with reconfigurable weapons every time it returns to Earth, and it is resistant to directed energy weapons because of its heat shield.

Taken together, France and big countries in general are much more advanced than people think. But we should not forget that we are in the early stage of space war. In the near future, the economic problems accompanying the development of the space industry are likely to become so serious that it will be difficult to prevent increased tensions and competition for power between major public and private actors. If it is recognized that the free and peaceful administration established by the 1967 Treaty is incompatible with the exploitation of space resources, is the emergence of a normative framework extending the principle of private property to the universe inevitable? Are the resources at the disposal of Russia and China's main rivals enough to prevent American rule in the face of a coalition of Western democracies? Won't the alliance break up over time for a new form of economic war once the private space industry is liberated from the state? Even if this balance of power is balanced among actors, or in turn leans towards a hegemonic power, it seems that nothing or anyone can prevent the conquest of space from turning into a real Star Wars.

Louis-Marie Dolly