2021 - REPORT - SPACE AND SECURITY – NATO’S ROLE

Karl-Heinz BRUNNER (Germany)

01 December 2021

This report was adopted by the Science and Technology Committee at the Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Lisbon.

 

Space technologies and space-based data and services are crucially important for the global economic and financial systems, communication, scientific progress, earth observation and natural disaster management, to name but a few. Moreover, space has emerged as a critical security frontier. Recognising the security implications of the rapid progress of space-related technologies, several Allies have embarked on adapting their armed forces by setting up space commands or created a new military service. Similarly, NATO has agreed on a space policy and recently decided to establish a Space Centre in Ramstein, Germany, and welcomed the creation of a Centre of Excellence in Toulouse (France). 

This report sheds a light on the significant increase of actors, both state and commercial, and their activities in space. It briefly describes the advances key space-faring nations, such as the United States, Russia, and China have made in space technology. Special attention is given to Russian and Chinese activities and progress in the development of space-denial technologies. The draft then discusses possible implications of these developments for the existing space infrastructure of Allied member states. A brief analysis of international agreements on space activities and existing gaps that the international community needs to address is followed by an analysis of NATO’s evolving role in space.  

The report concludes that the existing space infrastructure of Allied nations is susceptible to attack, and their access to space could be disrupted. Developing a common understanding of the security-related challenges and opportunities of space is an important step towards making existing and future Allied space-based assets more resilient. Member states should use NATO as a forum to discuss the security and defence aspects of space. Moreover, as the use of space for peaceful purposes is in the interest of all nations, the Allies should develop a joint approach towards closing existing gaps in international agreements.