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

Karl-Heinz BRUNNER (Germany)

07 April 2021

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. Not surprisingly, space has become a key security issue. In recognition of the opportunities and the challenges of space, 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 and a Centre of Excellence.

This preliminary draft report sheds a light on the significant increase of actors, both state and commercial, and their activities in space. It briefly describes the progress 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. 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 resilient. Member states should use NATO as a forum to discuss the operationalisation 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 to towards closing existing gaps in international agreements.

This preliminary draft report will be presented and discussed at the 2021 Spring Session’s online meeting of the Science and Technology Committee.


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