AlExEi ARbATOv AND vlAdimiR dvORkin, EDITORS

vlAdimiR dvORkin, EDITORS
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Kosmos. English
Outer space : weapons, diplomacy and security / Alexei Arbatov and Vladimir
Dvorkin, editors.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-0-87003-250-9 (pbk.) -- ISBN 978-0-87003-251-6 (cloth) 1. Space
weapons. 2. Aeronautics, Military. 3. Outer space--Strategic aspects. I. Arbatov,
Aleksei Georgievich. II. Dvorkin, Vladimir. III. Title.
UG1520.K6713 2010

Cover design and composition by Design Army
Printed by United Book Press

vii Foreword

ix Preface

xv Acknowledgments

xvii Abbreviations and Acronyms

xxi Introduction
Alexei Arbatov and Vladimir Dvorkin

Part 1: Civilian And Military Activities In Outer Space

2 Features of the outer space environment
Petr Topychkanov

16 the Peaceful and Military Development of space:
A Historical Perspective
Valery Babintsev

30 space Weapons Programs
Vladimir Dvorkin

Part 2: Negotiations and Legal Regulations Governing Outer Space

48 non-Weaponization of outer space:
Lessons From Negotiations
Viktor Mizin

68 Codes of Conduct for outer space
Sergey Oznobishchev

78 Preventing an arms race in space
Alexei Arbatov

103 Conclusion

111 Index

117 Contributors

119 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

In the fifty years since the United States and Russia raced to launch the first
weapons into outer space, the military, commercial, and scientific development of
space has advanced at a rapid pace. While space has not transformed—yet—into
a new field for armed conflict, its potential for militarization makes cooperation
between nations an urgent global priority.

In Outer Space: Weapons, Diplomacy, and Security, editors Alexei Arbatov
and Vladimir Dvorkin—along with other Russian researchers from the Carnegie
Moscow Center’s Nonproliferation Program—explore the strategic implications of
space weapons from the Russian point of view. What is the possibility of a space
arms race and who would win it? What are the codes of conduct for operating in
outer space? Who controls the skies beyond Earth’s limits? Can disagreements
be resolved peacefully?

Several recent attempts to develop legal barriers to a space race have failed. But,
the authors argue, an agreement on a framework governing space—which lacks
borders—must be reached. If outer space should fill with weapons—including
highly survivable space systems and information transmission systems used for
military purposes—the risk of accidents, false alarms, and command system mal-
functions becomes substantial.

The potential risks increase as nations with growing political, military, and eco-
nomic ambitions—notably China, India, and Pakistan—quickly develop expertise.
Their use of space information systems for military purposes could create a tipping

point that would make reversing an arms race impossible. If countries fail to find
areas of cooperation, the growing threat of a space arms race and the prospects
of conflict in space would inevitably lead to nuclear and missile proliferation, and
create an irreversible crisis for the entire nonproliferation regime.

This path is avoidable. By taking a close look at the mixed history of disarmament
talks, the evolving relationship between the United States and Russia, and the fac-
tors that motivate nations to engage in peaceful negotiations, the authors argue
that diplomatic solutions can prevent another space race. Nations will need to be
transparent about their goals and the terms covered by formal and informal disar-
mament agreements to provide a successful framework for negotiations. Rather
than banning weapons outright, countries may need to adopt partial solutions and
find ways to closely monitor compliance.

As the globalization of economic, political, military, and technological development
expands the realm of activity in outer space, this volume provides a compelling
road map on how to avoid future conflicts in a critical arena.

Jessica T. Mathews
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


The special nature of space as a sphere of civilian and military activity is drawing
increasing interest as more countries develop and enhance their space programs.
Ensuring those programs are used to achieve peaceful ends is a growing source
of concern for the international community.

This edited volume—produced as part of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Non-
proliferation Program—assesses prospects for preventing the militarization of
space, efforts to establish an international legal framework to guide space
development, and past and present space weapons programs. By analyzing
fifty years of space system development, the authors determine that nations
must heed the lessons of previous disarmament negotiations, recognize the
changing balance of power in space, and seek areas of cooperation both
formally and informally.

Chapter one, “Features of the Outer Space Environment,” by Petr Topych-
kanov, examines the specific nature of outer space. It provides an overview of
the various types of spacecraft and their operation, and explains the relation-
ship between satellite capabilities and the orbits in which they are placed. It
also provides a comparative analysis of the operational use of armed forces
on land, at sea, in the air, and in space.

In chapter two, “The Peaceful and Military Development of Space: A Histori-
cal Perspective,” independent expert Valery Babintsev examines the history of
space exploration from the launch of the first Soviet satellite in 1957 to the

present. The chapter analyzes the technical characteristics of the various space
launchers and manned and unmanned spacecraft, as well as the increasing
use of space-based information systems and technology. It also assesses the
outlook for the future development of civilian and military space systems.

In chapter three, “Space Weapons Programs,” Vladimir Dvorkin takes a close
look at the development of U.S., USSR/Russian, and Chinese systems for
destroying satellites, penetrating missile defenses, and launching strikes from
space against targets on Earth. He also examines the development of Soviet
asymmetrical measures in response to the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative pro-
gram in the 1980s, reviews current U.S. research and development projects in
the space weapons field, and assesses the latent technological links between
missile defense and antisatellite systems as well as the development prospects
for space-based missile defense systems and space-to-Earth strike weapons.

Chapter four, “Non-Weaponization of Outer Space: Lessons From Negotiations,”
by Viktor Mizin, provides a historical overview and analysis of the efforts to
create a legal framework for the military use of space, beginning with the
1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, and
continuing with the discussions on space-based missile defenses at talks
between the United States and the USSR. These talks centered on nuclear
and space weapons and the draft agreements made in the 1980s on the
prohibition of weapons in space. He examines how each side’s position has
evolved and how the groundwork already laid on developing legal provisions
and norms could be used in future negotiations.

In chapter five, “Codes of Conduct for Outer Space,” Sergey Oznobishchev
explores informal means of preventing the militarization of space—not through
full-scale treaties, but through politically binding voluntary codes of conduct
in outer space. Codes of conduct could help create political barriers to the
militarization of space and create favorable conditions for subsequent formal
negotiations and agreements.

Finally, in chapter six, “Preventing an Arms Race in Space,” Alexei Arbatov
looks at the prospects for future treaties on banning or limiting space weap-
ons. He examines the latest initiatives, focusing on the Russian-Chinese draft
presented at the Disarmament Conference in 2008. He analyzes the legal,
strategic, military, and technical difficulties involved in defining the treaty’s
subject matter―along with the possibilities for monitoring compliance, drawing
on examples from previous arms control talks, including negotiations on stra-
tegic arms reductions. Arbatov also evaluates the evolution of arms control
measures and methods for monitoring compliance, and presents a system-
atized categorization of various space weapons that could be the subject of
future treaties and verification procedures.

The authors draw a number of conclusions. First, over the last half century, great
strides have been made in the military, commercial, and scientific development
of outer space, but it has not yet been transformed into a new field for potential
armed conflict. The creation and use of weapons in military operations in space
and from space is more costly than using forces and weapons deployed on
land, at sea, and in the air.

Second, development of space information systems will continue in two direc-
tions: the development of highly survivable space systems comprising small
(light), rapidly deployable spacecraft and boosters, and the development of
information transmission systems. The potential militarization or weaponization
of space could become the biggest threat to its peaceful use and to the devel-
opment of international cooperation.

Third, the last decade has shown that Washington is disinclined to engage in
disarmament negotiations on the basis of goodwill and noble goals alone. Only
strategic interests can motivate the United States to undertake serious talks
and accept limitations on its own weapons. The existence of military space
programs in Russia and China could be an incentive to begin serious negotia-
tions in this area, but if weapons development goes beyond a certain threshold,
the arms race may become impossible to reverse, especially given the variety of
space weapons and the difficulty of verifying their numbers.

Fourth, previous negotiations on nuclear and space weapons have shown that
if one country maintains complete secrecy of its military-technical programs
and closes off its decisions to any critical analysis while trying to use nego-
tiations for its own political and propaganda ends, the diplomatic process
inevitably ends in deadlock.

Fifth, recent international attempts to erect legal barriers to an arms race in
space have been unsuccessful. The resulting deadlock has led the expert
community to look for alternative solutions. One possible approach is to reach
agreement on a framework or code of conduct in outer space, which would
create the political conditions for a rapid transition to full-fledged and legally
binding treaties on banning or limiting space weapons.

Sixth, an analysis of the half century of space system development makes it
possible to identify two main models for the legal regulation of space activity.
One is based on the 1967 Treaty on Outer Space and includes comprehen-
sive bans on general classes of weapons and activities, without going into
the technical details of definitions, verification, data exchange, provisions on
exceptions to the rules, and mutually agreed-upon understandings. The other
model is based on the ABM, SALT I, INF, and START I treaties, which include
detailed agreements on all issues, as well as gradual progression in disarma-
ment and control measures, ranging from partial measures to ones that are
increasingly broad in scope.

Soviet proposals at multilateral forums and bilateral talks with the United
States in the 1980s as well as Russian initiatives over the last decade (includ-
ing joint initiatives with other countries) were based on the first model. Set
against Washington’s unconstructive line, these diplomatic initiatives brought
Moscow some political and propaganda dividends but did not lead to con-
crete results in the form of legally binding treaties.

To achieve results in this area, the United States will need to transition its policy
from the first to the second model, taking into account the immense complexity
and many facets of the issues, the differing stages of development of various
technical programs and projects, the technological overlap between the vari-
ous types of systems, the difficulties involved in defining the subject matter of
treaties and implementing verification measures, and the great asymmetry in
the geostrategic situations and military policies of different countries.

The ability to agree on definitions of what exactly treaties will cover and to
draw up realistic and reliable verification and transparency measures will play a
huge role in the success of any practical negotiations. Rather than simply ban-
ning deployment, an indirect solution to the problem could be to reach an initial
agreement prohibiting tests of antisatellite systems and space-based missile
defense systems that result in the destruction of a targeted satellite or ballistic
missile and its components during flight. Compliance could be monitored using
the technical means of verification of the parties, preferably in combination with
cooperation and transparency measures. The initial treaty could have a limited
validity period (ten years with the possibility of extension), and in its first stage
could include the United States, Russia, and preferably China, and later be
extended to other countries.

Seventh, the United States possesses clear technical superiority in space at
the moment, but an arms race in space could lead China, Russia, India, Brazil,
and Japan, and possibly Iran, Pakistan, and others to balance it. Despite its
superiority in space, the United States is also the country that depends most
on the security of satellite support systems for its military and civilian activi-
ties. It would therefore have the most to lose.

In the long term, the growing threat of a space arms race and the prospect
of conflicts in space would inevitably lead to vertical and horizontal nuclear
and missile proliferation, and create an irreversible crisis for the entire nuclear
nonproliferation regime. Furthermore, if outer space, which lacks national
borders, were to become filled with weapons, there would be a substantial
danger of accidents, false alarms, command system malfunctions, and so on.

In this era of globalization, the world is experiencing security problems that
cannot be resolved unilaterally, especially through the use of military force.
There is an urgent need for cooperation among the major powers and all
responsible countries to resolve these issues as they seek to combat the

proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, prevent international terrorism,
carry out multilateral peacekeeping operations, verify compliance at major
stages of the disarmament process, implement effective measures to address
climate change and environmental issues, and take action to ensure energy
and food security. This book underscores the importance of such cooperation
in a new and expanding realm.


The authors would like to express their gratitude to the Carnegie Corporation of
New York, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Starr
Foundation for their support of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Nonprolifera-
tion Program. They are also grateful to the researchers and support staff of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Washington) and the Carnegie
Moscow Center for their intellectual contributions and assistance.

We are especially grateful to all the Russian specialists from the Russian Acad-
emy of Sciences, government agencies, scientific and civil centers, and the media
who took part in a series of seminars and conferences held in 2008 as part of this
project. Their feedback was invaluable. Our special gratitude goes to Renad Z.
Sagdeyev, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, for reviewing the book.

Although the present work, like the Nonproliferation Program as a whole, pro-
ceeded under the auspices of the Carnegie Moscow Center, full responsibility for
the opinions expressed herein rests only with the Russian specialists who authored
its contents. They address their analyses, criticisms, and proposals to the political
circles, academic communities, and informed citizens of Russia, the United States,
and other influential countries in preventing the potential weaponization of space.

ACknOWlEdgmEnTS xv
And ACROnymS

ABM Treaty Treaty between the USSR and the U.S. on the Limitation
of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems

AES Artificial Earth satellite

ASAT Antisatellite system

BMD Ballistic missile defense

BTWC Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production,
and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin
Weapons and on Their Destruction

CFE Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe

CTBT Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

CWC Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Produc-
tion, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their

ECM Electronic countermeasure equipment

FOBS Fractional Orbital Bombardment System

GLONASS Global Navigation Satellite System

AbbREviATiOnS And ACROnymS xvii
ICBM Intercontinental ballistic missile

ICOC International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile

INF Treaty Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (referred to as the
Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missile Treaty in Russian)

MTCR Missile Technology Control Regime

NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NTMV National Technical Means of Verification

PPW Draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in
Outer Space

R&D Research and development

SALT I Interim Agreement between the USSR and the U.S. on Certain
Measures with Respect to the Limitation of Strategic Offensive
Arms (1972)

SALT II Treaty between the USSR and the U.S. on the Limitation of
Strategic Offensive Arms (1979)

SBL Space-based laser weapons

SDI Strategic Defense Initiative (U.S.)

SLBM Submarine-launched ballistic missile

SMF Strategic missile forces

SORT Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty

START I Treaty between the USSR and the U.S. on the Reduction and
Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (1991)

START II Treaty between the Russian Federation and the U.S. on the Fur-
ther Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (1993)

TMO Theater of military operations

UN United Nations

WMD Weapons of mass destruction

xviii AbbREviATiOnS And ACROnymS
“Henceforth, battle will be done with chemistry textbooks and laboratories rather
than armies; armies will be needed only to provide someone to die under the
laboratory missiles in accordance with the laws of chemistry.”

Vasily Klyuchevsky, Russian historian (1841–1911)

The militarization of outer space, the problems and prospects of preventing the
proliferation of space weapons, and the prohibition of the use of force in and from
space are not new issues, but they are more relevant than ever. More than 125
countries are currently involved in various space activities. Russia and the United
States are the leaders, with France, China, Japan, Germany, Britain, Canada,
the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain each playing an active role. Certain newly
industrialized nations (India, Pakistan, Argentina, and Egypt) are also steadily
becoming more involved. At least 40 of these countries rely to one degree or
another on programs that utilize space to provide information support for their
weapons systems, while over 20 countries possess the scientific and industrial
potential to develop and produce space technology and launch spacecraft using
their own or leased carriers.

The United States, Russia, China, France, and Japan have the means for pro-
viding space-based information support, including image reconnaissance, with
Britain and Germany also engaged in their development. India has second-
generation space-based remote Earth-sensing technologies that also allow
it to conduct image reconnaissance, but at lower resolutions. There is even
evidence that the United Arab Emirates has hired various firms to develop its
own military spacecraft.

At present, the near-Earth space environment is home to around 780 actively
operating spacecraft, with around 425 of these belonging to the United States, 96
to Russia, and 22 to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).1 By 2015, the number

inTROdUCTiOn xxi
of satellite constellations will grow by more than 400 spacecraft. Also of note is the
gradual development of multi-satellite space systems that comprise hundreds of
small, lightweight spacecraft capable of completing dual-purpose missions.

Space systems now represent an integral part of the combat potential of the
leading nations’ armed forces. The developed nations are becoming all but inca-
pable of conducting military operations without their space capabilities, which
contribute information support.

More than 150 satellites in deployed constellations in space in either operational
or standby mode provide information support. On the whole, about 40 percent of
the total spacecraft in orbit are active military satellites, which may be deployed in
any class of orbit. About 25 percent of these spacecraft are concentrated in low
orbit, 20 percent are in intermediate orbit, and 55 percent are in highly elliptical or
geostationary orbits. While Russia, the United States, and its NATO allies all have
military spacecraft, the overwhelming majority of the military satellites belong to
the United States, which has made substantially greater investment in its military
space program than all other space nations combined (at commercial rates of
exchange, it is about 20 times larger than that of Russia).2

The security of military, dual-purpose, and civilian satellite systems has now
become a vital component of overall national security for nearly every developed
nation. Aside from those used in military systems, Earth-monitoring satellites play
an important role in warning people about natural disasters and other emergen-
cies. Satellite systems are also crucial in supporting financial and economic activi-
ties in this era of globalization, especially as most transactions already depend on
satellite communications and relay systems.

Greater conflict in international relations, growing political and military differences
among leading powers and alliances, and the rapid pace of scientific and tech-
nological progress threaten to turn space—with its growing military and civilian
significance—into a new arena for arms races. The precedent was set during the
Cold War, when the USSR and the United States actively developed and deployed
weapons in space.

War has evolved from land, to sea, and finally, to air. To move into the realm of
space would naturally continue the way the use of force has expanded the course
nations have followed over millennia as their geopolitical configurations realign
and regular breakthroughs in science and technology are made. However, this
course also presents growing threats to international security and enormous
material costs, which are particularly counterproductive, given the unprecedented
global economic crisis and its potential long-term consequences.

Outer space first turned into a transit zone and military test site as early as
the 1950s: first for nuclear testing, then for the flight trajectories of ballistic
missiles, and finally for their interception by anti-ballistic missile systems. Yet

xxii inTROdUCTiOn
large-scale militarization of outer space has not really begun, in the sense of
deploying weapons to use in or from space.

With the end of the Cold War, a multipolar international system, intensive glo-
balization, and global interdependence began to develop. The opportunity soon
emerged to break the historical cycle of arms races and military conflicts spread-
ing to ever-higher levels of technological innovation and newer spheres of human
activity. Resolving the potentially catastrophic problems of climate change, energy
and food security, the campaign against the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction (WMD), and the suppression of international terrorism and its support-
ers among irresponsible regimes requires unprecedented cooperation in the civi-
lized global community, including in the way it approaches the use of outer space.

Humanity faces a crucial decision: it can treat space as an arena for arms races
and armed conflict, or make it a sphere for peaceful international cooperation. The
choice will likely be made in the coming decade.

1 Voennoy-Promyshlennyi kompleks: Entsiklopediya [Military-Industrial Complex Encyclope-
dia], vol. 1 (Moscow: Voennyi Parad, 2005).
2 Ibid.

inTROdUCTiOn xxiii

OUTER SPACE Outer space is understood as everything beyond the Earth’s
atmosphere. The Greek word “cosmos” is synonymous with the astronomic defini-
tion of the concept of universe. Outer space may be subdivided into near-Earth,
interplanetary, and interstellar (meta-galactic) space, commonly also known as
near, outer, and open space.1 As outer space is a unique environment, it cannot be
studied or utilized without first understanding its features and properties.

The boundary between the atmosphere and outer space should lie at altitudes of
100 kilometers above sea level, as recommended by the International Aeronautical
Federation at its 1960 conference in Barcelona, Spain. However, these recom-
mendations have not yet been formalized in international law. The only official
proclamation on such matters is the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities
of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and
Other Celestial Bodies, which states that outer space “is not subject to national
appropriation” by claims of sovereignty.2 Consequently, nations are free to gather
intelligence and conduct other activities from outer space, something they cannot
do in the atmosphere above the territories of other countries.3

Outer space is characterized by its extreme vacuum and the presence of ultra-
violet radiation, solar wind, high-energy particles, interstellar dust from meteors,
and larger meteorites. Other important features of outer space to be considered
include the magnetic fields of the Sun, the Earth, and the other planets; the exis-
tence of radiation belts (high-energy particles that have been captured and cor-
ralled by magnetic fields); and gravity and weightlessness.

Near-Earth space is dominated by Earth’s gravity field, which extends to a radius
of around 930,000 kilometers. Within this region, the overriding consideration for
spacecraft flight is the Earth’s gravitational pull.

Beyond the gravitational reach of the Earth, the gravitational influences of the
Sun and other planets begin to dominate, with the Earth’s gravitational field play-
ing the role of a perturbing force. Sometimes, the term “near space” is applied
only to the radius of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth, which stretches from
363,000 kilometers at perigee (the point in the orbit closest to the center of the
Earth) to 406,000 kilometers at apogee (the point in the orbit that is farthest from
the center of the Earth).

ORbiTS And SATElliTES Most human activity in outer space occurs in “near
space.” Fewer than four percent of all the spacecraft ever deployed have left the
Earth’s gravitational field,4 giving a clue to the main uses of outer space: detection
and observation of objects on the Earth’s surface, below ground, at sea, in the
atmosphere, and in space; navigation, communications, and control; and meteorol-
ogy and scientific research.5 Each orbit offers its own advantages for carrying out
these varied tasks.

In analyzing human activity in outer space, it is vital to understand the orbital
parameters of the spacecraft as they pass through the gravitational fields of
the Earth, the planets, and other celestial bodies. The orbital parameters are
of primary importance in determining the main requirements a spacecraft must
meet, and how effective it will be in carrying out its mission. The primary orbital
parameters are:
• inclination i – the angle between the orbital plane and the equator;
• orbital period T – the time it takes for a satellite to complete one orbit;
• orbital altitude (Hp – perigee, i.e., the minimum distance between the satellite
and the Earth, Ha – apogee, i.e.,– the maximum distance to Earth);
• eccentricity e – the ratio of the distance between the orbit’s foci and the major,
or real, axis.
The orbits considered most practical for carrying out the principal spacecraft
missions are the equatorial, stationary, polar, sun-synchronous, elliptical, and
quasi-circular orbits.

Equatorial orbits are defined as those in which the angle of inclination between
the orbital plane and the Earth’s equatorial plane is close to zero. A satellite pass-
ing over the surface of the Earth in equatorial orbit will continually “view” exactly
the same track of ground. At lower altitudes, obviously, the field of view will be
smaller, but the satellite will be able to track a single strip all the way around the
Earth. The advantage of an equatorial orbit at the altitude mentioned above is
that it will be geosynchronous, with the orbital period of the satellite matching the

Earth’s period of rotation of 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.09 seconds, allowing the
satellite to remain fixed above the same point on the Earth (known as a geosta-
tionary orbit). Such orbits are usually used by telecommunication satellites and
missile warning systems.

Orbits inclined 90° relative to the equator are called polar orbits, as they pass over
the Earth’s poles. Satellites with an orbital plane inclined between 97° and 110°
relative to the equator are said to be in sun-synchronous orbit. A satellite moving
along this orbit is constantly stationed on the illuminated side of the Earth. These
orbits are primarily used for space reconnaissance. Table 1 shows the most fre-
quently used orbits.6

Table 1. Classification of Main Orbits


Circular Equal apogee Ha and perigee Hp altitudes, inclination i = 90°.
Ensures that the spacecraft passes sequentially along every
Polar region of the Earth, including the polar regions.

Elliptical 0<e<1

Sun-synchronous Characterized by a constant angle between the orbital plane
and the direction of the sun; for orbits where H = 300–5,900
km, i = 97–110°.

Geostationary i = 0, H = 35,809 km. A single satellite has a field of view of
30–34% of the surface of the Earth.

Isosynchronous Passes over the same ground track (projection of satellite’s
orbit on the Earth’s surface) on a daily basis.

Quasi-isosynchronous Passes over the same ground track (projection of satellite’s
orbit on the Earth’s surface) every n days.

Inclined orbits are more convenient for observing objects on the surface of the
Earth, as the greater the orbital inclination relative to the equator, the broader the
strip of ground that the satellite can “see.” Polar orbits permit full coverage of the
Earth’s surface. For example, a satellite in polar orbit passing at an altitude of 600
kilometers above sea level can cover the surface of the Earth completely in twelve
hours, or over seven revolutions.7

Orbits are also divided by shape into circular, elliptical, parabolic, and hyperbolic. In
circular orbits, the altitude of any orbital point above the Earth is about the same,
while elliptical orbits are substantially closer to the Earth at perigee than they are
at apogee. Parabolic and hyperbolic orbits enable the spacecraft to escape the
Earth’s field of gravity.

In order to achieve its assigned orbit, a spacecraft must develop the necessary
velocity, primarily through the thrust produced by its engines during the boost

phase of its flight. During insertion of a spacecraft into orbit and subsequently
during its flight, it is subjected to a series of disturbance forces, and its orbital
parameters must be maintained through periodic adjustments to its trajectory
using its engines.

A spacecraft must maintain a velocity of at least 7.8 km/s in order to enter a cir-
cular orbit 160 kilometers above sea level (see more about orbital altitudes below);
to achieve elliptical orbit, a spacecraft needs to reach a greater velocity, but less
than 11.0 km/s. At a velocity of 10.9 km/s, the spacecraft can achieve parabolic
orbit. At an even greater velocity, called the second cosmic velocity, spacecraft
enter hyperbolic orbits. 8 Circular and elliptical orbits are often preferred for space
missions because they allow the spacecraft to engage in a stable and long-term
exchange of information with the Earth.

Each altitude is characterized by its own orbital velocity, orbital period, field
of view along the surface of the Earth (see Table 2), and physical/spatial
characteristics (Table 3).
Table 2. Characteristics of Main Near-Earth Orbits

AlTiTUdE, km vElOCiTy, km/S PERiOd, min. PERCEnTAgE OF TOTAl

500 7.6 94.2 3.6

1,000 7.4 104.9 6.8

20,000 3.9 718.3 (12 h) 38.0

36,000 3.1 1,436.2 (24 h) 42.0

Source: D. Wright, L. Grego, and L. Gronlund, The Physics of Space Security: A Reference
Manual (Cambridge: American Academy of Arts & Science, 2005), 21, 22, 35.

Two other negative technological factors that affect the operation of spacecraft
must be added to the orbital factors listed above: space debris and radio inter-
ference. Space debris consists of artificial objects, including items that have
detached from spacecraft and launch vehicles, as well as damaged or decom-
missioned spacecraft remaining in orbit. 9 A vivid example of the manner in which
debris can appear in space was provided by the Chinese antisatellite weapons test
on January 11, 2007: a 960-kilogram Fengyun-1C weather satellite was destroyed
by a Chinese mid-range missile at an altitude of 864 kilometers above the Earth,
producing some 2,500 particles of debris. As a result of such tests, the number
of objects registered in the catalog of the U.S. Space Surveillance Network has
dramatically grown.10

According to the Space Surveillance Network, there were 12,851 objects in near-
Earth space as of October 1, 2008.11 Seven percent of these (900 objects) were
functioning spacecraft, with the remainder being space junk: non-functioning

Table 3. Physical and Spatial Characteristics of Earth Orbits

ThE EARTh (km)

Low-Earth 100–500 The spacecraft is slowed by the diffusion of light gases
orbits in the atmosphere.

The Earth’s radiation belt (lower boundary at 200–300
kilometers) partially reflects radio waves.

500–1,500 Gas diffusion makes a smaller impact on the spacecraft
(almost none at 1,500 kilometers), but the spacecraft
does encounter the composite disturbance forces of the
Earth, Moon, and Sun. Low radiation level.

Medium-Earth 1,500–5,000 The effects of the Earth’s inner radiation belt escalate
orbits until the spacecraft reaches an altitude of 3,000 kilome-
ters, where these effects sharply decrease. High-level
radioactivity poses a danger to the spacecraft and its
crew (in case of manned flights).

5,000–40,000 The force of Earth’s gravitational perturbation weakens,
while that of the Moon and the Sun increases. The influ-
ence of the Earth’s outer radiation belt grows, reaching
a peak at an altitude of 20,000 kilometers. Solar winds
increase (with particle speeds ranging from 300–600
km/s during solar lulls up to 2,000 km/s during solar
flares). Geostationary orbit ends at an altitude of 35,786

High-Earth 40,000–300,000 The gravitational pull of the Earth continues to weaken.
orbits Solar winds increase.

300,000–450,000 The spacecraft encounters a strong disturbance force
from the Moon (its gravitational pull reaches out 65,000
kilometers from the center of its mass). This range has
three equilibrium points in the Earth-Moon system of
coordinates, and two points in the Earth-Moon-Sun sys-
tem (libration points). There is no longer any effect from
the Earth’s radiation belt. Solar winds increase further.

450,000–930,000 The gravity of the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun has only
a weak net effect on the spacecraft. No radiation belts
are present.

Source: M. A. Borchev, O voennoy kosmonavtike [On Military Cosmonautics] (Moscow: SIP RIA,
2005), 34–35.

satellites, spent orbital stages, objects associated with mission programs (53
percent), and debris fragments (40 percent).12 Only objects ten centimeters in
radius (in low earth orbit) or greater (in medium- and high-Earth orbits) have
been cataloged, although spacecraft can be damaged by even smaller objects.
The kinetic energy of a ten-centimeter object traveling at 30,000 km/h in low

orbit is equivalent to that of a 35-ton truck driving at 190 km/h. Passive defensive
equipment (such as shields or other devices) serve to protect spacecraft only
from the smallest objects. Another equipment-source factor negatively affecting
satellite performance is radio interference. The saturation of orbits with satellites
operating in either the same band or in adjacent bands leads to radio interfer-
ence and radio signal overlap.13

The specific nature of orbits and dynamics of space-program development, first
and foremost in the USSR/Russia and the United States, has helped to define
the technical aspects of how the military uses orbits (Table 4).

Table 4. Operational Military Use of Orbits

ThE EARTh, km

Low-Earth orbits (circular) 100–1,500 Telecommunications



Radio intelligence


Medium-Earth orbits 19,000–20,000 Navigation
(circular, semi-synchronous)


Geostationary orbit 35,786 Missile warning systems

Radio intelligence


High-Earth orbits (elliptical) 450,000–930,000 Navigation

Missile warning systems

Radio intelligence


Sources: A. B. Carte, “Satellites and Antisatellites: The Limits of the Possible,” International
Security 10, no. 4 (Spring 1986), 48–67; J. West, managing ed., Space Security (Waterloo:
spacesecurity.org, 2008), 190–196; B. D. Watts, The Military Use of Space: A Diagnostic
Assessment (Washington: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, 2001), 9.

The above data show that the current level of technological development has
allowed the military to actively use any orbit for conducting its missions. The
choice of orbit has been determined by whatever conditions favor the effective

completion of these missions. Thus, the military uses low and medium orbits for
imaging, while deploying missile attack and nuclear detonation warning systems
in geostationary and high-Earth orbits.

A comparison between the Russian and U.S. approaches to outer space utili-
zation illustrates the importance of geography in the process of orbit selection.
While equatorial orbits—including geostationary ones—offer a fully accessible and
attractive option for the United States (the majority of its territory rests between
25° and 49° north latitude), inclined orbits—including polar ones—as well as high-
altitude elliptical orbits provide a more accessible option for Russia, which territory
stretches between 41° and 81° north latitude. To place a satellite in geostationary
orbit from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan, for example, would require
more energy than it does from Cape Canaveral, where the U.S. Kennedy Space
Center is located. Consequently, Russia needs to use more powerful launch
vehicles to reach that orbit. This factor becomes even more significant when the
spacecraft reaches orbit onboard a launch vehicle originating from Russia’s north-
ern space center at Plesetsk (which is why the country spent many years creating
the special, heavy Angara space vehicle).

The laws of space dynamics state that the plane of a near-Earth orbit (as well as
the plane of a ballistic missile’s trajectory) will always pass through the center of
the Earth, so the geographic latitude of the carrier’s launch site will limit the choice
of orbits that can be used for placing a payload in orbit. The angle of inclination
for the primary orbit must not be less than the geographic latitude of the launch
location.14 Hence, Russian spacecraft must execute complicated maneuvers with
significant orbital adjustments in order to deploy into geostationary orbit, while this
task is much simpler for countries like the United States and France. Alteration of
the orbital inclination requires far more complex and energy-intensive maneuvers
to achieve than alteration of orbital altitude or shape. Thus, while a spacecraft
would only have to increase its acceleration by 4 km/s in order to change from an
orbit of 400 kilometers to one of 36,000 kilometers, it would need to add 11 km/s
to change its inclination angle by 90°.15

A vehicle launched from France’s Kourou Space Center (French Guiana, 5° north
latitude, 52° west longitude), for example, can place 20 percent more payload into
geostationary orbit than can a similar vehicle launched from Russia’s Baikonur
Space Center (46° north latitude, 63° east longitude). For this reason, the Euro-
pean Ariane 4 and the Russian Proton-K, which can place 4.8- and 4.9-ton loads,
respectively, into geostationary orbit, differ substantially in weight: the launch
weight of the first vehicle is 470 tons, while that of the second is 692 tons.16

The following data describe human activity in “near space” in the most general
terms: of 900 operating spacecraft, 48 percent have been deployed into geosta-
tionary orbit, 36 percent into low orbit, 10 percent into high-altitude elliptical orbits
or interplanetary trajectories, and 6 percent into medium orbit.17 The spacecraft
occupying these orbits are specialized according to the most active fields of space

activity: telecommunications and meteorology (geostationary and low orbits); sur-
face, underground, sea, and air object imaging (low orbits); navigation (medium
orbits); and missile warning systems (high-altitude elliptical and geostationary
orbits). At the same time, most spacecraft are deployed on either military or dual-
use missions; thus, 70 of the approximately 100 Russian spacecraft perform purely
military or military and civilian missions.18

military operations is defined as the environment, factors, and conditions that must
be taken into consideration for the successful application of force or execution of a
particular military mission. It may encompass land, sea, air, and space (sometimes
air and outer space are combined into aerospace).19 Spheres of military operations
would include a country’s own armed forces, as well as allied and hostile forces and
their equipment, including the informational environment within areas of military
activity and other zones of significance.20 How each of these spheres of military
operations can be used for conducting specific military missions can be seen from
comparative evaluation of a number of parameters (Table 5).

Table 5. Comparative Evaluation of Certain Parameters of Spheres of Military Operations


Ground 3 3 2–3 3 4

Sea 3 2 3–4 4 3

Air 2 4 2 2 2

Space 1 1 1 1 1

Note: Figures indicate the following:
1 – of lowest value for military operations; 2 – of low value for military operations;
3 – of high value for military operations; 4 – of highest value for military operations.

As Table 5 shows, hypothetical military actions utilizing the four spheres of military
operations vary sharply across certain key parameters, with the greatest disparity
existing between space operations and the traditional spheres, rather than among
the other three. For example, the amount of forces and resources that could be
involved in military missions at any particular time is greatest for ground and naval
forces, smaller for air, and smaller still for space systems.

Thus, plans for creating a European Rapid Reaction Force call for only 60,000
of a total force of 200,000 people (30 percent) being scheduled for deployment
in combat as needed. During the Cold War, the United States kept about 50 to
60 percent of its strategic sea-based missile forces on combat alert. At the end
of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, less than 100 of the approximately
1,500 heavy and medium strategic bombers in the U.S. Strategic Air Command

could be maintained on air patrol at any one time. The fewest resources at any
particular time were available for missions in space, where the laws of space
dynamics strictly dictate how spacecraft can be used (to intercept interconti-
nental ballistic missiles [ICBMs], for example, or to strike surface targets). Since
spacecraft orbit the Earth as the Earth rotates on its axis, any single location
on Earth will be beyond the reach of a low-orbit spacecraft most of the time
(see Table 2). While the field of view of Earth increases at higher orbits and the
so-called “absence factor” declines, the distance to the target is correspondingly
greater, meaning that both the time and the potential energy required to hit a tar-
get increase (this relates to directed-energy weapons). Independent American
scientists have calculated that in order to intercept a single Iranian liquid fueled
ballistic missile, the United States would need some 1,600 of its Brilliant Pebbles
space interceptors in 300-kilometer orbits with a total mass of 2,000 tons, which
would require that the United States increase its current orbital payload capabili-
ties by a factor of five to ten.21

Another significant distinction is that once a spacecraft has entered orbit, it
requires much less logistical and administrative support than the forces and
resources used in other spheres of military operations. Air forces require the
greatest degree of support, ground forces require less support, and the navy less
still. By contrast, the launch of an orbital spacecraft (except for manned space
stations) requires no additional supplies (such as fuel and lubrication materials,
spare parts, munitions, provisions, and so on). Spacecraft now carry their own fuel
supply for orbital maneuvering, their own sources of power, and other resources
and materials onboard. A spacecraft’s reliance on the “rear” is reduced to receiv-
ing commands from its control center and transmitting information to users.

Yet another characteristic traditionally seen as vital to the effectiveness of force and
resource utilization is the extent of operational covertness. The navy (especially the
submarine arm) enjoys the greatest degree of covertness, ground forces are typi-
cally less covert, and air forces are even less so (with the exception of helicopters
and stealth aircraft). It is much easier to detect spacecraft in space, due to the pre-
dictability of their orbital position, the extreme difficulty of concealing them, and the
openness of space to radar and electro-optical surveillance. However, it is by no
means always possible to distinguish military satellites from civilian ones, especially
as few countries are able to monitor outer space and identify space objects.

As noted above, the energy intensity (and expense) associated with delivering
payloads to and from orbit are high, and the weight and size restrictions on the
spacecraft are severe, especially those placed in high orbits or orbits at reduced
angles of inclination. In terms of the ratio of mission-critical payload weight to total
weight, navy ships place highest (and on the whole have the fewest limitations).
This ratio is less favorable for the military equipment of ground forces, and even
less for air forces. Spacecraft have the least favorable ratio of mission-critical pay-
load to total weight (as noted above, their payloads may make up only about two
to three percent of total weight deployed in low orbit and less than one percent

in high orbit). This ratio means that space activity is extremely expensive: it costs
around 20,000 USD (in 1990s prices) to place one kilogram of payload into low
orbit. Add to this the cost of the spacecraft itself—which varies between 15 and 20
million USD for a mini-satellite and goes up to 100 million USD for a typical civilian
one (or even billions of dollars, in the case of complex spy satellites)—as well as
the cost of operating and using the spacecraft (or a spacecraft constellation),22
and it becomes obvious that military access to outer space is available only to
those countries that can provide substantial long-term financing.

Terrain and other surface features have always played an enormous—at times
decisive—role in military operations. Clearly, terrain has the greatest impact
on ground troops and forces, affecting naval forces to a much lesser degree,
and aviation, where weather conditions play the deciding role, even less so
(except for helicopters). These factors in their traditional form have absolutely
no effect on spacecraft (except for the presence of cloud cover, which makes
it more difficult to obtain photographic intelligence). As previously noted, the
critical factors for spacecraft are the gravitational and radiation fields of the
Earth and other celestial bodies, and the precessional braking that low-orbital
objects experience, in addition to the influence of equipment-related factors.
The unique characteristics of this “space terrain” demand a unique approach for
spacecraft operation and application.

The military operations sphere is composed of such features as theater or region
of military operations and operational zones (the terms “sphere” and “theater” of
military operations are sometimes used interchangeably). Some experts divide
outer space into two potential theaters of military operations (TMO): near-Earth
and near-lunar. The latter includes an area of outer space that would range from
300,000 to 450,000 kilometers. This sector is still unexplored and undeveloped
as part of the sphere of military operations. The first TMO—near-Earth—includes
near-Earth space from an altitude of 100 to 40,000 kilometers, as well as the facili-
ties for the launch, control, and support of spacecraft, located both on land and
at sea.23 The near-Earth TMO may be divided into three zones of operation, each
featuring its own set of objectives, advantages, and disadvantages (Table 6).

Thus, the use of outer space currently is confined mostly to near-space. Still, due to
the degree of difficulty associated with the development and use of outer space, at
present only military/logistic, commercial, and scientific missions are being planned.
Only the largest countries can deploy complex space systems for military missions.
Compared to other spheres of military operations, space imposes the greatest
number of limitations. This is why up to the present time spacecraft have been pri-
marily engaged in providing the armed forces with information support for pursu-
ing activities within the three traditional spheres of military operations, as well as for
ballistic missiles and ballistic missile defenses (BMD) that are not based in space.
Current systems provide support for the following types of missions in space:

• overview of military and strategic situation, and early warning of war prepara-
tions and the initiation of military operations;
• information support for armed forces (reconnaissance, navigation, cartography,
topographic and geodetic surveying, and meteorology);
• implementation of global systems of interference-safe communication and mili-
tary command;
• observation of compliance with international treaties and agreements on reduc-
tions in arms and forces;
• observation of the use of nuclear weapons and environmental conditions in
combat areas; and
• observation of the results of strikes against strategic objects and targets.

Table 6. Zones of Operation in a Potential Near-Earth TMO

OF All miliTARy

Near 100– Reconnaissance, Minimum energy Relatively high
zone of 2,000 communications, expenditure for energy expendi-
operation navigation, topo- launching space- ture for maneu-
graphical survey- craft, highly efficient vering, relatively
ing, meteorology for surveying Earth, high susceptibility
(60%) relative ease of to detection and
detecting missiles interception by
and spacecraft, ground-based
highly effective in systems, need for
striking ground tar- a large number
gets from space, low of spacecraft to
level of emissions maintain constant
during information Earth surveillance

Middle 2,000– Navigation, Duration of a Higher energy
zone of 20,000 reconnaissance spacecraft’s orbit expenditure
operation (10%) increases at higher to launch
altitudes, possibility spacecraft, longer
Far zone of 20,000– MWS, communi- of a geostationary time required for
operation 40,000 cations, combat orbit, lower maneu- potential non-
control, relaying, vering cost, fewer beam weapons
geophysical intel- spacecraft required to reach their
ligence support to survey the Earth surface targets

Sources: M. A. Borchev, O voennoy kosmonavtike [On Military Cosmonautics] (Moscow: SIP
RIA, 2005), 40; “Kosmos i natsionalnaya bezopasnost [Space and National Security],” Bol-
shaya Kosmicheskaya Entsiklopediya, http://kosmos.claw.ru/shared/231.html.


1 Kosmonavtika: Entsiklopediya [Cosmonautics: Encyclopedia] (Moscow: Sov. Entsiklopedia, 1985).
2 “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer
Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies,” Articles II, IV, United Nations Trea-
ties and Principles on Outer Space (New York: United Nations, 2002).
3 “Legal Aspects of Reconnaissance in Airspace and Outer Space,” Columbia Law Review
61, no. 6 (June 1961), 1,078–1,086.
4 B. D. Watts, The Military Use of Space: A Diagnostic Assessment (Washington: Center for
Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, 2001), 8–9.
5 A. M. Belyakov, E. P. Palagin, and F. R. Khantseverov, “Kosmicheskiye apparaty” [Space
Vehicles], in Sovetskaya voennaya entsiklopedia [The Soviet Military Encyclopedia], vol. 4,
382–387; “Military Use of Space,” Postnote, no. 273 (Parliamentary Office of Science and
Technology, December 2006), 1.
6 I. V. Meshcheryakov, V mire kosmonavtiki [In the World of Cosmonautics] (Nizhny
Novgorod: Russkiy Kupets; Bratya-Slavyane, 1996).
7 I. N. Bubnov and L. N. Kamanin, Obitaemye Kosmicheskiye Stantsii [Manned Space Sta-
tions] (Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1964), http://www.astronaut.ru/bookcase/books/kamanin5/
text/010.htm; T. S. Kelso, “Basics of the Geostationary Orbit,” Satellite Times (May 1998),
8 Bhupendra Jasani, ed., Outer Space—A New Dimension of the Arms Race (London:
SIPRI, 1982), 6–7; “Space Exploration,” Encyclopædia Britannica Online, http://search.
9 UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Technical Report on Space Debris: Text
of the Report Adopted by the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations
Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (New York: United Nations, 1999), 19.
10 UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, National Research on Space Debris,
the Safety of Space Objects With Nuclear Power Sources on Board and Problems Relating
to Their Collision With Space Debris (New York: United Nations, 2008), 7.
11 V. Myasnikov, “Kosmichesky perekhvat udalsya: Amerika beret na pritsel okolozemnoe
prostranstvo” [“The Pursuit of Outer Space Has Succeeded: America Puts Near-Earth
Outer Space in Its Sights”], Nezavisimoye Voyen. Obozreniye, February 29–March 6, 2008,
12 “Satellite Box Score,” Orbital Debris Quart. News 12, issue 4 (October 2008), 12.
13 J. West, ed., Space Security (Waterloo: spacesecurity.org, 2008), 39.
14 The inclination angle may be greater, but this results in a corresponding loss of momentum
from the Earth’s rotation, which adds to the launch vehicle’s total energy.
15 D. Wright, L. Grego, and L. Gronlund, The Physics of Space Security: A Reference Manual
(Cambridge: American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2005), 50.
16 Ibid., 79–80.
17 Ibid., 40–41.
18 A. Borisov, “Verny Sputnik,” Nats. Oborona, no. 7 (28) (July 2008), 15.
19 See, for example, articles written by the Russian minister of defense between 2001 and 2007:
S. B. Ivanov, “Vooruzhenniye Sily Rossii i ee geopoliticheskiye prioritety” [Russia’s Armed
Forces and Their Geoplitical Priorities], Rossiya v Glob. Politike. 2, no. 1 (January–February
2004), 38–51, as well as interviews with Russian Air Force chief Anatoly Kornukov published
between 1998 and 2002: O. Falichev, “Sezon okhoty’ po-amerikanski: sozdaniye sistemy
VKO edinstvenny sposob sderzhivaniya agressii iz kosmosa” [Hunting Season, American
Style: The Creation of an Aerospace Defense System Is the Only Way to Contain Aggression
from Space], Voyen.-Prom. Kuryer, no. 49 (265) (December 17–23, 2008), 7.
20 U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Technical Information Center, “Battlespace,” http://

21 Boost-Phase Intercept System for National Missile Defense: Scientific and Technical Issues
(College Park: American Physical Society Study Group, 2003), XXXVII–XXXVIII.
22 N. Gallagher and J. D. Steinbruner, Reconsidering the Rules for Space Security (Cam-
bridge: American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2008), 60–61.
23 M. A. Borchev, O voennoy kosmonavtike [On Military Cosmonautics] (Moscow: SIP
RIA, 2005), 39–41.

vAlERy bAbinTSEv
EARly STAgES Practical space activity is said to have begun on October 4, 1957,
with the Soviet Union’s launch of the world’s first artificial earth satellite from its
Baikonur Space Center, an event preceded by many years of research by teams of
scientists and engineers headed by Sergey P. Korolev and Mikhail K. Tikhonravov.

Back in early 1945, Tikhonravov assembled a group of Rocket Propulsion
Research Institute experts to develop the design of a manned high-altitude
rocket-propelled vehicle (carrying a capsule with two cosmonauts) for conduct-
ing upper-atmosphere research. It was decided that the project would be based
on the use of a single-stage liquid-fuel rocket capable of reaching an altitude of
200 kilometers in vertical flight.

This project (known as VR-190) was intended to perform the following missions:

• study the effects of weightlessness on humans in a pressurized cabin during
the brief free flight;
• study the behavior of the capsule’s center of mass and the movement of the
capsule around its center of mass upon separation from the launch vehicle; and
• obtain data on the upper layers of the atmosphere and test the systems required
for high-altitude capsules (release, descent, stabilization, landing, and so on).

vAlERy bAbinTSEv 17
The VR-190 project offered some revolutionary innovations that have since been
incorporated into modern satellites:

• a parachute system for descent, a retrorocket for soft landings, and an explosive
bolt separation system;
• an electric contact probe for timing the ignition of the soft-landing engine, and a
non-ejection pressurized cabin equipped with a life support system; and
• a system for stabilizing capsules in extra-atmospheric flight using low-
thrust jets.
Tikhonravov and his team began developing the idea for a rocket design in 1947. By
the late 1940s and the early 1950s, he had demonstrated the feasibility of achiev-
ing the first cosmic velocity and launching artificial earth satellites (AES) using the
rocket technology under development in the country at the time.

In 1953, the Soviet Union decided to build the R-7 ICBM based on the rocket
packet configuration proposed by Tikhonravov. During the test phase of this ICBM,
which had a launch weight of 280 tons, preparations were already under way to
use it as a spacecraft launch vehicle. The first very simple satellite was followed on
November 3, 1957, by a second satellite placed into a higher orbit. It also had more
sophisticated onboard equipment and carried a test animal. It remained in orbit for
160 days (the first AES stayed in orbit for 92 days). The third AES, weighing 1,327
kilograms, was launched on May 15, 1958, and stayed in orbit for 691 days. It was
used to support a program of near-earth space exploration that was considered
ambitious for the time.

The uncompromising rivalry between the USSR and the United States made outer
space development an exceptionally fast-paced affair. On January 2, 1959, an
improved R-7 launch vehicle placed an interplanetary craft on a lunar flight path,
passing within some 5,000 to 6,000 kilometers above the surface of the Moon.
Another launch on September 14 landed a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon
for the first time. An interplanetary craft launched on October 4, 1959, circled the
Moon and transmitted a television signal to earth with images of its back side.

The world’s first manned spacecraft, Vostok-1, was launched on April 12, 1961, with
Yuri Gagarin aboard. Cosmonaut Gherman Titov followed on August 6 in Vostok-2.
Four more manned craft were launched between 1962 and 1963, with 1964 seeing
the inception of multiple-man crews in space flight. Nine spacecraft were suc-
cessfully sent to the Moon between 1966 and 1970, with two of them making soft
landings on the surface.

It must be noted that the first steps of Soviet and U.S. space exploration were
accompanied by a considerable number of fatalities and accidents during launch.

U.S. space exploration began with the launch of the Explorer-1 satellite on Febru-
ary 1, 1958. The U.S. space program was headed by Wernher von Braun, who

before 1945 had been one of the leading missile technology specialists in Ger-
many. Upon coming to the United States, he used the Redstone ballistic missile
as the basis for creating the Jupiter-C launch vehicle, which was used to launch
the Explorer-1. On February 20, 1962, the Atlas launch vehicle placed into orbit the
Mercury spacecraft manned by John Glenn.

The U.S. government made strenuous efforts to lead the space race and occa-
sionally succeeded: in 1964, the United States placed the first spacecraft into geo-
stationary orbit. Its greatest success came in 1969, when U.S. astronauts landed
on the Moon in the Apollo-11 spacecraft, with Neil Armstrong and Edwin (Buzz)
Aldrin becoming the first humans ever to walk on its surface. This achievement
was made possible thanks to the Saturn launch vehicle developed under the lead-
ership of von Braun for the Apollo program in 1964–1967.

The first Soviet and U.S. successes prompted other countries to accelerate their
own space programs. U.S. vehicles launched the first British Ariel-1 spacecraft
(1962), the first Canadian Alouette-1 spacecraft (1962), and the first Italian San
Marco spacecraft (1964). These countries also began to develop their own launch
vehicles. The greatest success in this field was achieved by France, which in 1965
used a French-made Diamant-1 vehicle to launch the country’s A-1 spacecraft.
Later, France also developed the Ariane family of launch vehicles that are some of
the most cost-effective to date.

Due to the progress made in space communications, television broadcasting, relay,
navigation, and the transition to high-speed data lines, images of Mars were suc-
cessfully transmitted to earth as early as 1965 over distances exceeding 200 million
kilometers, and images of Saturn in 1980 from some 1.5 billion kilometers away.

Launch vehicle and spacecraft control system capabilities also improved substan-
tially. If the margin of error for AES orbital launches in 1957–1958 was measured
in dozens of kilometers, by the mid-1960s control system precision was already
high enough that a spacecraft launched to the Moon could land within just five
kilometers of its designated touch-down spot.

The immense scientific and technical problem of maneuvering for rendezvous
and docking were resolved in 1967 with the automatic docking of two unmanned
artificial earth satellites (Kosmos-186 and Kosmos-188), which quickly led to the
establishment of the first orbital station (USSR) and the optimization of the flight
procedures necessary for sending spacecraft to the Moon that culminated in
humans setting foot on its surface (United States).

A new stage in space development was achieved with the Apollo-Soyuz test flight
project, the final phase of which entailed launching and docking the Soyuz and
Apollo spacecraft in orbit in July 1975. This flight marked the inception of the inter-
national programs that developed successfully over the last quarter of the twenti-
eth century, and whose crowning achievement came with the production, launch,
and orbital assembly of the International Space Station.

vAlERy bAbinTSEv 19
A major achievement in the development of U.S. space technology was the cre-
ation of a reusable aerodynamic orbiter (the Space Shuttle), first launched in April
1981. Although not all of the potential of its multi-use capability was ever fully real-
ized, and it thus was unable to meet the original economic performance expecta-
tions, the orbiter was nonetheless unquestionably a major stride forward in the
exploration of space.

An important milestone was the transition from launching individual spacecraft to
the establishment of multiple-satellite systems in space to perform a wide variety
of missions (including missions for socioeconomic and scientific purposes) and to
the integration of the space industries of a number of countries.

SPACE, SCiEnCE, And nATiOnAl ECOnOmiES The developments in
astronautics proved highly beneficial for other scientific fields, as well as for the
socioeconomic sector. For example, in order to allow launch vehicles to reach
the speeds necessary for space, powerful liquid-fuel rocket engines were
developed. The development of these launch vehicles and liquid-fuel rocket
engines advanced knowledge about thermo-, hydro-, and gas dynamics, theo-
ries of heat transfer and the strength of materials, metallurgy of high-strength
and heat-resistant materials and the chemistry of propellants, as well as mea-
surement, vacuum, and plasma technologies.

Grappling with the problems that arose during preparation for and execution of
space flights also led to intense progress in celestial and theoretical mechan-
ics. The broad use of new mathematical approaches and the introduction of
advanced computers helped to solve such complex problems as the design
of spacecraft orbits and their control in flight, which in turn spawned the new
scientific discipline of space flight dynamics. Commercial satellite communica-
tions systems cover almost every country on earth and allow for immediate two-
way telephone communications with any party. This form of communications
has proven to be not only the most reliable, but has also become increasingly
profitable with time. Satellite constellations can be monitored and controlled
from a single location on earth through the use of relay systems. It is difficult
to imagine modern forms of transportation—cargo ships, civil aviation, military
hardware—and so on without satellite navigation systems.

There has also been a qualitative shift in the way manned missions are conducted.
Soviet cosmonauts first demonstrated the feasibility of functioning outside a space-
craft in the 1960s and 1970s. The 1980s and 1990s saw examples of humans living
and working in weightless environments for periods of greater than one year.

One of the first experiments in space was devoted to earth photography,
which demonstrated just how much information space observation can offer
for the discovery and rational utilization of natural resources. Systems were

successfully developed for natural resource research, environmental monitor-
ing, and photographic and optical electronic scanning of the earth’s surface.

The engineering required to complete various space research missions―from the
launch of artificial earth satellites, to the launch of interplanetary spacecraft and
manned vehicles and stations also yielded a wealth of priceless information about
our solar system. Earth satellites together with atmospheric rocket probes have
helped to collect detailed data on near-Earth space. It was with the help of the first
artificial satellites, for example, that radiation belts were discovered, the study of
which also broadened the knowledge of the interaction between the earth and the
charged particles emanating from the sun. Interplanetary space flights do much to
increase our understanding of the nature of many planetary phenomena, such as
solar winds, solar storms, and meteor showers.

Spacecraft sent to the moon transmitted back images of the Moon’s surface,
including the side not visible from earth, at resolutions considerably superior to
those producible with ground equipment. Samples were taken of the lunar soil,
and the Lunokhod-1 and Lunokhod-2 rovers were deployed on the surface.

Automated space probes have yielded additional information on the shape and
gravitational field of the earth, and clarified the finer details of its shape and mag-
netic field. Artificial satellites have been useful in obtaining more precise data about
the mass, shape, and orbit of the Moon. The masses of Venus and Mars were more
accurately estimated through the observation of spacecraft flight path behavior.

The design, production, and operation of highly complex space systems have
also made major contributions to the development of advanced technology. The
unmanned spacecraft sent to other planets have essentially been little more than
robots controlled by radio command from earth, and the need to develop reliable
systems capable of performing such tasks has advanced our understanding of
complex technical systems. Space exploration requires the fabrication of complex
automated machines that can meet the strict limits imposed by launch vehicle
payload carrying capacity and conditions in outer space, and this has led to the
rapid development of both automation and microelectronics.

The advancement of space technology has made it possible to establish space-
based meteorological service systems that can provide images of the earth’s cloud
cover, and readings in other bands of the spectrum with a high degree of periodic-
ity. These weather satellites form the basis for real-time weather forecasts, espe-
cially those that apply to large regions. Nearly every country in the world nowadays
relies on weather data obtained from space.

Orbital geodesic surveys are especially important for natural resource mapping.
Orbital equipment provides a unique ability to globally monitor environmental con-
ditions on earth and the state of its natural resources. Space imagery has proven
effective in observing crop development, detecting plant diseases, and measuring
soil factors and water conditions.

vAlERy bAbinTSEv 21
Space activity, however, brings about ecological problems just as it monitors them.
The acceleration of activity in space places increasing stress on the environment,
polluting our land, oceans, and the lower atmosphere. This pollution results mainly
from the imperfect launch technologies still in use today.

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, near-Earth space had been filled
with tens of thousands of man-made objects, including spacecraft and frag-
ments of such. There will soon be a pollution challenge in near-Earth space
to add to the already acute problem of environmental pollution on Earth. Such
problems present a unique platform for joint efforts between scientists and
engineers around the world.

The equipment used in space has played a defining role in the establishment of
unified information technology for maintaining global telecommunications, espe-
cially since the beginning of widespread Internet availability. In the future, the
Internet will continue to develop the use of high-speed broadband space-based
communications channels.

Manned spaceflight is a crucial tool for the further development of science, the ratio-
nal utilization of the Earth’s natural resources, and enhanced environmental monitor-
ing of land and sea. These ends will require the introduction of manned spacecraft
capable of not only near-Earth orbital flight but also of flights to other planets.

SPACE And miliTARy ACTiviTiES The development of astronautics in
countries around the world has been closely associated with national defense.
This is not coincidental: the equipment required to deliver spacecraft to orbit was
based on military rockets manufactured by defense contractors under order by the
armed forces, which naturally conceived of satellites in terms of pursuing military
goals, and first used them for conducting photographic and radio reconnaissance,
as well as for communications, navigation, and geodesic survey support.

The Soviet Union’s 1961 launch of the Zenit-2 photo-reconnaissance satellite, the
first spacecraft to be exclusively devoted to military missions, ushered in a new
stage of military activities in space. Over ten satellites of this type were launched
in the succeeding two years, after which the first orbital complex entered service.

In 1966–1976, improved photo-reconnaissance spacecraft of this same Zenit
series, as well as orbital complexes for radio and electronic intelligence, radar
intelligence, alignment, geodesic survey support, space communications systems,
meteorological observation, and navigation, entered service. Efforts toward the
creation of a space-based missile early-warning system were also initiated at that
time, with four experimental satellites launched in 1972–1976.

The development and use of space systems in the United States began at the
same time and proceeded along similar lines. The first experimental reconnais-

sance satellite, Discovery-1, was launched on February 28, 1959. This series of
spacecraft was used to develop the equipment and techniques needed for con-
ducting reconnaissance from orbit. During the 1960s, the Samos series of space-
craft was used to carry out imagery intelligence, the Ferret spacecraft was used
for electronic intelligence, the Skor and Syncom satellites were developed for com-
munications, and the Tiros satellite was launched to collect weather information.
Particular importance was attached to space-based missile launch early-warning
systems and Earth-based nuclear detonation detection systems.
Figure 1. The Almaz military orbital space station assembly shop

In the 1970s the more sophisticated LASP series of reconnaissance spacecraft,
capable of greater surveillance detail and having a wide visibility field, were devel-
oped and introduced into service. The Rhyolite satellite, which used a large antenna
to intercept European radio communications, was placed into geostationary orbit
for the first time. Orbital communication, navigation, and weather support systems
also continued to improve rapidly, as did missile attack early warning systems.

During this same period, a communications system was also deployed in geosta-
tionary orbit, and the first satellites appeared from such countries as Britain and
Canada. Notwithstanding the numerous orbital systems that were introduced at
the time, the total number of satellite constellations continued to remain low, due to
the short service life of satellites orbiting at lower altitudes. The subsequent transi-
tion to a new generation of orbital systems and complexes that had significantly
longer service lives and improved on-board equipment and data delivery systems
represented a qualitative leap forward in the military use of orbital systems.

The deployment of permanent satellite systems and complexes in orbital constel-
lations to achieve a variety of purposes improved information support for the activi-
ties of the armed forces, and the scope of the tasks performed by orbital systems
expanded considerably. The first large-scale practical use of orbital systems in

vAlERy bAbinTSEv 23
support of combat operations came during the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf, when
coalition forces relied on orbital resources throughout the operation. Over the
course of this conflict, the space command was primarily responsible for intel-
ligence and communications; assessments of enemy target damage; navigational,
topological, and geodesic surveys; and meteorological support.

Of predominant importance in obtaining intelligence from space were the capa-
bilities of the United States, which by the start of combat operations had deployed
a constellation of 29 satellites, which helped to identify nearly all of the enemy’s
ground force emplacements, aircraft bases, missile elements and units, and other
militarily or economically important targets with a high degree of confidence.

During combat operations, new tactical applications, such as investigating the
possibility of using data from the space-based IMEWS ballistic missile launch
early-warning system to improve the tactical effectiveness of the Patriot missile
defense systems, were developed for the orbital reconnaissance systems. The
early deployment of the satellite constellation made these capabilities available.

The coalition command made extensive use of satellite communications systems
to establish contact with units down to the tactical level, and took full advantage of
the NAVSTAR global positioning system’s navigation field to improve the accuracy
of aircraft attacks at night and to make flight corrections in the trajectories of
cruise and air-launched missiles. Weather reports based on data from orbit were
used to prepare and modify aircraft flight plans.

The great importance of military orbital systems to coalition operations in the
Persian Gulf conflict stimulated the development of new techniques for their tac-
tical application in combat. Experts have called the Persian Gulf War “the first
space war of our era.”

Space systems were even more extensively used throughout the operations in
the former Yugoslavia for planning missile strikes and bombing runs; performing
damage assessment; and providing topological, geodesic survey, and meteoro-
logical support. The space-based navigation system was considered particularly
important, as the information it provided allowed precision-guided weapons to be
used around the clock and under all weather conditions.

An impressive amount of satellite data was used during the 2003 Iraq war, which
became something of a testing ground for new types of weapons and military
equipment. These naturally included orbital systems, using various military and
commercial surveillance satellites and communications, navigation and meteoro-
logical spacecraft, as well as missile launch early-warning satellites. According to
publicly accessible sources, the satellite constellation during the war comprised
50 to 59 military spacecraft having a variety of mission goals, 28 satellites in the
NAVSTAR system, and a large number of commercial communications and remote
Earth-sensing satellites.

Figure 2. Integrated space, air, and land reconnaissance and targeting system

The United States began preparing for the use of its orbital resources long
before the invasion. The Department of Defense attached particular impor-
tance to training highly qualified military experts who could efficiently accom-
plish the operational goals of combat military support, thus enabling the U.S. Air
Force Space Command to assign well-prepared specialists to traditional joint
command posts.

The U.S. Space Command was most fully represented by the Combined Air and
Space Operations Center at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, which was
responsible for the timely coordination of space systems during the planning and
execution of military operations. The Air Force would coordinate its bombing mis-
sions to make sure that the Global Positioning System satellites were optimally
situated above the battlefield, to obtain weather and target imaging data, and
to make use of satellite communication channels. In addition, Space Command
experts kept the staffs of the various branches of the armed forces informed
about current capabilities and other possibilities for integrating both military and
commercial orbital systems into combat operations.

Recent research and the experience gained from military conflicts, in particular,
have enabled the United States to lay the foundation for integrated inter-services
reconnaissance and weapons systems. The concept of joint temporally and
spatially coordinated operations using reconnaissance and combat aircraft and

vAlERy bAbinTSEv 25
space-based reconnaissance satellites integrated into a single system (Fig. 2)
represents a qualitatively new stage in the development of warfare.

Such integrated systems have a number of distinguishing features. One is the
tactical versatility of the aviation and space components, with each capable of
independent operation in accordance with the particular tactical situation. Another
is the combat stability of the system due to its multi-level nature, as well as its
capability for providing continuous, all-weather surveillance from orbit.

Diversified systems operate under a rather simple, but effective algorithm. Orbital
surveillance systems (electronic and optical-electronic) scan areas of interest at
high rates of view and deliver the collected data quickly, revealing target locations
in real time. The target data obtained are then transmitted to troop and weapon
command points and/or directly to air strike forces, which simultaneously under-
take additional reconnaissance and attack efforts, thus implementing the “seek
and destroy” mission.

Space-based navigation systems played a significant role in the second Iraq war,
above all with the use of the NAVSTAR system for targeting precision-guided
weapons (some data suggest that up to 95 percent of all weapons used in 2003
were of that type, compared to 7 percent in 1991).

This transition to satellite guidance systems resulted in a dramatic increase in the
number of aircraft capable of firing precision-guided weapons against ground tar-
gets. In 1991, there were only 98 general-purpose tactical aircraft with this ability;
in 2003, nearly all (some 600) of the combat aircraft taking part in the operation
were outfitted with precision-guided weapons.

Even more significant for the coalition forces was the widespread use of global
positioning system data. Combat operations in Iraq also underscored the tremen-
dous role satellite communications capabilities (utilizing military communications
networks and numerous commercial systems) have to play in troop command
and control during both the lead-up to and the execution of combat operations.
Satellite telephones based on the civilian Globalstar, Inmarsat, or Iridium satel-
lite personal communications networks became widely used for communication
among mobile units and even between individual servicemen and their com-
manders or with each other.

Analyses of the use of space systems in local conflicts has definitively confirmed
both the need for and the high effectiveness of using so-called space support
teams established at different levels of command. During the conflict in Yugosla-
via in 1999, in order to coordinate its diversified reconnaissance activities and to
make optimum use of the information received, NATO created a special unit within
its Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe to address the use of space sys-
tems, dispatching some two dozen mobile field teams to the battlefield to provide
air and sea force commanders with satellite information at the tactical level.

The Russian army has also gained a certain amount of positive experience
from using space support units to provide pre-strategic and tactical support in
combat training exercises.

There are over 150 operational or orbital reserve spacecraft that make up informa-
tion-support constellations. On the whole, about 40 percent of all current satellites
are active military spacecraft, which can be deployed in any class of orbit. About
25 percent of the spacecraft are concentrated in low orbits, 20 percent in interme-
diate orbit, and 55 percent in high elliptical or geostationary orbit. Although Russia,
the United States, and other NATO countries all have their own military space-
craft, the overwhelming majority belongs to the United States, which has a mili-
tary space program budget that is considerably larger than those of all the other
“space-capable” nations combined (about 20 times greater than that of Russia).1

The establishment and deployment of large-scale constellations in near-Earth
space, the strategic nature of the tasks they perform, the emergence of space-
based systems that are capable of actively engaging individual targets (either
destroying or neutralizing them), and the introduction of combat-capable space
systems may all be seen as preconditions for space to become a new arena for
armed conflict.

As noted above, military space systems must provide information to the armed
forces from orbit in support of their operations. The space systems that will carry
out this mission are to be developed along two interrelated directions:

• development of space systems according to wartime requirements for reso-
lution, productivity, periodicity, rapidity of deployment, survivability, and other
factors; and
• dissemination of information from space through to the lowest levels in the
chain of command, and eventually to the individual soldier.
The technical basis for the above would be the development of small (light) space-
craft and launch vehicles, that is, a transition to a new stage of scientific and tech-
nical development characterized by significant electronics miniaturization. At the
moment, it costs between 88,000 and 220,000 USD per kilogram to manufacture
large military spacecraft, but this cost can be reduced to 17,000 dollars per kilo-
gram for small spacecraft.

Experts cite the following advantages in the use of small spacecraft:

• lower costs and shorter development and manufacturing time frames;
• lower (absolute) cost of orbital deployment;
• fewer limitations on the numbers of spacecraft deployed; and
• greater survivability of spacecraft due to their greater numbers.

vAlERy bAbinTSEv 27
Other major advantages of the use of small spacecraft systems include:

• greater flexibility that comes from being able to distribute functions that are cur-
rently being performed by a single traditional spacecraft among several small
satellites; this also makes it possible to launch inexpensive small spacecraft
rapidly in times of crisis;
• improved stability that comes from using a “distributive” architecture for the
orbits of small spacecraft, in which the loss of one or several satellites of the
constellation presents less of an impediment to the pursuit of military goals;
• accelerated rate of introduction of the latest technology owing to shortened
production time, increased numbers of small spacecraft manufactured, and fre-
quency of launches;
• greater reliance on commercial systems, inasmuch as the potential that the
commercial space industry represents is more effectively utilized by developing
small spacecraft systems, and it would be possible to utilize individual elements
or even entire systems that have been created for commercial purposes.
These small spacecraft systems would be created and deployed primarily to
accomplish tactical goals, such as providing communications within the theaters
of military operations, observing movements of enemy forces, receiving data relat-
ing to damage assessment, and carrying out individual experiments.

In the United States, the use of small spacecraft for military purposes has already
entered the practical application phase, with the small SSU spacecraft developed
for its Naval Ocean Surveillance System satellite program and the MB small space-
craft used during the crisis in the Balkans in 1999. The United States has been
actively developing and using launch vehicles that accelerate the time for putting
spacecraft into orbit, including small spacecraft. It currently takes up to 60 days to
prepare the carrier rockets for launching military satellites into orbit. Although light
carriers, such as the Pegasus and Taurus class, require the least amount of time
to deploy, it still takes seven to eight days to prepare a mobile Taurus vehicle for
launch, plus an additional 70 hours after getting the launch order. The Pegasus-xL
booster, which launches from an aircraft, has better time characteristics, deter-
mined only by the speed at which the aircraft reaches the release point.

The ability to transmit information from orbit through to the lowest levels of the
chain of command and down to the individual soldier was not possible before
the end of the twentieth century, when the first compact intelligent devices
appeared and changed the nature of modern warfare. Since 1993, the United
States has been implementing a Soldier Modernization Plan, the main goal of
which is to improve the combat capabilities of the individual soldier. Under this
plan, the United States will pursue the development not only of individual weap-
ons systems of various special types, but also of combat gear that must neces-
sarily include support technologies for command (communications), navigation,
and the display of information, which could be supplemented in the future with

weapons control, personal protection, and camouflage. This would enhance the
individual soldier’s ability to carry out combat missions under any conditions and
increase his autonomy exponentially as a result.

The growing importance of space for achieving basic military aims in the twenty-
first century may lead to the development and deployment of space-based military
systems able to participate in military operations. Their mission objectives would
include protection of friendly satellites, provision of unimpeded access to space,
denial of access to space for use by a potential enemy, elimination of land-based
command centers, and disruption of satellite systems, and may culminate in the
use of space combat systems to attack ground targets.

On the eve of the twenty-first century, the technology also appeared for wag-
ing information warfare and non-lethal attacks on humans. In the future, systems
based on these technologies could be mounted on spacecraft and deliver mass
attacks against selected regions. A detailed analysis of the problems this involves
is presented in the following chapter.

1 See Voennoy-Promyshlennyi kompleks: Entsiklopediya [The Military-Industrial Complex
Encyclopedia], vol. 1. (Moscow: Voennyi Parad, 2005)

vAlERy bAbinTSEv 29

vlAdimiR dvORkin
The missions and major phases of development of military and dual-use orbital
support systems were described in detail in the preceding chapter. A description
of space weapons development (foremost in the United States and Russia) fol-
lows below, in particular, strike systems using various basing modes and designed
against spacecraft and targets in different other environments. Their development
and deployment remains in various stages of implementation. If activated and pur-
sued, they could in the foreseeable future trigger both symmetric and asymmetric
countermeasures, including a buildup of strategic offensive arms that could desta-
bilize the global political and military environment.

In general, space weapons may be classified into three categories: kinetic energy
weapons, directed energy weapons, and conventional munitions delivered to or
from orbit, and they can be space-based, land-based, air-based, or sea-based.
They can be assigned strike missions against missiles, satellites, aircraft, or tar-
gets on the Earth’s surface or at sea.

Active development of such weapons was begun in the USSR and the United
States in the first half of the 1960s, and the two nations’ plans were initially
similar in content in many ways and focused on establishing land-based, air-
based, and space-based antisatellite systems armed with various types of
weapons (including lasers, and super-high-frequency and kinetic weapons),
strategic and tactical antimissile defense systems, and various penetration
aids against these defenses.

vlAdimiR dvORkin 31
USSR/RUSSiA ASymmETRiC RESPOnSES The Soviet Union embarked
on its IS (satellite interceptor) program in the 1960s. The system was intended for
destroying especially important hardened spacecraft, based in low orbits, using
kinetic kill systems. All of the main elements of this complex were built by 1967,
with tests beginning in October of that year. The first intercept mission was suc-
cessfully accomplished on November 1, 1968. The IS complex was accepted for
experimental operation in February 1973. It was capable of destroying spacecraft
at altitudes ranging from 250 to 1,000 kilometers. The complex was later mod-
ernized and its intercept altitude increased, and it was commissioned for military
service under the designation IS-M in 1978. The Soviet Union resumed tests of
this antisatellite system (under the designation IS-MU) in April 1980. More than 20
full-scale experiments were conducted in all, with 25 percent of them against real
targets. The system’s last test was conducted on June 18, 1982.1 In August 1983,
the USSR vowed not to deploy any weapon in space so long as “other countries
refrained from deploying any type of antisatellite weapon in space.” 2 The IS-MU
system remained in service until 1993, when President Boris Yeltsin issued a
decree ordering its withdrawal.3

Development of the Kontakt airborne missile system continued until the early
1990s. This system was meant to be carried by the MiG-31 fighter interceptor to
destroy spacecraft orbiting at altitudes of up to 600 kilometers. However, due to
funding cuts, the testing of the deployed weapons was never completed.

The largest projects, which had been approved as early as the late 1970s, were
related to the creation of the Kaskad and Skif antisatellite orbital stations armed
with both missile and laser weapons. The antisatellite missiles were to be flight-
tested in 1985–1986, but this never happened, and the orbital station was never
built. This was probably due to political and military reasons rather than techno-
logical or financial ones. Experts managed to convince the Soviet leadership that
the orbital deployment and testing of such military space systems would trigger a
disproportionate military response in outer space by the United States that would
be extremely disadvantageous to the USSR.

Work on space weapons in the Soviet Union was accelerated in the early
1980s in response to the launching of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initia-
tive. Although U.S. President Ronald Reagan officially announced the pro-
gram on March 23, 1983, secret and public information on nearly all of the
developments in this field became available to Moscow well before then. As
the overwhelming majority of all U.S. and Soviet work on space weapons,
antimissile defenses, and antimissile defense penetration aids had already
been conducted with varying degrees of intensity for some 20 years, the
announcement of this program had a mostly political effect and hindered
the nuclear weapons limitation and reduction talks. It did not threaten to
diminish the nuclear deterrence potential of the Soviet Union in the near
term, especially as Ronald Reagan immediately underscored the complex-
ity of the work and his country’s inability to complete it within the century.

In addition, competent Soviet scientists came to the conclusion rather
quickly that the cost of the Star Wars program and of potential Soviet coun-
termeasures were not comparable.

Nevertheless, the announcement of the SDI program proved a powerful incen-
tive for the Soviet Union’s influential military-industrial complex, and high-ranking
military authorities immediately began lobbying for its proposals. In 1985, Soviet
pilot projects were structured along both symmetrical and asymmetrical lines,
and formalized as the SK-1000, D-20, and SP-2000 programs.4 U.S. plans to
create orbital weapon systems added new impetus to Soviet efforts to develop
asymmetrical methods for overcoming space-based ballistic missile defense
(BMD) systems. Work on penetrating land-based BMD systems with land- and
sea-launched ballistic missiles has continued uninterrupted since the 1960s.
Before the emergence of the Star Wars program, this work focused primarily on
the creation of an effective complex for penetrating BMD systems featuring light,
intermediate, and heavy false targets, as well as active signal jamming stations.
The guiding principle behind BMD defense penetration, which still holds true
today, has been to saturate its information capabilities and firepower by launching
the greatest possible number of missiles. This was a function not only of the total
number of missiles available in service, but also of the survivability of the launch-
ers and missiles under various strike scenarios.

In order to ensure adequate missile survivability against the steadily improving pre-
cision of U.S. missiles, the Soviet Union repeatedly undertook to improve the struc-
tural hardness of its launch silos. Once this became ineffective, the USSR began to
develop road- and rail-mobile missile systems for its Strategic Missile Forces (SMF)
even before the U.S. Star Wars program. The number of ballistic missile submarines
in the sea was also increased, although this had less to do with countering BMD
defenses than it did with the fact that the performance characteristics of many of
the vessels prevented their large-scale deployment on combat patrol.

To improve the survivability of missiles in flight, the Soviets focused primarily on
developing land-based ICBMs, which are less constrained by weight and size
limitations than sea-launched missiles and thus are able to use some of their
power to carry additional means for protection and BMD system penetration.
At the same time, a set of measures was planned that would increase the total
number of launchers and improve their survivability, leading to a new generation
of ICBMs with enhanced capabilities.

Soviet strategic missile force options were elaborated for the event of a full-scale
BMD system deployment by the United States, and included a potential deploy-
ment of Soviet combat spacecraft and land-based ICBMs. In preparation for the
worst-case scenario, the USSR made provisions to increase its total number of
launchers from 1,398 to nearly 1,700 units. It also examined the option of deploying
up to 1,200 mobile Topol ICBM and Kuryer (small-ICBM) launchers by 2005.

vlAdimiR dvORkin 33
The mobile Topol missile complexes and rail-based mobile missile systems that
were initially deployed in the latter half of the 1980s improved the SMF’s surviv-
ability in the event of a counterstrike and increased the ability to saturate the likely
U.S. BMD system at all levels. However, this was not felt to be enough: the means
were also needed to overcome the U.S. system’s anticipated orbital BMD assets
using kinetic and laser weapons that had been developed to destroy missiles dur-
ing their boost acceleration. Development to this end was pursued using two of
the most powerful, so-called modular types of ground-based ICBMs (the R-36M
and the UR-100H UTTH – SS-18 and SS-19). The project design documents
indicate that the second stages of these missiles were composed of bundles of
several missiles, each with its own re-entry vehicles, guidance systems, and BMD
penetration aids. After completion of the first stage burn, the second stage would
“break apart” into several independent missiles, leading to additional saturation of
the BMD defenses. This intriguing line of work ended at the project design stage
and was not pursued further.

Another fruitful line of pursuit involved the development of an ICBM re-entry glider
to avoid the classically problematic passive phase of the flight at apogee altitudes
of over 1,000 kilometers, where the missile and its warheads at separation are
most vulnerable to orbital BMD. Upon completion of the boost portion of the flight,
the missile would appear to nose-dive toward the ground, accelerating and releas-
ing the warhead glider, which would fly to the target in the upper atmosphere.

Other work focused on considerably reducing the altitude and duration of the
boost portion of the flight of solid-fuel missiles, thus also improving their surviv-
ability. This was accomplished by using part of the energy capacity of the missile
at the expense of its payload, which was considered justified. This line of research
eventually culminated in Russia’s development of the Topol-M land-based and
Bulava sea-based missile systems.

There are many reasons why Russia will be unable to implement such large-scale
symmetrical and asymmetrical projects in the foreseeable future, including the
disintegration of the versatile Soviet design corporations and a severe shortage
of funds. That said, if the United States chooses to deploy antisatellite weapons,
some of these projects, especially those based on asymmetric measures, might
be resumed despite the heavy burden they place on the national budget.

The United States began developing antisatellite systems in 1957, and as early
as 1962 had produced antisatellite interceptors with nuclear warheads on the
Nike-Zeus and Thor missiles that were operationally deployed on Johnston
Island. The United States introduced two such antisatellite systems (ASAT)
between 1972 and 1974, when they were withdrawn from operational status
and mothballed.

In 1977, within the framework of its ASAT program, the United States began devel-
opment on a new-generation antisatellite system designed to destroy satellites
with its miniature homing vehicle fired from an F-15 aircraft into a vertical trajectory
on a SRAM-Altair booster. Its altitude, however, was limited to 1,000 kilometers. In
1984–1985, this ASAT underwent flight tests against real space targets. It was esti-
mated that the system would allow the United States to destroy between three and
five spacecraft in low-Earth orbits of under 1,000 kilometers within 24–36 hours.

Work on this system was terminated in 1988 for a number of technical and political
reasons, and the system was mothballed. It is estimated that the system could
be made mission-capable again within a matter of months. This decision did not
mean that the United States had completely rejected the idea of developing ASAT,
including the land-, air-, and sea-based components of the system.

A new stage of work on ASAT began in 1989. This time, the United States placed
most of its chips on the development of a land-based ASAT. By 1991, it already had
a draft plan for an “environmentally clean” Kinetic Energy Antisatellite (KEAsat)
interceptor that supposedly eliminated fragmentation. 5 ASATs equipped with such
interceptors, would supposedly be able to destroy all near-Earth military satellites
within a week. According to development plans, these interceptors would carry a
Teflon sheet with a surface area of 113 m2 that would unfurl shortly before impact
with the target and “envelop” the spacecraft in the sheet, thus preventing the
resulting debris (fragments of both the satellite and the interceptor) from spread-
ing. However, it seems likely that in reality the interceptor’s high-speed encounter
with its target would involve such a large amount of kinetic energy that no sheet
could ever be capable of preventing the scattering of the enormous number of
fragments produced.

Initial plans for this system called for seven test flights, with two live intercepts
of decommissioned U.S. satellites and five close flybys of orbiting spacecraft.
The first ten military KEAsat systems were due to start operation in June 1998.
Although this never happened, the United States did collect and preserve the criti-
cal technological assets that had been developed.

A number of U.S. antisatellite projects have now reached the experimental proto-
type development stage. Various development prototypes have already undergone
flight tests. For example, flight tests have been conducted on the KEAsat space
interceptor, which was developed within the framework of the SDI program on
the basis of the modernized, small-sized Brilliant Pebbles interceptor.6 It would be
quite feasible to deploy a ground-based ASAT equipped with such interceptors. It
has been said that the KEAsat system could be built very quickly should President
Obama decide to deploy it, because it is a successor to the EKV-PLV anti-ballistic
missile system currently being tested.7

The Rockwell International Corporation won a contract to develop a land-based
antisatellite demonstration system in 1990, in the form of a mobile tractor-trailer

vlAdimiR dvORkin 35
complex with a three-stage booster rocket and an interceptor similar in design to
the Brilliant Pebbles interceptor. During the initial stage, between 60 and 79 anti-
satellite missiles were to have been deployed; enough to outfit a single battery;
plans then called for forming two batteries of 48 launchers each. Given the appro-
priate political will, these types of ASAT missiles, which are capable of disabling
satellites very expeditiously, could be deployed quite easily.

Another possible ASAT component would be the use of one or two terrestrial
laser weapon systems based on the existing antisatellite MIRACLE (Mid-Infrared
Advanced Chemical Laser) (which has been incorporated into the laser test facility
at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico) to functionally dis-
able the most vital information-gathering satellites. The first successful live tests
of the laser were performed in the United States in October 1997, and consisted of
two laser pulses fired directly at an MSTI-3 satellite. Subsequent assessment indi-
cated that this laser produces enough energy to disable solar panels or damage
the optical electronic equipment of satellites orbiting at altitudes of between 400
and 700 kilometers, and would also be able to cause a total loss of sensitivity in
early-warning and Earth-surveillance satellites in any orbit (including geostation-
ary) by directly overexposing their photoreceptors.8

The United States has also continued to develop a space-based laser weapon
system (SBL) based on an orbital antimissile and antisatellite platform to destroy
targets at ranges of 1,000 to 3,000 kilometers. U.S. experts continue to view such
SBLs as potential weapons for use against ballistic missiles at any range by tar-
geting them during their boost phase (at altitudes of 10 kilometers or higher).
Aside from using them as a component of the BMD system, the United States is
also considering using SBLs as a potential weapon against low- and intermedi-
ate-orbit satellites, as well as against aircraft targeted over distances of several
hundred to several thousand kilometers.

Two space experiments conducted in 1990 demonstrated the high precision with
which the laser beam could acquire and stably track its target for extended peri-
ods. Its adaptive optics made it possible to develop the technology of compensat-
ing for the distortion to the laser beam as it passes through the atmosphere. These
experiments demonstrated the theoretical feasibility of the United States’ using
SBLs to create a system for detection, tracking, guidance, and beam control.9

At the same time, despite some progress in the SBL program, key problems
remained with delivering the full-scale laser weapon into orbit, replenishing the
SBL’s complex laser components in orbit, and so on. With a number of questions
remaining inadequately addressed, the entire space-based laser weapon system
program was returned to the stage of technological development, the manage-
ment team of the SBL program was dismissed, and all the work in this field was
transferred to a newly created administrator named Laser Technologies, which
became an integral part of the program for developing an airborne laser weapon
system. It thus appears likely that none of the scientific research and experimen-

tal studies conducted on this project will move beyond the “technological” stage,
at least for the foreseeable future.

The foremost project currently under active development is an airborne laser weapon
system that features an antimissile and antisatellite system. In August 2007, the
United States successfully completed a scheduled series of preliminary flight tests
on a low-power laser installation, and ground tests on a flight-ready, megawatt-class
combat laser. This system was designed as part of the theater BMD to attack ballistic
missiles immediately after launch, as well as low-Earth-orbit satellites.10

The following antisatellite systems are currently at the most advanced stages
of design development and ground and flight testing:

• the AEGIS Mk7 modified sea-based missile defense (antisatellite) system using
STANDARD-3 (SM-3) missiles and Boeing guided kinetic warheads;
• the Army’s ground-based mobile system developed under the KEAsat
• the airborne laser antisatellite and antimissile system; and
• the ground-based MIRACLE antisatellite laser complex used to functionally dis-
able the most vital information-gathering satellites.
Work on space-based laser weapon systems that feature antisatellite and antimis-
sile orbital platforms has progressed from the research and development stage to
the technological development stage, but for the foreseeable future it is unlikely
to progress further.

The following are at the stage of exploratory research and experimentation:

• Space-Earth systems;
• a multiple-use space maneuvering vehicle (SMV);
• orbital electronic countermeasure equipment; and
• orbital inspection technologies.
Although the United States first began developing systems that could destroy
ground objects from space concurrently with the appearance of the very first sat-
ellites, the first realistic engineering designs of such a weapon did not appear until
1987. The Strategic Boost Glide Vehicle project was designed to deliver sudden
and precise strikes against strategically important targets located in the heart of
the enemy’s defenses, especially mobile missile launchers and surface ships.

According to the originally published plans, this device was to have had its first
flight tests by 2002. However, nothing has been written about such tests in the
public press since.

The logical continuation of such work was the reusable SMV program. The Boe-
ing Company has spent a number of years under contract with the U.S. Air Force

vlAdimiR dvORkin 37
working on this vehicle, which has been designed to operate in orbits from parking
to geostationary in pursuit of a number of military goals, including the rapid launch
of lightweight satellites, inspection or elimination of space objects, orbital control,
and observation and transport of general-purpose aircraft, small guided missiles,
or even hypersonic strike gliders armed with armor-piercing warheads for striking
terrestrial hard targets.11

The SMV was originally intended as a vehicle that would be capable of carrying
out nearly any of the mission types associated with military operations in or from
space. However, its relatively small payload of around 500 kilograms is currently
considered a serious limitation. In 1998, a 0.85-scale SMV called the x-40 was
produced to help developers design and operate the vehicle. The first successful
tests of an x-40A were conducted at New Mexico’s Holloman Air Force Base in
August 1998; its flight test program ended in July 2001.12

To launch the standard model of the SMV, Boeing has proposed initially using the
three-stage solid-fuel rockets from its AirLaunch program. It would be possible to
quickly deliver the SMV into orbit at various inclinations by using a Boeing-747 as
a flying launch platform. Experts predict that, should the project win final approval,
the first launch of the SMV AirLaunch system could take place within the next few
years.13 However, in light of the existing shortcomings and limitations of the SMV,
in particular the size of its payload, the U.S. Air Force has decided to continue to
refine the design of the SMV project.

Notwithstanding published reports about the development of spacecraft that
could destroy targets in the heart of an enemy’s territory, it is worth noting that
under present conditions, the operational and strategic need for such systems
remains highly doubtful. The laws of orbital dynamics preclude stationing systems
permanently in orbit above or within striking range of their targets (except for those
in geostationary orbits), there are limitations on payload weight, and the mission
costs are generally high. The main concern is that such an orbital or fractionally
orbital weapon would not perform more effectively than an equivalent land-, air-, or
sea-based system, especially if based near the borders of the potential opponent.

The United States attaches great importance to the role of counter-information
weapons in carrying out radio-electronic warfare in and from space. Indirect evi-
dence of this comes from its current efforts to protect U.S. space-based systems
from electronic warfare. For example, the U.S. telecommunications system’s National
Coordinating Center was transformed into the National Telecommunications and
Information Exchange in January 2000, with a new role focusing on assessment of
system vulnerability and survivability, and analysis of threats and anomalies affecting
the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure. The importance of these activities may
also explain the data that have appeared about recent electronic countermeasures
development work. During a series of Senate hearings, it was disclosed that the U.S.
Air Force in 2004 had created the 76th space control squadron, which was to use
terrestrial active jamming stations to destroy or disable foreign satellites.

Extensive work has also been carried out in the field of orbital inspection tech-
nologies, especially within the framework of the Autonomous Nanosatellite
Guardian for Evaluating Local Space (ANGELS) program, which the U.S. Depart-
ment of Defense began financing in 2005. This program involves the develop-
ment of autonomous micro-spacecraft designed to safeguard and inspect U.S.
spacecraft, but that can also be used to inspect and attack a potential enemy’s
satellites. In 2005, the Lockheed Martin Corporation won a contract from the U.S.
Air Force’s research laboratory to develop an autonomous micro-spacecraft for
the ANGELS inspection program.

The results of this dual-purpose program are applicable both to electronic war-
fare and space defense. According to experts at the U.S. Center for Defense
Information, autonomous micro-spacecraft built with ANGELS technology could
be equipped either with radio transmitters for creating radio interference or with
paint-spraying equipment that blocks the optical equipment of other spacecraft.
An experimental inspection micro-spacecraft was to be launched into geosta-
tionary orbit in 2009. The development of electronic warfare capabilities focuses
in particular on programs for developing high-power orbital radio frequency
transmitters that can either destroy or disable the electronic equipment of com-
bat control and space-based communications systems, or disable the enemy’s
missile attack early warning satellites.

For the future, the real technological groundwork has already been laid for using
existing radio technology to develop space-based electronic warfare equipment.
Large-area antennas are the key to increasing the energy potential of onboard
space-based electronic warfare systems. By the beginning of the 1970s, the
United States had already deployed in orbit a nine-meter parabolic mirror antenna
designed for a top working frequency of 8.25 GHz. The Rhyolite spacecraft was
equipped with a specially developed 15-meter antenna (which had a top work-
ing frequency of 9 GHz). Development work continues on a mirror antenna of 55
meters in diameter and 320 kilograms in weight. Designs for 15-, 30-, and 100-
meter parabolic mirror antennas with frequencies up to 12-18 GHz have also been
developed. The technology for building large antennas with apertures measured
in hundreds of meters could be developed over the next few years. Development
is progressing on space-based adjustable phased-array antennas. Based on avail-
able data, single-component mirror antennas with gain factors of up to 50 dB, as
well as multi-cell antennas with diameters of up to 200 meters and enhancement
factors of up to 100 dB, could be built in the near future.

Space-based electronic warfare systems to disrupt space-to-Earth, space-to-
space, and Earth-to-space radio communications could probably be service-ready
in the near future. A space-based anti-communications satellite electronic war-
fare system could include up to two to four electronic warfare satellites operating
in stationary orbits and equipped with four to eight interference transmitters. In
standby mode, they could have a service life of several years.

vlAdimiR dvORkin 39
ChinA’S AnTiSATElliTE dEbUT After three earlier failures, China conducted
its first successful antisatellite weapons test in 2007. According to media reports,
a Chinese Fengyun-1-3 spacecraft was destroyed, and its fragments identified on
January 11–12, 2007. This 954-kilogram, serially produced satellite was launched
from China’s Taiyuan Launch Center (otherwise known as the Wuzhai Space and
Missile Test Center) on May 10, 1999, and until the time of its destruction was a
component of China’s weather observation system.14

The satellite was destroyed at an altitude of 864 kilometers over central China,
with a correlation noted between the time of its destruction and the launch of an
intermediate-range ballistic missile from China’s xichang Satellite Launch Center.
It is noteworthy that there had been no information publicly available to indicate
that China had been preparing either to launch a ballistic missile from its xichang
Satellite Launch Center, or to test elements of its antisatellite weapons, aside from
the fact that certain zones of Chinese airspace had been reserved in advance
and closed to aviation. The location of these reserved airspace zones confirms
that they were related to the detected ballistic missile launch, suggesting that the
destruction of the satellite had been associated with the firing of the ballistic mis-
sile, and that this had been a test of an antisatellite weapon.

In light of the above, it can be concluded that China has the scientific and tech-
nological foundation to conduct military operations in space and is continuing to
develop this expertise.

STRATEgiC COnCEPTS And nATiOnAl inTERESTS The United States,
Russia, and China are all capable of employing their current potential for space
militarization in the foreseeable future. The United States is the indisputable
leader, with its diverse arsenal of advanced space technologies and the accu-
mulated scientific and technical experience to build and potentially place various
types of sea-based and land-based (stationary and mobile) antisatellite systems
into service sometime after 2010.

The deployment of such weapons has been doctrinally anticipated and justified in
the fundamental concepts of U.S. national space policy. The “United States Space
Command Vision for 2020,” for example, defined the key areas of activity as:

• the development of approaches and methods for the full control of space;
• the search for new approaches and methods for waging global warfare (includ-
ing the potential capability to bring force to bear from space against any region
on Earth) and full functional integration between military space forces and land,
air, and sea forces; and
• the broad integration of information technologies into promising weapon sys-
tems for all levels of military operations.15

Specific steps in this direction were laid out in a report published in January 2001
by the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Manage-
ment and Organization (the Rumsfeld Commission),16 which as a whole outlined a
comprehensive program for U.S. dominance in space.

As the U.S. leadership sees it, the militarization of space and development of BMD
systems is impelled by:

• the potential for future proliferation of nuclear weapons, especially nuclear-
armed missiles;
• a steady trend toward the blurring of the boundaries between the military and
civilian use of space;
• technical development and production similarities between BMD and ASAT
systems; and
• declining Russian activity in space and increasing space activity by nations that
are openly or potentially hostile to the United States.
In January 2001, the Congressionally authorized Commission on Space
strongly recommended that the United States retain the option of deploying
weapons in space, while at the same time identifying three potential mission
goals for such weapons:

• to protect existing U.S. orbital systems;
• to interfere with enemy use of space and space systems; and
• to attack any ground, sea, or air targets from space.17
On August 31, 2006, President Bush authorized a new National Space Policy that
superseded the Presidential Decision Directive NSC-49/NSTC-8 (U.S. National
Space Policy) of September 14, 1996, and identified the main principles and goals
of the new U.S. space policy.18 The new policy defined the responsibilities and
duties of the Department of Defense as follows:

• to support and enhance defense and intelligence needs and operations in
peacetime, during crises, and at any level of conflict;
• to develop and deploy the orbital assets necessary to maintain the U.S. edge in
this area, and continue the upgrade of defense and intelligence capabilities;
• to provide support for capabilities in space, enhance forces, control space, and
utilize space systems;
• to provide space capabilities to support continuous, global strategic and tactical
warning systems, as well as multi-layered and integrated missile defenses; and
• to develop plans and options to ensure freedom of action in space, and, if
directed, deny such freedom of action to adversaries.
With the exception of the latter, all of these missions may be considered support

vlAdimiR dvORkin 41
activities for military systems in space. However, the goal of securing freedom
of action in space and denying such freedom to adversaries can be met only by
implementing some of the programs described above to destroy or disable the
spacecraft of other nations. Nevertheless, these requirements did not go as far as
the above-cited recommendations of the Congressional Commission calling for
the deployment of weapons in space.

At the same time, such appeals and intentions should be scrutinized as critically
as the peace-loving declarations that Washington has presented as its official line.
Russian military analysts often take the militaristic declarations and projects of
their U.S. counterparts uncritically. As stressed in Natsionalnaya oborona [National
Defense], one of the principal publications on the subject and a mouthpiece of the
Russian military-industrial complex: “The policy of the U.S. and its allies (first and
foremost NATO) has been directed unequivocally at securing strategic and military
dominance over Russia and other nations and degrading their nuclear deterrence
potential; this has been a consistent trend rather than just a tactical tendency, and
has been occurring independently of ideological disagreements.” 19

Official U.S. military command publications have undoubtedly served as fertile
ground for additional concerns about the U.S. threat from space. It should be said,
however, that the U.S. political system is one of the most open in the world, provid-
ing a great deal of information on military concepts and operational plans, as well
as on weaponry and military operations. As is evident from the historical overview
of space weapons development presented above, from the 1960s through the
1980s the USSR was implementing plans for the militarization of space that were
at least as extensive if not more so than those of the United States, yet by contrast
they remained shrouded in great secrecy and therefore did not appear to contra-
dict the public “peace-loving policy of the Central Committee of the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union.”

In light of financial constraints and organizational and technical problems fac-
ing the military-industrial complex, current Russian military space programs are
unquestionably inferior to those of the United States in scale and technical sophis-
tication. However, official information about these plans (not to mention the true
strategic and operational concepts of the Russian Federation) is not much more
freely available today than in the days of the Soviet Union. For this reason, analysis
published today in Russia often suffers from being one-sided, and resembles pro-
paganda about the U.S. threat rather than an analytical study.

That said, since the end of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact,
and the collapse of the USSR, the United States really has behaved arrogantly
and neglected its own obligations (for example, the Moscow Declaration on the
New Strategic Relationship, signed by the presidents of Russia and the United
States in 2002, which provided for a partnership approach to such areas as BMD).
The militarization of space has been no exception. Deprived of its once-powerful
enemy and enjoying a military budget larger than that of any other nation, the

United States has spent lavishly on the latest projects and experiments relating
to space weapons and various types of information systems, allowing its military
space command to make the kind of hawkish declarations that would never have
been permitted during the Cold War years, even by the Reagan administration in
the context of its SDI program.

There is no question that the greatest military, commercial, and scientific assets
in space belong to the United States, which is greatly and increasingly dependent
on the operation of various satellites for its strategic and general-purpose armed
forces; this is significantly less of a factor for Russia, the PRC, and other military
powers. Thus, the United States must have more of an interest than any other
nation in protecting its satellite systems, and this interest must also be defensive
rather than offensive in nature.

This would explain the fact that the United States has limited itself to conducting
individual experiments and tests in the 1980s and over the current decade, includ-
ing the satellite intercept test it carried out in 2008, even though it is far ahead of
other powers in terms of both the development and variety of its space weapon
programs. However, Washington has deactivated its previous satellite defense
systems, and never did initiate extensive military deployment of the new space
weapon systems, relying instead on the “secondary antisatellite potential” of its
strategic-, operational-, and tactical-class BMD systems (such as the Ground-
Based Interceptor and the Standard Missile component of the Aegis Ballistic
Missile Defense System).

Allegedly, this decision was based on a pragmatic cost-benefit analysis of a large-
scale antisatellite weapons race with Russia, China, and, subsequently, other
potential space nations. By virtue of the intrinsic vulnerability of spacecraft (which
have predictable orbits and weak passive defenses, and which are difficult to cam-
ouflage) and the much greater reliance of the United States on orbital systems to
support its strategic nuclear forces and general-purpose forces, it could end up
the loser should other nations deploy their own ASAT systems.

For the time being, Russia has been less reliant on constellations of satellites
for the operations of its general-purpose forces, although it does plan to actively
increase its resources in space. Presently Russia is concerned about U.S. space
support for long-range conventional strikes. Over the more distant future, Moscow
sees the deployment of a space component of the antimissile defense system as
a serious threat that could potentially degrade Russia’s nuclear deterrence.

The PRC clearly has interests in this area that coincide with those of Russia,
even if the priorities differ. China is probably less concerned about the new U.S.
general-purpose capabilities, but in light of its relatively limited nuclear deterrence
potential is worried more about the United States’ near-term projects for a multi-
layered BMD system.

vlAdimiR dvORkin 43
This means that in the future both Russia and China will likely have an interest in
developing antisatellite systems as an asymmetrical response to new U.S. BMD
systems and general-purpose forces capabilities. It would be logical to ask why the
United States has spent the current decade resisting any serious negotiations on
banning antisatellite systems by treaty (while at the same time developing and testing
some of these very systems itself), rather than taking the initiative in this area.

The answer involves several possibilities (that at least apply to the thinking of the
Bush administration):

• the United States fears that a restriction or prohibition of ASAT systems would
complicate its development of space-based BMD systems because these sys-
tems share significant technologies and components;
• U.S. antisatellite systems are being developed as a means of deterring the
deployment of such systems by Russia and China in the distant future;
• ASAT systems are viewed as a means for actively defending U.S. spacecraft
(including space-based BMD systems) from the sub-orbital and orbital antisat-
ellite systems of other nations;
• the United States is uncertain that the prohibition of antisatellite systems could
be reliably controlled, and further believes that the closed nature of military
policy in Russia (and even more so in the PRC) makes it likely that such weap-
ons systems will be developed and tested secretly, even as the United States
agrees to deprive itself of such systems; and
• in a worst-case scenario, even if a large-scale arms race involving space weap-
ons were to occur, the United States expects its military superiority in space to
remain overwhelming.
Much now depends upon the new U.S. administration’s approach in this area. It
cannot be ruled out that, as a result of major U.S. foreign policy failures and dif-
ficulties, coupled with a financial crisis on a scale unprecedented since the late
1920s, the new administration will be forced to seriously reconsider some U.S.
policies, including, perhaps, the military use of space. Accordingly, some influential
U.S. specialists have stressed that

The United States has made the greatest investment in space assets and is sub-
stantially dependent on them for conducting global military operations. The potential
vulnerability of these assets to relatively unsophisticated attacks presents a more
significant threat than any other danger in space.… A ban on space weapons would
disproportionately benefit the United States, which therefore has every reason to
establish and maintain exacting standards of verification. 20

Such expectations are certain to be countered by both the traditional iner-
tia of existing ASAT development programs and the powerful influence of
military-industrial corporations. This makes it even more essential that there
be a policy of energetic efforts to prevent the militarization of outer space,

with the goal of drafting and implementing comprehensive treaties that pro-
hibit launching weapons into orbit that could be used to attack land, air, sea,
and space targets.

1 B. P. Molchanov, “The Militarization of Space and Space Weapons,” in Nuclear Prolifera-
tion: New Technologies, Weapons and Treaties, A. Arbatov and V. Dvorkin, eds.,Carnegie
Moscow Center (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2009) 196–228; M. V. Tarasenko, Military Aspects of
Soviet Cosmonautics (Moscow: TOO Nikol, Agenstvo Ros. Pechati, 1992).
2 S. V. Cherkas, Sovremenniye politiko-pravoviye problemy voyenno-kosmicheskoy deyatel-
nosti i osnovy metodologii ikh issledovaniya [The Modern Political and Legal Problems of
Military and Space Operations and the Methodological Bases of Their Study], (Moscow:
MO RF, 1995).
3 “Kosmicheskiye sredstva vooruzheniya” [Space Weapons], Entsiklopediya I vek: Oruzhiye
i tekhnologii Rossii [Twenty-First Century Encyclopedia: Weaponry and Technology of Rus-
sia, (Moscow: Izd. dom “Oruzhiye i tekhnologii,” 2002).
4 From material in Vitaly Katayev’s archives, as used by Pavel Podvig in his June 12,
2006, report. See also: P. Podvig, “Window of Vulnerability That Wasn’t: Soviet Military
Buildup in the 1970s: A Research Note,” International Security 33, no. 1 (Summer
2008): 118–138.
5 Aviation Week and Space Technology 134, IX/III (1991); Zarubezhniye kosmicheskiye kom-
pleksy i sistemy [Foreign Space Complexes and Systems], no. 3, 1992.
6 Novosti Kosmonavtiki, no. 1 (216) (2001).
7 Molchanov, Nuclear Proliferation: New Technologies; Novosti Kosmonavtiki, no. 1 (216)
(2001) 196–228.
8 These assessments were made by a team of experts that included the author. See also:
Molchanov, Nuclear Proliferation: New Technologies, 196–228.
9 Informatsionniye materialy po kompleksnomu eksperimentu MO SShA RME/LACE (USA-51),
provodimye v ramkakh programmy SOI [Informational Materials on the Multifactor Experi-
ment of the U.S. MoD RME/LACE (USA-51), Carried Out Within the Framework of the SDI
Program] (NPO Energiya, 1992); Novosti kosmonavtiki, no. 5 (1999): 39.
10 Space News 18 no. 5 (2007) 5/II: 16; Space News 18, no. 35 (2007) 10/IX: 8.
11 Aviation Week & Space Technology (June 11, 2001).
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid.
14 Based on materials from http://www.spacedaily.com and http://www.spacelauncher.com
15 Howell M. Estes III, General, U.S.A.F. Commander in Chief, “United States Space Com-
mand Vision for 2020,” in Long Range Plan (Executive Summary), March 1998.
16 Novosti Kosmonavtiki 14, no. 9 (260) (2004) (based on materials from Space Daily, Space.
com, the U.S. Department of Defense, and others).
17 Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management
and Organization (Moscow, 2001).
18 “U.S. National Space Policy,” Krasnaya Zvezda (March 5–11, 2008).
19 Nats. Oborona, no. 7 (28) (July 2008): 41.
20 N. Gallagher and J. Steinbruner, Reconsidering the Rules of Space Security (American
Academy of Arts and Sciences, [S.1], 2008), 80.

vlAdimiR dvORkin 45

vikTOR miZin
In the aftermath of the successful launch of the first satellite in 1957, the Soviet leader-
ship strove to offset a potential U.S. quest for military superiority by continuing to
develop new types of military space assets in the strictest secrecy while pursuing politi-
cal and diplomatic efforts in favor of the “peaceful use of outer space.” Within the frame-
work of the campaign for “general and complete disarmament,” Moscow consistently
supported the non-weaponization of outer space and advanced numerous initiatives,
both at international forums and in the context of bilateral relations, advocating inter-
national legal recognition of outer space as an area free of any type of weaponry.1

Russia, as the legal successor of the USSR, continues to follow this line, while
currently pursuing the goal of countering U.S. plans to deploy BMD systems and
components, as well as space-based antisatellite weapons.2 The logic of this
approach is obvious: Russia needs to maintain strategic parity and strives to pre-
vent the United States from gaining a unilateral strategic advantage, while at the
same time trying to avoid a new and costly arms race.3

As early as the very first round of disarmament negotiations of the last century, the
Soviet leadership applied the unique tactic of linking progress at the “space talks”
to limits on defensive and offensive strategic weapons, which was what Soviet
experts believed the United States sought.

However, both sides began to recognize the potentially destabilizing nature
of space weapons and tried to avoid anything that would spur the position-
ing of weapons systems in space. 4 This was especially true with respect to

vikTOR miZin 49
nuclear weapons, whose deployment in outer space would be fraught with
unpredictable military and strategic consequences and the possibility of hor-
rific technological accidents.

ThE iniTiAl AgREEmEnTS On OUTER SPACE The Limited Test Ban
Treaty, the first step toward actual nuclear disarmament, was co-authored by the
Soviet Union during the U.S.-Soviet “thaw” that followed the October 1962 Cuban
Missile Crisis. Under Article I of this international legal document, all test detona-
tions of nuclear weapons and all other types of nuclear explosions are prohibited.
However, the treaty did not prohibit the deployment of nuclear weapons in space,
as it did in other environments.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 1884 in October 1963,
appealing to all nations to refrain from placing nuclear weapons or other weapons
of mass destruction into orbit around the Earth.5 This document served as the
framework for consensus on a joint U.S.-Soviet draft treaty.

Interestingly enough, the Soviet version of the document covered all outer space,
while the U.S. draft applied only to celestial bodies. Moreover, the new treaty’s
verification process, according to the Soviets, should have been based entirely
on national efforts. Ultimately, the United States accepted the Soviet approach.6
The international community adopted the superpowers’ finalized draft as United
Nations General Assembly Resolution 2222. In many respects, the document was
based on the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in
the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, which was proposed by the USSR and
unanimously adopted by the General Assembly in 1963. That document declared
that the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out “for the benefit and
in the interests of all mankind.” 7

Ultimately, the tentative U.S.-Soviet cooperation that emerged at the time facili-
tated finalization of the Treaty on Outer Space (officially named the Treaty on
Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer
Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies), signed on January 27,
1967, in Moscow, Washington, and London.8

Under this agreement, space activities are to be carried out in accordance with
international law, in the interests of maintaining international peace and security,
and promoting international cooperation and understanding (Article III). Based on
the principles of the UN Charter, the Treaty proclaims outer space as “the province
of all mankind” and guarantees the important principle that “outer space … is not
subject to national appropriation,” and thus all nations are to be guaranteed free
and equal access to all areas of space.

Still, the treaty did not ban military activities in space per se, although it intro-
duced a number of restrictions. In particular, nations party to the treaty agree not

to launch any objects into space bearing nuclear weapons or any other weapons
of mass destruction. Under the agreement, the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies
are to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes by all nations party to the treaty,
no military bases are to be established there, and no weapons testing or military
maneuvers of any kind are to be conducted on these celestial bodies (Article IV).
The treaty also requires that consultations be held in the event that the activities or
experiments in space planned by one state potentially interfere with the peaceful
exploration and use of outer space by other states (Article Ix), and provides for the
possibility of inspections (Article xII).

The Treaty on Outer Space was further developed with the drafting of the Agree-
ment Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies
of December 18, 1979, which imposed a full-scale prohibition of military activities
on the Moon or in lunar orbit. However, only a few countries, none of which have
space programs of any significance, have actually ratified the treaty. Consequently,
it has not yet gained any serious political or legal force.9

After the 1967 Treaty was concluded, the superpowers continued their attempts
to develop new types of non-nuclear space weapons that could be used against
targets in space.10 By the early 1970s, both superpowers had expanded their military
support activities in space in such areas as satellite reconnaissance, navigation,
communications, and early warning of missile launches, although no weapons were
ever actually deployed in space.11 A certain synergy has emerged as orbital strike
weapons could be developed while BMD systems, air defenses, or land-based tac-
tical antimissiles are created. This overlapping may be seen in the U.S. efforts to
modify the Nike Zeus anti-ballistic missile for satellite-attacking modes.12

The problem of preventing the weaponization of space has turned out to be con-
nected to efforts aimed at preventing the proliferation of missiles and missile tech-
nologies, tightening export controls on critical technologies, and regulating the
global market of commercial space launches.13

In 1972, the United States and the USSR concluded the historic Treaty on the
Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), which not only laid the
foundation for the limitation and reduction of strategic and other nuclear weapons
for the next 30 years and served as the cornerstone of the philosophy and practice
of strategic stability, but also represented an important international legal barrier
to space militarization. The ABM Treaty prohibited the development, testing, and
deployment of BMD systems and space-based BMD components (Article V),14
but it did not specify that these limitations applied only to nuclear weapons. This
meant that the ban would for the first time apply to all other space-based weap-
ons. As space-based BMD systems simultaneously have considerable antisatellite
capabilities, the ABM Treaty would also indirectly ban space-based ASAT systems
(although this relationship does not work in reverse—an ASAT weapon of any bas-
ing mode would not necessarily be a component of BMD by definition).

vikTOR miZin 51
The 1972 Treaty contained a number of indirect limitations on military activities in
space. In the appendix to the treaty, the famous Agreed Statement “D” banned
the deployment in space and other environments of “BMD systems based on
other physical principles and including components capable of substituting for
BMD interceptor missiles, BMD launchers, or BMD radars.” This interpretation
of the key provision prevailed in the United States following a series of intense
debates in the early 1980s, and was confirmed in the conclusions of a special
Senate commission chaired by Senator Sam Nunn. It became a roadblock to
the implementation of President Reagan’s SDI program.15

The ABM Treaty also obligated both parties “not to interfere with the national
technical means of verification [NTMV] of the other Party,” and to use them to
verify compliance. This represented the first official legal codification of military
activities in orbit associated with support operations (reconnaissance, missile
attacks, early warning, and so on).

COnSUlTATiOnS On AnTiSATElliTE SySTEmS In light of this new
mutual understanding on strategic stability and the role of satellite support sys-
tems, the development of space weapons—particularly antisatellite components—
was considered a destabilizing factor.

The United States expressed serious concerns about antisatellite system tests
conducted by the Soviet Union; then the USSR voiced its anxiety over U.S. ASAT
tests. By the mid-1970s, the United States had discontinued the development of
its direct ascent ASAT and suspended the 505 system (based on the Nike-Zeus
missile) and the 437 system (based on the Thor missile). Meanwhile, the Soviet
Union (in the 1960s and 1970s) conducted a series of tests of its co-orbital anti-
satellite system and deployed several silo-based launchers for its IS system at its
Baikonur site in 1972.16 The United States followed suit by starting an airborne
ASAT program (see chapter 3 for details). The United States was induced to begin
developing antisatellite weapons in part as a response to the threat of the partially
orbital missiles deployed by the USSR in 1969 that were eventually banned, first
by the 1979 SALT II Treaty (Point 1, Article Ix), then by START I.17

During the subsequent period of relative improvement of U.S.-Soviet political rela-
tions (1978–1979), three rounds of bilateral consultations on antisatellite issues
were initiated by the Carter administration.18 For the duration of the talks, the two
sides suspended testing of their respective systems. The negotiations between the
two delegations, headed on the Soviet side by Ambassador-at-Large of the USSR
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lev Mendelevich and on the U.S. side by Ambassador
Robert Buchheim, were held without particular success and amounted to a mere
recitation of the differing positions by the two parties.19 With each side express-
ing concern primarily about the other’s antisatellite program, the negotiators still
reviewed possible restrictions on such programs.

The United States followed a two-pronged approach of developing antisatellite
systems while impeding their deployment by others.20 This course was favored
because it was much easier to verifiably restrict the Soviet system based on the
experience of SALT I and SALT II. However, by the end of the talks, the United
States and the USSR were unable to reach accord on the subject of the future
treaty or on the nature of its prohibitions.

The Soviet delegation, for example, objected to imposing an unconditional and
universal ban on any hostile action against the spacecraft of other parties, point-
ing out that certain situations may require that orbital threats be neutralized (for
example, spacecraft assigned to attack ground targets on Earth or, as the Soviet
delegation implied, direct broadcast satellites). The Soviets also objected to impos-
ing an unconditional ban on countermeasures against satellites belonging to third
nations. Agreement could not be reached on what exactly the future treaty would
prohibit: direct physical action against enemy satellites, or merely any interference
with their normal functioning (the differences between the two sides are outlined
in Table 7.)
Table 7. Differences in Positions between the United States and USSR in 1978–1979


Subject of the treaty Open-ended agreement to One-year moratorium on ASAT
prohibit all types of ASAT testing to provide time to draft an
and the testing of such agreement on the prohibition of
systems in the two countries ASAT testing and deployment,
with systems for verification

Prohibitions and Prohibition of certain “hostile Prohibition of all attacks against
restrictions activities” against American any satellites
and Soviet spacecraft

Verification method NTMV, consultations in cases NTMV, on-site inspections
of dispute

As a result of the serious deterioration in U.S.-Soviet relations that followed the
1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, these consultations never resumed.21 The
Reagan administration demonstrated no interest in the legally binding restrictions
on antisatellite system development,22 and the United States and the USSR con-
tinued testing their antisatellite systems well into the 1980s.

In 1983, in line with its efforts to counteract the U.S. SDI program, Moscow made
a unilateral commitment not to deploy any new ASAT systems in space, even for
testing purposes, so long as other nations would assume the same obligation. This
did not mean that Moscow intended to decommission the IS-MU system that had
already been deployed. The Soviet Union continued to comply with this morato-
rium even after the United States carried out a real-target test of its SRAM-Altair
airborne antisatellite system in 1985.

vikTOR miZin 53
The U.S. Congress terminated the ASAT program at the end of the 1980s in the
friendlier atmosphere that resulted from the end of the Cold War and the conclu-
sion of several major arms control treaties at the time. In a statement on Janu-
ary 29, 1992, Russian President Yeltsin reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to eliminate
existing antisatellite systems on a basis of reciprocity with the United States, and
to draft a treaty imposing a comprehensive ban on weapons intended specifically
for satellite attacks. The IS-MU antisatellite complex was removed from testing
and combat duty in 1993, and the system was decommissioned.

SOviET iniTiATivES AT inTERnATiOnAl FORUmS In the 1980s, the
USSR applied its policy of preventing an arms race in outer space by obstruct-
ing the Strategic Defense Initiative program announced by President Reagan on
March 23, 1983 (which would violate provisions of the ABM Treaty by developing
and testing elements of a space-based antimissile defense system).

While skeptical about the SDI program’s ability to intercept all of the warheads
launched in a counterstrike, the Soviet military and political leadership still viewed
it as an extremely dangerous bid for strategic superiority.23 The senile leaders of
the Communist Party’s Politburo, ignorant in technological or military matters,
fell under the sway of a massive PR campaign promoted by the Soviet military-
industrial complex, which exaggerated the U.S. space threat, mainly with the goal
of obtaining crush funding for a host of military programs involving asymmetrical
response measures (see chapter 3 for details). The Soviet leaders were assured
that SDI was something like the “Star Wars” weapon system (rather than an actual
R&D program), and that in fact, under the guise of providing defense capabilities,
the United States was creating the means to deliver a bolt-from-the-blue strike
from space first and foremost at targets like Moscow and the Kremlin.

Efforts by professional experts in physics, space research, and international secu-
rity to introduce an element of realism into this assessment24 were drowned in a
chorus of alarm from interest groups, including some in the academic commu-
nity. As was the case with the U.S. deployment of intermediate-range missiles
in Europe, the Kremlin leadership became so frightened that it was prepared to
make much greater concessions in negotiations with the United States than the
strategic situation actually required (it appears that the same dynamic is taking
place in Russia now in connection with U.S. plans to deploy elements of its BMD
system in Europe).

In this political atmosphere, the USSR advanced a series of treaty proposals to
prohibit the creation or use of weapons of any type in space, and in the 1980s it
began presenting them regularly for discussion both at the United Nations and at
meetings of specialized international organizations (such as the United Nations
Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the Conference on Disar-
mament in Geneva).

In 1981, for example, the USSR introduced its initiative for a treaty prohibiting the
deployment of weapons of any type in space25 and submitted the draft treaty
to prohibit the use of force in outer space and from space against Earth.26 The
phraseology of these documents incorporated some of the results achieved at
previous U.S.-Soviet consultations on ASAT, although the 1981 version did leave
room for some divergence in interpretation. For example, it did not prohibit either
the testing and possession of land-based and airborne antisatellite systems
(Article I, Point 1 of the draft), or the development of these systems using new
physical principles,27 nor did it prohibit intercepting orbital devices not intended for
peaceful purposes. Under the draft, if a country at its own discretion identified any
space object in “orbit around the Earth” as a weapons carrier, that country would
essentially be allowed to destroy the object without recourse to consultation or to
accepted international legal criteria (Article III). Many of the provisions in the draft,
however, required additional clarification.

The more comprehensive 1983 version, in which some of the criticisms of the
provisions in the previous Soviet draft were addressed, prohibited ASAT testing
outright and included an appeal to eliminate systems of this type that were already
in existence (Article II, Point 4). The provision in the draft that prohibited the use of
manned spacecraft for military missions (Article II, Point 5) was a rather transpar-
ent Soviet attempt (first tried during the ASAT consultations) to restrict the military
use of the U.S. Space Shuttle, first launched into orbit on April 12, 1981.

In 1984, the USSR clarified its proposal by indicating the specific areas in which
the use of force should be prohibited and the categories of space weapons that
should be covered by these bans: the Soviet proposal would have banned the use
of force in outer space and from space against Earth, as well as from Earth against
objects in outer space.28 In an effort to preclude the arms race in outer space and
to foreclose any channel for its weaponization, the USSR proposed the potential
prohibition and elimination of “space-strike weapons” and all other land-, air-, or
sea-based systems designed to destroy targets in space. It clarified its position
that nations must not place or deploy space-strike weapons of any kind, whether
conventional, nuclear, laser, particle-beam, and so on, in orbit as components of
either manned or unmanned systems.

In 1986, Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov sent a letter to the United Nations
Secretary-General proposing the creation of a World Space Organization to regu-
late the supply of peaceful missile technology and provide equal access to the
international space launch market.29 Unfortunately, this proposal was essentially
rejected by the U.S. side.

At the same time, Moscow began regularly submitting resolutions at the United
Nations General Assembly condemning an arms race in outer space.30 These
proposals were also systematically rejected by U.S. diplomats under the pretext
that it would be difficult to provide a precise definition for the term “space weap-
ons.” 31 In 1987, delegations to the Conference on Disarmament from the German

vikTOR miZin 55
Democratic Republic and Mongolia, with the support of Soviet experts, developed
and submitted the main provisions of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Antisatellite
Weapons and on Ways to Ensure the Immunity of Space Objects.32 At the Con-
ference on Disarmament that same year, the USSR expressed its support for
creating an international inspection agency to monitor the launch of all objects
into space and their associated launchers. In 1989, following a French proposal to
create an International Satellite Monitoring Agency, the USSR made a new pro-
posal to establish an International Space Monitoring Agency that was to become
an integral part of an International Verification Agency in the future.33 The Soviet
Union expressed its willingness to consider using Soviet missiles to launch the
agency’s satellites under mutually acceptable terms.

However, all these ideas were essentially blocked by the United States. In the
opinion of the United States and its allies, the draft multilateral treaties on the non-
use of force in space were clearly a form of propaganda, primarily aimed at turning
public opinion against its ASAT tests, its Space Shuttle, and finally against its SDI
program.34 It was further claimed that they were not only superfluous, considering
the existing legal regime, but would also circumvent a substantial part of contem-
porary international law.

Many of the Soviet initiatives were indeed loaded with anti-U.S. propaganda and
revealed an anti-U.S. slant, while carefully avoiding any mention of secret Soviet
plans. The Soviet leadership of the 1960s and 1970s felt a certain degree of con-
fidence, believing that it could outdo the United States in creating military space
systems, both manned (such as the Almaz station) and unmanned (the IS-MU
antisatellite complex). This led to its unwillingness to impose any bans on new
types of space weapons, including those based on new physical principles.

However, by the 1980s it had become apparent that the USSR would not be able
to compete effectively with the United States in the more advanced stages of the
arms race that required not only enormous financial expenditures, but also radi-
cally new ways of organizing production to adopt regular and flexible innovations.

The SDI program not only seriously influenced the mentality of the new team
of Soviet leaders that had come to power in the mid-1980s, but, as a number
of U.S. experts believe, also contributed to the economic collapse of the USSR.
Although there are serious doubts on this point, it is nonetheless quite clear that
SDI was really not only a grandiose new technological project to revamp the U.S.
armed forces, but also a kind of active measure designed to lure the USSR into an
exhausting competition that it was destined to lose.35

nEgOTiATiOnS On nUClEAR And SPACE ARmS The Nuclear and
Space Arms Negotiations of the late 1980s became an important closed forum for
deliberating the non-weaponization of space. Although they failed to achieve tan-
gible progress on space weapons, they did promote a more profound conceptual-

ization of the ideology of the military use of space.36 The Soviet Union persistently
used the nuclear and space arms negotiations to advocate the inviolability of the
ABM Treaty in its original 1972 form, criticizing any attempts at diluting this agree-
ment. At the same time, however, Soviet diplomacy was following a rather flexible
tactical line, and its position evolved noticeably throughout the course of the talks.
The Soviet delegation placed its main emphasis on criticizing the so-called broad
interpretation of the ABM Treaty advocated in 1985 by the United States, accord-
ing to which the treaty did not prohibit the testing of BMD components in space.

Between 1983 and 1984, Moscow continued to oppose the U.S. argument that SDI
was not a subject of the negotiations, proposing instead to completely prohibit the
development, testing, and deployment of any space-based weapons that could be
used to strike objects on Earth, in the atmosphere, or in space. The Soviet negotia-
tors focused their greatest efforts on denying the United States the freedom to
conduct R&D of space-based BMD components, although at a certain point after
1989 the Soviet delegation did allow the possibility that a number of tests and
associated experiments not prohibited by the ABM Treaty could be conducted
in space. At the same time, the Soviet delegation was forced to ward off U.S.
accusations that the Soviet Union had long been pursuing its own determined
and secret R&D efforts in this field, in particular under the guise of conducting
research on national missile attack early warning and air defense systems.37

In 1985, the USSR proposed prohibiting not only the development and deployment
of space-strike capabilities, but also the associated scientific research and tech-
nological development and testing, and it further proposed to destroy the already
existing ASAT systems. The Soviet delegation affirmed the obligation of each
country to open its laboratories to monitoring and an agreed-upon prohibition
on testing of all mock-ups, experimental models, and prototypes of space-based
BMD systems. Moscow agreed in 1987 that BMD research could be conducted in
laboratories on Earth (for example, at research facilities, test ranges, and manu-
facturing plants), while suggesting that experts from both countries coordinate a
list of equipment to be prohibited for launch into space during such tests.

The so-called package of proposals that the Soviet side presented at the Reyk-
javik summit in 1986 anticipated that, once the USSR and the United States had
reached agreement on a 50-percent reduction in strategic offensive arms and
on the elimination of Soviet and U.S. intermediate-range missiles, they would
bilaterally abandon the development, testing, and deployment of any antimissile
or antisatellite systems, as well as other assets capable of destroying targets
in space, in the atmosphere, or on Earth. The Soviet Union declared its willing-
ness to set up a very strict system of monitoring, including inspectors’ access
to the relevant laboratories.

This new approach created certain public relations problems for Washington,
especially in light of the growing opposition to SDI both within the United States
and among its NATO allies. This forced the U.S. leadership to take a different tack

vikTOR miZin 57
by offering Moscow a superficially simpler way to achieve its goals. It suggested
that, rather than concluding a detailed agreement on which types of operations
with orbital systems would be allowed or prohibited, the two sides could agree
to continue to abide by the ABM Treaty for a specific period of time. This was
a unique kind of trap—after all, a party had the right to withdraw from the ABM
Treaty only under “extraordinary circumstances” that threatened the “supreme
interests” of the state (Article xV).

Nevertheless, at the December 1987 summit in Washington, the two sides did
agree to the requirement not to withdraw from the ABM Treaty for a specified
period of time and to begin intensive discussions on strategic stability three years
before that term was to end. It was politically important for Moscow that the ABM
Treaty be observed in its original 1972 form, with rights to conduct research, devel-
opment, and testing of the systems and components authorized by the Treaty.
It was further agreed that the right of each side to determine its own course of
action after the non-withdrawal term expired did not mean that a party could
automatically withdraw from the ABM Treaty without explaining the nature of the
threat against the “supreme interests” of that state (in keeping with Article xV of
the ABM Treaty). This all went to show that the diplomats had gotten tangled up
in their own legal constructions: after all, the spirit and letter of the ABM Treaty
required such an explanation in any case (both before and after the expiration of a
potential non-withdrawal agreement). Besides, a non-withdrawal agreement could
not strip the parties of their ability to renounce the treaty if it came into conflict
with the goal of averting a threat to the “supreme interests” of the state. The only
issue was the credibility of the explanation, which was a subjective and political
matter rather than a legal one.

In late 1988, the Soviet side proposed including the “Washington formula” in the
text of a separate agreement on the observance of and non-withdrawal from the
ABM Treaty for an agreed term. It also wanted the formula included in a protocol
to the treaty on verification measures and the predictability of the strategic situ-
ation’s development. Thereafter, the work focused on reaching consensus on the
wording of the protocol. However, the two sides were never able to draft a com-
mon text in light of the obvious ambiguity surrounding the issue of preventing
withdrawal from the ABM Treaty at all costs.

For its part, the United States was pushing to draft an agreement on “certain
measures promoting the cooperative transition to a regime with a greater
emphasis on defense” (it should be noted that, as conditions changed, the
leadership first of the Soviet Union, then of Russia under presidents Yeltsin,
Putin, and Medvedev came to adopt this idea as well). The two sides even had
different names at the nuclear and space arms talks for the space discussion
forum: the United States referred to it as the defense and space group, while
for the USSR it was the space disarmament group.

Although the work of the defense and space group in Geneva involved long,
drawn-out exchanges over the meanings or interpretations of terms, it neverthe-
less helped to clarify a number of important concepts. For example, precise defini-
tions were developed for such terms as BMD “components” and “subcomponents,”
as well as for “mock-ups” and “prototypes” of such components. The American
and Soviet sides were able to better understand the national characteristics of
the research and development that produced these systems and components,
and discussed the definitions and authorized parameters of the space-based sen-
sors that the United States was seeking to freely develop and deploy and even to
endow with BMD radar capabilities.

The delegations reviewed procedures in great detail for exchanging data relat-
ing to research and development, testing, deployment, modernization, and
replacement of BMD systems and components, beginning at the moment such
work is accessible to monitoring by national technical means of verification
(NTMV). In contrast to its previous proposal to open the laboratories, the Soviet
delegation decided that visits to BMD research laboratories would make no
practical sense, especially if conducted on a random or irregular basis. It was
further proposed that the two sides should agree on a list of the BMD com-
ponents that would be prohibited from being launched into space, and that
the data exchanged should include a brief description of the work being con-
ducted, a brief description of the work scheduled to be done in the near future,
a brief description of scheduled tests, an indication of the places where this
work was conducted, and an explanation of how this work and these tests met
the limitations established by the ABM Treaty. The two sides also intended to
exchange lists of the facilities carrying out research and testing on BMD com-
ponents. It was anticipated that the protocol would establish the procedures for
performing onsite inspections of BMD test facilities (to ensure that no systems
prohibited by the treaty were to be launched into space), conducting expert
exchanges, and holding briefings on ongoing operations.

On the whole, these negotiations led to an unprecedented level of openness in
the most delicate areas of military technological activity, which naturally raises
questions as to whether the Soviet Union was genuinely committed, or was merely
bluffing to complicate the fate of the SDI program. In light of what is now known
about the vast range of R&D in the USSR at the time aimed at an asymmetrical
response to weapons systems attacking in or from space, it hardly seems real-
istic to expect that degree of transparency, especially considering the traditional
opaqueness of everything involving Soviet defense (see chapter 3 for more details).
Even if the United States had shown a willingness to reach practical agreements,
roadblocks could still have been thrown up by taking advantage of complexities in
definition and interpretation.

On the other hand, subsequent experience has shown that negotiations can
gain tremendous momentum in the presence of the mutual political will to reach
agreement, making what had appeared impossible (such as transparency and

vikTOR miZin 59
verification) suddenly attainable. This is what happened with the Intermediate-
Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in
Europe, and the 1991 Treaty Between the USSR and the U.S. on the Reduction
and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START I). Washington, dogmatically
obsessed at the time with the idea of a space-based BMD system, failed to utilize
this unique window of opportunity, and when the entire military and strategic bal-
ance changed drastically in the 1990s, this item was dropped for good.

The weaponization of space reappeared as a subject for negotiations only some 20
years later, together with some other issues that had remained unresolved since the
late 1980s. The positions taken by the Soviet Union and the United States during
the 1983–1988 negotiations on nuclear and space arms are compared in Table 8.

Table 8. American and Soviet Positions at the 1983–1988 Nuclear and Space Arms



The USSR unilaterally promises not to
deploy antisatellite weapons in space, even
for testing purposes, as long as the other
side refrains from such activity.


The development, testing, and deployment The Soviet terms “space weapons” and
of all space-based weapons that can strike “space-strike weapons” are quite flawed
targets on the ground, in the air, or in outer and incorrect. The United States is
space should be completely prohibited. conducting research permitted by the ABM
Steps should be taken to exclude the Treaty. The USSR has already tested and
possibility of the arms race expanding deployed an antisatellite system and has a
into outer space and both sides should BMD system set up around Moscow.
forgo space-strike capabilities, including
antisatellite weapons.


The development (including research and The SDI program is not subject to negotia-
technological activity), testing, and deploy- tion, as the intended research does not
ment of space-strike weapons should be provide for the development, testing, or
prohibited. At the same time, the antisatellite deployment of BMD components, whether
systems that already exist and are still in the based in space or using other types of
testing phase must be destroyed by both the mobile basing, that fall under the ABM
United States and the USSR. Treaty ban. The United States is prepared
to discuss the problems of strategic
defense, including the operational BMD
system that the Soviet Union has deployed
around Moscow.

November 1985

The two sides should open their laboratories
for verification purposes. They must also
agree to ban the placement of arms in space.
This ban must cover the development of
these weapons, including targeted scientific
research work. They must agree to ban
space weapons that are only intended for
offense: antisatellite systems using any bas-
ing mode (with the elimination of the existing
types of ASATs) and space-to-Earth class
weapons that are capable of striking targets
in space, on land, in the ocean, and in the
air from space. They must also abide by the
authentic interpretation of the ABM Treaty.


The two sides must agree not to withdraw
from the ABM Treaty for fifteen years.
They must also agree to prohibit the
testing and construction of mock-ups, pilot
models, and prototypes of space-based
BMD systems, both inside and outside
laboratories. They must employ NTMV and
onsite inspections, opening the corre-
sponding laboratories for inspection in both
the United States and the USSR, as well as
in countries involved in the development of
space systems under U.S. contracts.

Reykjavik Meeting, September 1986

Agreement not to withdraw from the ABM Treaty for ten years.

The two sides must limit their space-based The two sides must retain their right
antimissile weapons research and develop- to conduct space tests, particularly in
ment to laboratories. They must also agree regard to systems based on new physical
not to conduct tests of space-based BMD principles (laser weapons, particle-beam
components outside these laboratories, weapons, electromagnetic rail guns, etc.).
especially in space.

vikTOR miZin 61

The USSR agrees to conduct of BMD The United States rejects proposals to
research, but this activity must be limited limit research to laboratories and links
to laboratories. This applies to scientific the second stage to the USSR’s accep-
research activities conducted at institutes, tance of the U.S. position on strategic
test ranges, and manufacturing plants. offensive arms: the elimination of only
Experts from the two sides must still reach sea- and land-based ballistic missiles,
agreement on the list of equipment that with heavy bombers and cruise missiles
would be prohibited from being launched remaining untouched.
into space in the course of this research.
Within three to five years of the ten-year
period’s expiration date, the two sides must
hold negotiations on the entire range of
issues involving BMD systems and their links
to strategic offensive arms. At the same
time, these talks must take into account
research that has already been completed
and the situation that has developed by
that time as a result of the elimination of
strategic offensive arms.

February 7, 1987

The United States maintains that the ABM
Treaty restricts neither research activities,
nor “experimental” operations, including
those conducted in space. It also fails to
cover full-scale space testing of traditional
BMD components and contains no
restrictions on the development or testing
of BMD systems based on new physical
principles and that are capable of replacing
traditional BMD components. Only their
deployment is banned.

April 1987

The United States proposes extending the
deadline for the 50 percent reduction of
strategic offensive arms from five to seven
years and reducing the ABM Treaty non-
withdrawal period from ten to seven years.

May 1987

The commitment by the two sides not to
withdraw from the ABM Treaty for the
purpose of deploying antimissile systems
extends through 1994. After 1994, each
side would have the right to stop abiding
by the Treaty’s terms and begin deploying
its BMD systems, unless they reach
some other agreement before then. The
agreement should come into effect only
after a 50 percent strategic offensive
arms reduction agreement has taken
effect, and the term of its validity should
depend on execution of the strategic
offensive arms Treaty. The two sides must
enhance strategic stability safeguards by
developing a “predictability package” that
includes mutual laboratory visits, mutual
monitoring of space-based antimissile
system testing, and annual exchanges of
data on program activity.

July 1987 (and again in December 1989)

The USSR submits the draft Agreement
between the USSR and the U.S. on Certain
Measures to Strengthen the ABM Treaty
Regime and Prevent an Arms Race in
Space, which states that the two sides
agree not to use their right to withdraw from
the treaty for ten years and to refrain from
placing certain space-based equipment in
outer space. It further binds them to con-
tinue negotiations on antisatellite systems
and space-to-Earth class weapons. If the
sides fail to reach agreement on all BMD-
related matters within two to three years
before the Agreement is to expire, then the
withdrawal of one side from the ABM Treaty
would release the other from the obligation
of abiding by the Strategic Offensive Arms
Reductions Treaty.

The December 1987 Washington Summit Meeting

The two sides are obliged not to withdraw
from the treaty for an agreed period of time.
Three years before this term expires, both
sides agree to engage in intensive discus-
sions on strategic stability; at the end of this
time, unless the two sides agree otherwise,
each will have the right to determine its own
future course of action.

vikTOR miZin 63
January 1988

The USSR maintains that the commitment The United States submits the draft
to comply with the ABM Treaty “as signed in Defense and Space Treaty on certain mea-
1972” implied the illegitimacy of the treaty’s sures promoting a cooperative transition
“broad interpretation.” In addition, the right to the deployment of a future anti-ballistic
“to determine one’s own course of action” missile strategic defense system. It also
after the expiration of the non-withdrawal submits a proposal to agree to allow the
period did not signify the ability to withdraw testing of “information sensors” in space,
from the Treaty without a threat to the meaning optical electronic and other
“supreme interests” of the state (Article xV). surveillance equipment, as well as BMD
tracking and guidance equipment (submit-
ted for the second time in December 1989).

The May-June 1988 Moscow Summit Meeting

September-November 1988

The USSR proposes including the “Wash- The United States adheres to the “broad
ington formula” in a separate ABM Treaty interpretation” of the Washington formula
agreement, including the fundamental and re-submits its draft Defense and
obligations concerning the Treaty and its Space Treaty from January 22, 1988.
non-withdrawal period. The USSR further
proposes that all agreements concern-
ing verification of compliance with this
agreement and predictability measures
(in particular, the exchange of research
program information) be included in a joint
protocol to this agreement.

Ultimately, American and Soviet diplomats reached an understanding at a Sep-
tember 1989 meeting in Wyoming to abandon the Soviet linkage between the
defense and space agreement and the strategic arms reduction agreement, which
made it possible to conclude the work on START I. At the same time, the Soviet
Union agreed to dismantle the Krasnoyarsk radar station, which had been built in
violation of the ABM Treaty. Soviet experts, meanwhile, were invited to visit U.S.
laboratories involved in SDI work.38

After the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in 1987, there
was a pause in U.S.-Soviet relations on nuclear and space weapons caused by
the advent of the George H. W. Bush administration in Washington. Strategic
arms negotiations resumed again only in the summer of 1989, and their rapid pace
allowed for the signing of START I by 1991.

A curious episode occurred that same year: on October 5, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev
stunned his own diplomats at the Geneva negotiations by announcing that he was
ready to discuss new U.S. proposals on a non-nuclear BMD system. Soviet repre-
sentatives later officially clarified that this did not mean that Moscow had agreed to
these proposals. With the collapse of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991, the
negotiations on space that had been pursued since March 1985 came to an end.

On January 31, 1992, after the collapse of the USSR, Russian President Boris
Yeltsin proposed the creation of “a global system to protect the world community,”
perhaps based on a “reoriented version of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative
and the use of high technology developed by the Russian defense sector.” When
asked whether this meant that Russia was renouncing the 1972 ABM Treaty,
Yeltsin stressed that Moscow believed in unconditional compliance with all of the
provisions of the treaty. The Russian representatives were subsequently forced to
essentially disavow Yeltsin’s declaration on the possibility of conducting joint work
on the basis of a “re-orientated” SDI program, explaining that the Russian leader
had only meant cooperation on the development of joint missile attack early warn-
ing systems and data exchange.39

In their joint statement of June 17, 1992, the presidents of the United States and Rus-
sia agreed that their nations “should work together with allies and other interested
states in developing a concept” of a global system “as part of an overall strategy
against the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.”

However, in the early 1990s the United States and the USSR were unable to reach
a compromise based on a U.S. proposal to deploy a so-called “Global Protection
Against Limited Strikes” system, which provided for the launch of at least 1,000
small “Brilliant Pebbles” interceptor satellites and hundreds of SBIRS tracking
satellites in orbit and called for the deployment of around 1,000 ground-based
interceptors of the GBI type. There was also no accord reached on the basis of the
Russian “Global Protection System” initiative.40

Thus, from the “Golden Age” of disarmament and arms control of the 1960s
through the 1990s, the international community inherited a significant number
of building blocks that could be used to draft potential future agreements to ban
deploying weapons in space, including those related to various space-based anti-
missile and antisatellite weapons.41

This diverse collection of ideas and proposals has remained untapped for any
bilateral or multilateral legally binding documents to the present day; however, it
may prove useful should any serious negotiations on preventing an arms race in
space begin in the foreseeable future.

1 Andrei Andreevich Gromyko, ed., Borba SSSR protiv yadernoy ugrozy, gonki vooruzheniyi,
za razoruzheniye: Sbornik dokumentov i materialov [The USSR’s Battle Against the Nuclear
Threat and the Arms Race, and for Disarmament: A Collection of Documents and Materials]
(Moscow: Politizdat, 1987).
2 See Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s speech at the Conference on Disarmament, which he
made on February 12, 2008, while presenting a Sino-Russian draft Treaty on the Prevention
of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer
Space Objects, http://www.geneva.mid.ru/visit-lavrova.html.
3 The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation: Adopted by Decree of the President of the Rus-
sian Federation on April 21, 2000, http://www.ng.ru/politics/2000-04-22/5_doktrina.html.

vikTOR miZin 65
4 Raymond L. Garthoff, “Banning the Bomb in Outer Space,” International Security, no. 5
(Winter 1980–1981): 25–40.
5 “Vopros o vseobschem i polnom razoruzheniyi” [The Question of Universal, Total Disarma-
ment], A/RES/1884 (XVIII) A/PV.1244 (October 17, 1963).
6 See Kosmos i pravo [Space and Law] (Moscow: IGPAN, 1980); V. S. Vereshchetin, Mezh-
dunarodnoye sotrudnichestvo v kosmose (pravovye voprosy) [International Cooperation in
Space (Legal Issues)] (Moscow, 1977); Pravovye problemy poleta cheloveka v kosmos [The
Legal Problems Connected with Man’s Flight into Outer Space] (Moscow, 1986); Gennady
P. Zhukov, Mezhdunarodnoye kosmicheskoe pravo [International Space Law] (Moscow:
MGIMO, 1999); Mezhdunarodno-pravovye problemy predotvrascheniya razmescheniya oru-
zhiya v kosmose [International Legal Problems Concerning the Prohibition of the Placement
of Weapons in Outer Space] (Moscow, 2003); A. S. Piradov, Kosmos i mezhdunarodnoye
pravo [Outer Space and International Law] (Moscow: MGIMO, 1985); A. B. Yakovenko,
“Aktualnye problemy progressivnogo razvitiya mezhdunarodnogo kosmicheskogo prava,”
[Current Problems with the Progressive Development of International Law on Outer Space]
Rossiyskiy Yezhegodnik Mezhdunarodnogo Prava [The Russian Yearbook of International
Law] (Saint Petersburg: Rossiya-Neva, 2002); as well as a brief synopsis of the history of
how agreement on the Treaty was reached, which appears on a U.S. State Department
website at http:www.state.gov/www/global/arms/treaties/space1.html#1.
7 United Nations General Assembly, Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities
of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, United Nations General Assembly
Resolution 1962 (XVIII), December 13, 1963.
8 See Kosmos i pravo; Deistvuiuschiye mezhdunarodnye soglasheniya i predotvrascheniye
razmescheniya oruzhiya v kosmicheskom prostranstve [Outer Space and Law: International
Agreements in Force and the Prohibition of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space]
(CD/1780, May 2006).
9 Kosmos i pravo.
10 N. L. Johnson, Soviet Military Strategy in Space (London: Jane’s Publishing Company
Limited, 1987); J. Oberg, Red Star in Orbit (New York: Random House, 1981).
11 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, US National Space Policy, http://
12 P. Hayes, United States Military Space into the Twenty-First Century, Occasional paper, [S.I.],
USAF Inst. for National Security Studies; no. 42, 2002, 85.
13 B. Hurewitz, “Non-Proliferation and Free Access to Space: The Dual-Use Dilemma of the
Outer Space Treaty and the Missile Technology Control Regime,” Berkeley Technology Law
Journal, vol. 9, no. 2 (Spring 1994).
14 See: A. Arbatov, Bezopasnost: rossiyskiy vybor [Security: The Russian Choice] (Moscow,
1999), 456–468.
15 S. Lakeoff and H. York, A Shield in Space? Technologies, Politics, and the Strategic Defense
Initiative (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1989), 182–184.
16 P. Stares, “Déjà-vu: The ASAT Debate in Historical Context,” Arms Control Today (Decem-
ber 1983): 2.
17 See http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/russia/r-36o.htm.
18 W. Slocombe, “Approaches to an ASAT Treaty,” in Space Weapons: The Arms Control
Dilemma, Bhupendra Jasani, ed. (London: Taylor and Francis, 1984) 149.
19 U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Antisatellite Weapons, Countermeasures
and Arms Control (Washington: OTA, Sept. 1985), 95-96.
20 Nuclear Arms Control: Background and Issues (National Academy Press, [S. l.], 1985), 162.
21 Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Strategic Defense and Antisatellite Weapons Hear-
ing, 98th Congress, 2nd session (Washington: U.S. GPO, 1984), 191, 217.
22 Report to the Congress on U.S. Policy on ASAT Arms Control, March 31, 1984 (Washington:
U.S. GPO, 1984), 1.
23 See the eighth chapter in the study: Kosmicheskoye oruzhiye: dilemmy bezopasnosti
[Space Weapons: Security Dilemmas] (Moscow: Mir, 1986).

24 E. Velikhov, R. Sagdeyev and A. Kokoshin, “SOI: Opasnosti, illyuzii, alternativy” [SDI: Dan-
gers, Illusions, Alternatives], Novoye vremya (special issue, 1987).
25 United Nations General Assembly, Document A/36/192, August 20, 1981; CD/274, April 7,
26 United Nations General Assembly, Document A/38/194, August 26, 1983; CD/476, March
20, 1984.
27 U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Arms Control in Space: Workshop Pro-
ceedings, OTA-BP-ISC-28, May 1984, 27.
28 United Nations General Assembly, Document A/39/243b, September 27, 1984.
29 A. Piradov, “Creating a World Space Organization,” Space Policy (May 1988): 112–114.
30 Arms Control in Space: Workshop Proceedings.
31 “Russian and China Introduce a Draft Treaty on Space Weapons,” Disarmament Diplomacy,
no. 66 (September 2002), http://www.acronym.org.uk/dd/dd66/66nr07.htm.
32 Conference on Disarmament Document CD/777, July 31, 1987.
33 Conference on Disarmament Document CD/OS/WP.39, August 2, 1989.
34 Arms Control in Space: Workshop Proceedings.
35 T. Weiner, “Lies and Rigged ‘Star Wars’ Test Fooled the Kremlin, and Congress,” New York
Times, August 18, 1984.
36 See: S. Talbott, The Master of the Game: Paul Nitze and Nuclear Peace (New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1988).
37 More specifically, the accusations referred to the alleged Soviet plans to give antimis-
sile warfare capabilities to the country’s S-300 (SA-10) and S-300B (SA-12) air defense
systems, its Okno optical-electronic space surveillance system in Nurek (Tajikistan), and
several of its experimental land-based lasers.
38 “Visit to Sary Shagan and Kyshtym,” Science and Global Security 1, no. 1–2 (1989) 165.
39 B. Moskvin and S. Oznobishchev, “Rossiya-SShA: Realno li voyenno-kosmicheskoye
sotrudnichestvo?” [Russia-USA: Is Military and Outer-Space Cooperation Realistic?],
Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunar. Otnosheniya, no. 8 (1992).
40 V. Mizin, S. Oznobishchev, and S. Rogov, “Swings in the Soviet and U.S. Strategic Defense
Policies in Retrospect,” Implications of Strategic Defense Deployments for US-Russian Rela-
tions (Washington: Stimson Center, June 1992).
41 A. Carter, “Limitations and Allowances for Space-Based Weapons,” Defending Deterrence:
Managing the ABM Treaty Regime into the 21st Century, A. Chayes and P. Doty, eds. (Wash-
ington: Pergamon-Brassey’s, 1989), 134–151.

vikTOR miZin 67

Since the beginning of the space age, the world community has developed
much of the diplomatic and legal foundation for preventing an arms race in
space and ensuring the security of civilian and military spacecraft and activities
there. However, international diplomacy has failed to build on these accom-
plishments during the past decade.

Despite its stated goal of establishing relations based on partnership, the George
W. Bush administration did all it could to avoid finalizing any formal security agree-
ments with Russia, particularly in the field of space activity—a field in which the
United States had traditionally maintained a free hand and where it felt itself to be
technologically and economically superior.

Recent international efforts to erect new legal barriers to an arms race in space
have been feeble and unsuccessful. Aside from the negative U.S. attitude, Russia’s
continuing difficult relations with the West have also contributed to this failure. In
the end, the lengthy discussions that eventually produced United Nations General
Assembly Resolution 57 of 2002 on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer
Space resulted in provisions containing too many compromises and attached little
responsibility to the parties involved. It included only a general appeal “to contrib-
ute actively to the objective of the peaceful use of outer space and of the preven-
tion of an arms race in outer space.” 1

Russia introduced the draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weap-
ons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects for

SERgEy OZnObiShChEv 69
UN discussion in 2008. This treaty contained only one restrictive article—Article II,
which is a word-for-word match for the phraseology of Article IV of the Treaty on
Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer
Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, a 40-year-old document
(January 27, 1967). However, if the Treaty of that time had presented the require-
ment “not to place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weap-
ons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on
celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner,” 2
then the same phrase was applied to “any kinds of weapon” 3 in the new version.
Although the Russian draft failed to achieve a breakthrough in the international
legal principles preventing an arms race in space, it did represent another step
forward in this field.

The United States immediately rejected any possibility of concluding a treaty on
the “placement of weapons in outer space.” White House press secretary Dana
Perino stated that “the United States opposes the development of legal regimes or
other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit access to or use of space.” According
to Perino, such an agreement would be impossible to verify. Instead, the adminis-
tration advocated preventing an arms race in space by “continuing the dialogue to
enhance transparency and increase trust among the interested parties.” 4

The emerging deadlock over ways to create a legal foundation for the non-
weaponization of space motivated the world’s experts to seek out alternative
approaches and methods for achieving this goal, one of which involved attempt-
ing to reach less formal agreements, such as a code of conduct or an opera-
tional framework for work in outer space, based on the acknowledgment that a
full-scale agreement would be unattainable given the prevailing conditions. The
discussions and gradual coordination of principles needed to adopt such a code
of conduct would bring about necessary but voluntary restrictions, while broad-
ening support for the fundamental principles of using outer space exclusively for
peaceful or military-support purposes.

Presently, experts are discussing several versions of such codes introduced at
both the national and international levels using the terminology of documents cir-
culating at official levels, but with more general and indirect limitations that would
make them palatable to leading Western nations, above all the United States.

The new administration in Washington could potentially lead to a more favorable
consideration of the issues surrounding the non-militarization of space. However, if
such full-scale negotiations ever do begin, then for objective reasons (reviewed in
detail in the previous chapters), they are likely to be protracted and arduous. As an
interim solution, the various versions of codes of conduct might be brought to the
forefront as politically binding documents unencumbered by complex definitions,
accounting and counting rules, and methods of verification and data exchange. It
is worth considering these drafts in greater detail.

When concluding a formal agreement would be overly complex, excessive, or
politically difficult, it is common global practice to draft codes of conduct, such
as the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation,
adopted in November 2002 in The Hague. There are now more than 120 nations
party to this code.

This development is telling: only 34 nations joined the Missile Technology Con-
trol Regime adopted in 1987, primarily because its restrictions were perceived as
unverifiable. In the absence of a reliable regional and global security system, a
significant number of nations would prefer to have the freedom to develop and
use missile technology themselves.

The new code contains declarations of the need to prevent and restrain missile
proliferation and of the importance of reinforcing disarmament and nonprolifera-
tion mechanisms and increasing the transparency of missile programs, and calls
for reductions in the national stockpiles of such missiles.5 Its provisions are mostly
declarative in nature and not supported by any binding obligations on the member
states. Still, a document of this type does establish certain regulations for the
development and export of missiles and missile technologies, and establishes a
framework for signatories to register their space launches and report these to
other member states.

However, U.S. policy, which always strives for the utmost freedom of action in
space, poses a serious problem for the code. Citing the missile launch notifica-
tion requirement adopted in the 2002 joint Declaration on the Establishment of
a Joint Center for the Exchange of Data from Early Warning Systems and Noti-
fications of Missile Launches, Washington refused to present any information
about its booster launches, opting instead to wait for the Center to open. As
the center was never operational, the United States never presented any data
at all. In 2008, Russia, which until then had been observing this provision of the
code, also stopped providing information about its vehicle launches, although
both countries continued to submit notification on strategic missile launches in
accordance with START I.

Another relevant precedent is the highly detailed European Code of Conduct in
Coastal Zones, approved in April 1999 by the authorized committee of the Council
of Europe. It consists of fifteen chapters describing the main problems associated
with the use and preservation of coastal areas. At its core are a set of basic rec-
ommendations for the future development of national legislation and international
legal documents that address the comprehensive management of coastal activity.
A similar objective is in fact being pursued by those who favor drafting codes of
conduct for outer space.

SERgEy OZnObiShChEv 71
dRAFTing COdES FOR SPACE The history of negotiations on space
weapons over previous decades (including antisatellite and space-based BMD
systems) reveals the enormous complexity of trying to impose treaty-based legal
restrictions on space systems. In light of the dissolution of the ABM Treaty due
to the United States’ unilateral withdrawal in 2002 and the subsequent stall in
negotiations on nuclear weapons reductions, the political environment for such
negotiations has become even less favorable.

At the same time, should leading nations adopt the Code of Conduct for Outer
Space Activities (COC), this could help increase the level of national responsibility
in this area and create the conditions that would favor drafting more binding and
formal agreements in the future. Several versions of a possible COC now enjoy
reasonably broad support throughout the world; a number of similar drafts are cur-
rently being discussed within the expert community and even in official circles.

Several of the authors of this book (Alexei Arbatov, Vladimir Dvorkin, and Sergey
Oznobishchev) took direct part in developing one version under the auspices of
the Henry L. Stimson Center, during which the Russian participants gradually
formed a common position and a set of proposals for what the COC should con-
tain. As later became clear, these proposals went much farther than did those of
the foreign experts participating in the Stimson Center project.

The Russian experts suggested that the COC should ban any activities aimed at
either destroying or reducing the stable operation of systems in space and should
restrict the creation, deployment, and use of any weapons systems designed with
this purpose in mind. Another potential objective for the COC might be to impose
certain limits on the provocative deployment of destabilizing surveillance and
reconnaissance systems in space.

Prohibitions of this kind should be in effect during times of peace and war. None-
theless, it could hardly be expected that nations during an armed conflict would
abide by bans on interfering with such systems as GLONASS, NAVSTAR, and
Galileo, which are the primary systems supporting precision-guided weapons, or
with the functions of other military or dual-use support systems.

In the opinion of the Russian experts, the COC should primarily focus on identify-
ing the objects of space systems whose working capacity can be disturbed by
outside intrusion. It should then determine the ways in which these objects could
be affected and the methods that could be used, and finally it should indicate the
types of weapons that could be deployed in space or fired from Earth against
spacecraft. The Russian proposals also include expanded suggestions for these
definitions. As the scope of legal limitations has been disputed, the authors of this
particular COC draft avoided any descriptive definitions of the subject, focusing
instead on the rights and responsibilities of space-capable nations.

In explaining the logic behind this formulation of the COC, the Russian side pointed
out that in theory this document should have banned the testing, deployment, and

use of all destruction facilities that are aimed at objects of space systems and all
means that impede their functioning. This includes laser, kinetic, electromagnetic,
particle-beam, and other weapons (except for nuclear weapons, which are already
prohibited from being launched into space or tested by the 1967 Outer Space
Treaty and by the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, respectively). The Russian experts
underscored the special role played by strategic BMD systems, which unquestion-
ably have antisatellite potential. Since the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty,
there have been no formal limitations on the development and deployment of
these systems, so the COC could potentially appeal to nations to refrain from test-
ing strategic BMD systems that could target spacecraft.

The experts also mentioned the problem of banning the development, testing, and
use of weapons that could either destroy or interfere with terrestrial spacecraft
control and communication systems. There is currently a wide variety of weapons
systems with such capabilities that are either available for use or presently under-
going testing. For that reason, the COC would only be able to call for restraint by
the nations in developing, testing, and using these weapons systems.

The restrictions could be much stricter on weapons systems deployed in space to
attack other objects in space or on Earth, or to target spacecraft. The COC could
contain an appeal that nations refrain from the development, testing, production,
deployment, and use of these systems.

It must be stressed that verification of compliance with these terms using national
technical means would be tremendously difficult. Inasmuch as the COC is essen-
tially a statement of intentions based on voluntary accord between nations, it need
not contain strict definitions, precise restrictions and verification procedures, or
sanctions for violating its terms. In this, it would be similar to other documents
of this kind, such as the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile
Proliferation, described above.

The COC could be developed conceptually in several ways. One of these, pre-
ferred by Western colleagues, involves making a declaration of rather general
principles that would evoke no objections and would be acceptable to most par-
ties. Another approach would be to voluntarily agree to prohibit certain weapons
systems or development stages (for example, testing). The parties could also
declare their intention to agree on the characteristics of stability and on actions
that could destabilize the situation in space (a sudden buildup of particular sat-
ellite constellations, dangerously close spacecraft flybys, and so on). The long-
term goals could include the prohibition of weapons systems designed to destroy
objects in space from Earth.

The goal of the COC should not be to prohibit outright, but rather to allow the
nations to declare their intention to keep within certain developmental limits
and to refrain from pursuing certain kinds of activity. The Russian experts
felt that the COC should provide an opportunity for the parties to refrain

SERgEy OZnObiShChEv 73
from developing weapons systems in space by voluntarily refusing to either
test or deploy such weaponry.

A commitment to the COC as a joint declaration of intent carries more weight
in democratic nations, where military programs and their financing are transpar-
ent, and military agencies and the military-industrial complex are monitored by
independent government and civilian groups. Without these, authoritarian lead-
ers could feel free to breach any code they might sign, so long as their viola-
tions remain hidden from the view of the world community. Even then, evidence
of violations could be convincingly confirmed or refuted only in the presence of
precise specifications of what is subject to prohibition, limitation, or monitoring.
This means that a precondition for adopting such documents as the COC must
be a considerable degree of transparency in the associated areas, including the
military space programs of all of the participating countries. Perhaps the most
positive contribution the COC could make would be for it to establish the political
preconditions needed for a rapid transition to negotiations on legally binding trea-
ties on prevention of space weapons developments.

Only a few of the Russian proposals were incorporated into the model COC of
October 2007 that resulted from the joint efforts by non-governmental organiza-
tions from Canada, Russia, France, Japan, and the United States.6 It could not
have been otherwise, as the document was the product of a compromise aimed at
gaining the approval of the leading nations at an official level.

Most of the model COC consists of acknowledgments typical of such interna-
tional documents, such as the importance of a number of currently existing prin-
ciples and acts for the peaceful use of outer space. It recognizes certain rights
of space-faring nations, including the right to self-defense under the UN Charter.
The model COC concludes with nine “responsibilities for space-faring states,”
including the responsibility to respect the rights of other space-faring nations,
abide by the “rules of safe space operation” (not yet propounded in law), attempt
to minimize space debris, and consult with other space-faring states regarding
activities of concern in space.

The model COC is most specific in its declaration of the responsibility of nations
to strive to minimize the amount of space debris resulting from their activities. As
the authors of this draft saw it, such a responsibility would imply refraining from
testing antisatellite systems that would result in the destruction of target satel-
lites. Another important responsibility was to refrain from creating interference
harmful to objects in space. Although this provision may be subject to rather loose
interpretation, it established the grounds for “the right of consultation” mentioned
above, while the final responsibility calls for the establishment of “consultative pro-
cedures” to resolve questions relating to compliance with the COC.

The draft developed by the Eisenhower Institute in Washington, D.C. went much
further.7 Its proposed Framework for Space Security should probably be classified

as a voluntary agreement rather than a treaty. Its goal is to coordinate the actions
of governments that recognize the need to adopt certain norms for strengthening
the security of all participants in space activity.

Unlike the model COC, the Framework presents an entire list of basic definitions
for the purposes of the document. It proposes a specific set of obligations that
each party to the agreement must accept, key among which is an agreement to
refrain from testing destructive antisatellite weapons in space and deploying any
space-based antisatellite systems. In addition, it proposes a ban on the deployment
and testing of weapons components for space-based missile defense systems, as
these would be “indistinguishable from a destructive space-based weapon.” 8

In order to create and strengthen trust-building measures in this area, the Frame-
work proposed establishing a jointly sponsored Coordinated Space Awareness
Center capable of detecting, tracking, and identifying man-made objects in orbit
around the Earth. The proposals in the Framework are thus more specific, although
for understandable reasons its definitions remain rather general and the details of
its verification measures largely undeveloped. Therefore, this draft is also plagued
by the same political problems as noted above and represents something of an
interim link between codes and treaties.

The viability of a COC was boosted considerably by the Council of the European
Union at the end of 2008 in its proposed Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activi-
ties, which promulgated a number of important principles intended to enhance
progress toward averting an arms race in space. Under the document’s general
principles, the participating states would resolve to abide by a certain set of prin-
ciples on the use of outer space, such as freedom of access to outer space while
“fully respecting the security, safety and integrity of space objects in orbit,” or the
need for countries to “take all the appropriate measures and cooperate in good
faith to prevent harmful interference in outer space activities.” 9

In the section dedicated to space operations, the document enjoins its signa-
tories to “refrain from any intentional action which will or might bring about,
directly or indirectly, the damage or destruction of outer space objects.” To
meet these objectives, signatories shall “resolve to share” information annually
on “national space policies and strategies, including basic objectives for secu-
rity and defense related activities.” 10

In its cover letter, the Council of the European Union has declared its support for the
enclosed Code of Conduct. The appearance of this European Union draft represents
the first indication to date that this type of document is now moving from the discus-
sion stage to the practical. As may be seen from the provisions cited above, the prin-
ciples contained in this draft document are also rather general: there are no outright
restrictions on the development, testing, or deployment of any weapons systems that
target space objects or can be used from space against other objects in space or on
Earth, nor does it contain any definitions of its main tenets and terms.

SERgEy OZnObiShChEv 75
The potential signatories would be the members of the European Union, not
the United States, the main source of concern today in terms of the threat of
an arms race in space. Nonetheless, if adopted, this would mark a step toward
a broader consensus among a number of leading countries (including the chief
American allies) about the importance of preventing such a race, which in turn
would put pressure on Washington to adopt such restrictions. Should the Euro-
pean nations adopt the proposed code, this would also set the stage for this ini-
tiative to move on to the global arena, where its provisions could potentially be
expanded with new restrictions. None of this, however, should relieve nations of
their responsibility to develop stricter legal restrictions to ensure by treaty that
space is used only for peaceful purposes.

In the course of discussing and gradually achieving compromise on principles for
a COC, the necessary restrictions would come into play and consensus on a num-
ber of basic principles relating to the peaceful use of space would increase, which
would facilitate subsequent progress toward a legally binding agreement.

Aside from the initiative by the European Union, there are also some grounds for
optimism in the change of administration in the United States, which has pro-
vided the first hints of a shift in Washington’s position, even if only in words. In his
election campaign, Barack Obama promised to “restore U.S. leadership on space
issues.” For the first time the United States would adopt a “code of conduct for
space-faring nations, including a worldwide ban on weapons to interfere with sat-
ellites and a ban on testing antisatellite weapons.” 11 This statement quite possibly
reflects the input of Susan Eisenhower and her colleagues, who had enthusiasti-
cally supported Obama’s candidacy.

So far, its statements suggest that the United States has decided in favor of
the political and legal approach to safeguarding activities in space. However,
if this promise should become active U.S. policy, some serious obstacles will
have to be overcome before agreements could be concluded, one of which is
the recent deterioration in U.S.-Russian relations and the decline in the mutual
trust needed to achieve progress.

What lies ahead is a serious discussion of the advantages and shortcomings of
the various draft treaties and codes; identification of areas of agreement, verifica-
tion options, and transparency measures; and the resolution of numerous other
complex issues. A truly constructive approach could eventually result in practical,
legally binding, and verifiable treaties in this vital field.

1 “Predotvrashchenie gonki vooruzheniy v kosmicheskom prostranstve” [Preventing an Arms
Race in Outer Space], A/RES/57/57.
2 “Dogovor o printsipakh deyatelnosti gosudarstv po issledovaniyu i ispolzovaniyu kosmi-
cheskogo prostranstva, vklyuchaya Lunu i drugie nebesnye tela” [An Agreement on the
Principles of the Actions of Governments in Regard to the Study and Use of Outer Space,

Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies], January 21, 1967, Deystvuyuscheye mezh-
dunarodnoye pravo 3 (Moscow: MNIMP Publishing House, 1997): 625–630.
3 “Dogovor o predotvrascheniyi razmescheniya oruzhiya v kosmicheskom prostranstve,
primeneniya sily ili ugrozy siloj v otnosheniyi kosmicheskikh objektov: Proekt” [An Agree-
ment on the Prohibition of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and the Threat or Use
of Force in Relation to Objects in Space: A Project], http://www.mid.ru/ns-dvbr.nsf/8329e2a
4 “SSHA otvergli dogovor o nerazmeshchenii oruzhiya v kosmose” [U.S. Rejects Treaty on
the Non-Deployment of Arms in Space], http://lenta.ru/news/2008/02/12/reject.
5 The Code also includes provisions proclaiming the nations’ agreement on the need to
make annual declarations outlining their ballistic missile policies and single-use space
launch vehicle programs, and to provide annual information on “the number and generic
class of ballistic missiles launched during the preceding year.” See: “International Code of
Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation,” A/57/724, http://www.un.org/russian/docu-
6 “Model Code of Conduct for Responsible Space-Faring Nations,” released by the Stimson
Center, October 24, 2007, http://www.stimson.org/pub.cfm?ID=575.
7 “Framework of Space Security: An Alternative to the Weaponization of Space,” http://www.
8 Ibid.
9 Council of the European Union, “Annex II. Draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities”
(Brussels, December 3, 2008), http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st17/st17175.
10 Ibid.
11 “Preventing Arms Race in Outer Space: Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Defense Issues,”

SERgEy OZnObiShChEv 77

The enormous complexity of banning or limiting weapons in space through legal
means is evident from the experience of negotiations conducted to prohibit such
weaponry. Despite the Cold War ending two decades ago, the current political,
military/strategic, and legal environment for such negotiations and agreements is
even less favorable, for a number of reasons.

First, the near total dismantlement of the system of international disarmament
treaties, from the United States’ failure to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test
Ban Treaty (CTBT) to its decision to withdraw from the ABM Treaty at the begin-
ning of the current decade, has adversely affected the environment for negotia-
tions. It is also quite telling that no new disarmament agreements have taken legal
effect since 1994 (START I), with the exception of the 2002 Strategic Offensive
Reductions Treaty (SORT), the status of which is highly unclear. The remaining
treaties and agreements have not been signed, or have been signed but not rati-
fied, or have been ratified but remain unsupported by a system of counting rules
and verification and therefore have not come into effect (Table 9).

AlExEi ARbATOv 79
Table 9. Collapse of the Nuclear Disarmament System


Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmo- 1963 In effect, provided with
sphere, in Outer Space and Under Water verification measures
Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States 1967 In effect, not provided with a
in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including verification system
the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (The Outer
Space Treaty)
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons 1968 In effect, verification system
Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of 1971 In effect, not provided with a
Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass verification system
Destruction on the Seabed and the Ocean Floor and
in the Subsoil thereof (Seabed Treaty)
Treaty Between the USSR and the USA on the Limita- 1972 The U.S. withdrew from the
tion of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) Treaty in 2002
Interim Agreement Between the USSR and the USA 1972 Expired in 1977
on Certain Measures with Respect to Limitation of
Strategic Offensive Arms (SALT I)
Treaty Between the USSR and the USA on the Limita- 1974 In effect, provided with
tion of Underground Nuclear Weapons Tests (also verification measures
known as the Threshold Test Ban Treaty) TTBT)
Treaty Between the USSR and the USA on Under- 1976 In effect, provided with
ground Nuclear Explosions for Peaceful Purposes verification measures
Treaty Between the USSR and the USA on the Limita- 1979 Has not come into effect
tion of Strategic Offensive Arms (SALT II)
Treaty Between the USSR and the USA on Intermedi- 1987 Implemented, provided with
ate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) verification measures, Rus-
sia considers withdrawing
Treaty Between the USSR and the USA on the 1991/ Expired on December 5,
Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms 1994 2009
Treaty Between the USSR and the USA on Further 1993 Has not come into effect
Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) 1996 Has not come into effect
(not ratified by the U.S. and
some other countries)
The Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty — The negotiations that began
in 1993 are in a deadlock
Framework Agreement Between the Russian Federa- 1997 Has not come into effect
tion and the USA on the Reduction of Strategic Arms
Agreement Between Russia and the USA on the 1997 Has not come into effect
Delimitation of Strategic and Non-Strategic BMD
Treaty Between Russia and the USA on the Strategic 2002 Remains in effect until
Offensive Reductions (SORT) December 31, 2012; is not
in full effect: does not have
counting rules and verifica-
tion measures

Note: The table does include nuclear-free zone treaties, which are general in nature.
Key: Treaties still In effect
Treaties that never entered into effect
Treaties likely to expire or become void

The military space programs of certain nations, primarily the United States, further
complicate matters by seeking to create instruments of war in space, either with
the blatant goal of securing military superiority, or under the pretext that such
weapon systems would be impossible to prohibit or limit. At the same time, orbital
information networks and other types of support (non-weapon) systems are
becoming the most important and irreplaceable component of modern conven-
tional warfare, making them inevitable targets for attack.1

As an example, the new U.S. Prompt Global Strike strategy employs conven-
tionally armed strategic delivery vehicles (Trident II submarine-launched ballistic
missiles) against enemy targets, which would hardly be possible without reliance
on space-based support systems.2 Although Russia has not been named as a
potential foe, Moscow does not believe that such expensive conventionally armed
delivery vehicles are to be used solely against rogue nations.

Absorbing the recent experiences of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, Rus-
sia’s official military and political leadership and expert community have, for their
part, countered with a new military doctrine that focuses on repelling aerospace
attacks.3 Only a minority of Russian experts questions these ideas.4

This concept of repelling aerospace attacks clearly prioritizes striking at the
most vulnerable link of such a threat (spacecraft), relying on antisatellite
systems to execute the attacks. As Russian military experts have written,
“Considering the growing dependence of modern armed forces effective-
ness on the space component…. The threat and actual use of antisatellite
systems against the enemy could be viewed as an additional—and, in some
cases, independent—factor in deterring an aggressor from using its armed
forces…. And it cannot be ruled out that the antisatellite weapons devel-

AlExEi ARbATOv 81
oped for the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation could become the
‘bridle’ that greatly restrains implementation of those ambitious plans by the
American and NATO ‘cowboys.’” 5

Tension in U.S.-Russian relations has also recently increased, in the aftermath of
the August 2008 conflict in the South Caucasus, compounding the difficulties
of successful negotiations. The crisis provided an outlet for all the latent griev-
ances, mistrust, and animosity that the two nations had built up against each
other over the preceding two decades as a consequence of the growing number
of problems that remain unresolved but are masked by cosmetic declarations of
partnership and cooperation.

Nevertheless, with improved political relations between the leading powers and
renewed serious disarmament negotiations—particularly on nuclear arms—space
will inevitably return to the disarmament agenda. Although these positive precon-
ditions are critical to establishing a favorable environment for future negotiations,
they by no means eliminate the need for a thorough study of all of the aspects
involved, which is just as critical to the prospects of the negotiations.

The subject of the non-militarization and non-weaponization of space remains just
as relevant today, as the Chinese antisatellite system test of 2007 and the U.S. sat-
ellite interception experiment of 2008 have confirmed yet again. During that same
year, a new Russian-Chinese draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement
of Weapons in Outer Space (PPWT) was presented at the Geneva Conference
on Disarmament, and, although it perhaps did not resolve all of the many issues,
it at least affirmed the urgent nature of the problem, as did the largely positive
response the draft received from most of the conference participants.

PROPOSAlS FOR UnivERSAl AgREEmEnTS Although contemporary
space law prohibits placing nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruc-
tion in orbit around the Earth, installing them on celestial bodies, or placing them
in orbit around these bodies, these prohibitions are not yet supported by a system
of verification and monitoring. The following are also prohibited: testing nuclear
weapons in outer space, establishing military bases or conducting military tests
and maneuvers on celestial bodies or in orbit around them, conducting hostile
actions or using force on celestial bodies or in orbit around them, and deliberately
deploying debris in orbits in order to disrupt the normal operation of spacecraft
(provisions of the 1977 Convention).

The law does not currently prohibit the placement of any weapons in space that
are not weapons of mass destruction; nor is there any prohibition on the develop-
ment, testing, and deployment of antisatellite weapons in space. Following the
U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2002, there have been no restrictions on
the development, testing, or deployment of space-based BMD systems or their
components. The law also tacitly allows for anti-BMD systems and weapons, as

82 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE
well as active and passive satellite defenses; the development and deployment in
space of optical electronic (for example, laser) and radio electronic countermea-
sures; and the staging of applied military space experiments of any type, except
those involving hostile environmental modification techniques.

On February 12, 2008, the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China
presented a joint draft of the PPWT at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament.6
This issue had already been under discussion at the Conference for over five years.

The first suggestion that a universal agreement should be achieved to prohibit
deployment of any weapons in outer space, the use of force or the threat of
force against objects in space, and a moratorium on the deployment of weapons
in outer space until conclusion of such an agreement was made by the Russian
foreign minister at the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on
September 24, 2001. Subsequently, a working paper entitled “Possible Elements
for a Future International Legal Agreement on the Prevention of the Deployment
of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space
Objects” was submitted to the Geneva Conference on Disarmament on June 27,
2002. In 2004–2005, Russia and China provided the Conference with materials
about the rules of international law that regulate military activity in outer space.

The draft PPWT was submitted to the Conference with a research mandate in
2008 in hopes that if the reviews were favorable the appropriate committee would
initiate discussions on the draft. The preamble of the document reaffirms that the
role of outer space has been expanding steadily, and that nations are entitled to
explore and use outer space freely for peaceful purposes. It notes the positive
influence exerted by existing agreements on arms control and disarmament in
outer space, including bilateral agreements and existing legal regimes.

Specifically, Article I defines the term “outer space” as “the space above the Earth
in excess of 100 km above sea level.” This definition is not a new one, and is a fea-
ture of the laws of a number of nations. The Russian interpretation of international
space law accepts the standard boundary between the atmosphere and space as
being 100–110 kilometers above sea level. In enhancement of common legal prac-
tice, the term “outer space object” was further defined as “any device designed to
function in outer space which is launched into an orbit around any celestial body,
or located in orbit around any celestial body, or on any celestial body, except the
Earth, or leaving orbit around any celestial body towards this celestial body, or
moving from any celestial body towards another celestial body, or placed in outer
space by any other means.” At the same time, the distinction was drawn between
two types of space objects: objects that are designed to execute launches and
remain under national jurisdiction, and objects that have been accelerated to the
first (orbital) or second (escape) cosmic velocities to enter space, with the latter
falling under the jurisdiction of international space law.

For the purposes of the Treaty, the term “weapon in outer space” is defined as
“any device placed in outer space, based on any physical principle, which has been

AlExEi ARbATOv 83
specially produced or converted to destroy, damage or disrupt the normal func-
tioning of objects in outer space, on the Earth or in the Earth’s atmosphere, or
to eliminate population or components of the biosphere which are important to
human existence or inflict damage on them.” It stipulates that a weapon will be
considered to have been deployed in outer space if it orbits the Earth at least
once, or follows a section of this orbit before leaving it, or is permanently stationed
somewhere in outer space. This excludes various classes of ballistic missiles that
transit through outer space to carry out their military missions (including satellite
interception), but do not enter Earth’s orbit.

The terms “use of force” and “threat of force” are defined as “any hostile actions
against objects in space, including, inter alia, actions aimed at destroying them,
damaging them, temporarily or permanently disrupting their normal functioning or
deliberately changing their orbit parameters, or the threat of such actions.”

According to Article II of the draft PPWT, “the States Parties undertake not to
place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying any kinds of weapons, not to
install such weapons on celestial bodies and not to place such weapons in outer
space in any other manner; not to resort to the threat or use of force against
outer space objects; and not to assist or induce other States, groups of States
or international organizations to participate in activities prohibited by this Treaty.”
Article IV of the draft PPWT declares: “Nothing in this Treaty may be interpreted
as impeding the exercise by the States Parties of their right to explore and use
outer space for peaceful purposes in accordance with international law, including
the Charter of the United Nations and the Outer Space Treaty.”

Verification of compliance with the Treaty must be addressed in an additional
protocol. The draft indicates that “with a view to promoting confidence in compli-
ance with the provisions of the Treaty and ensuring transparency and confidence-
building in outer space activities, the States Parties shall implement agreed confidence-
building measures on a voluntary basis, unless agreed otherwise” (Article VI).

An executive organization of the PPWT will be created specifically as a mechanism
to be used for resolving disputes that arise from the application or interpretation of
its provisions. If a dispute does arise, the interested parties are to consult with each
other with the goal of settling the matter through negotiation and cooperation. If,
however, the States Parties should fail to come to an agreement after such consul-
tations, the dispute can be referred by the interested State Party to the executive
organization of the PPWT, along with the relevant argumentation (Article VII).

The Russian-Chinese PPWT initiative was generally well received by the inter-
national community (with the notable exception of the United States). Germany,
in particular, announced that it intends to play a constructive part in discussing
the draft, and that it favors adopting a new, binding document to control weap-
ons in outer space. Germany, like the other members of the European Union,
believes that the prime objective has now become to discuss and adopt the Code
of Conduct for Outer Space Activity as a way to improve security in this sphere.

84 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE
Moreover, Germany feels that the political conditions are not yet right to adopt a
full-scale treaty prohibiting weapons in space (the COC was developed under the
auspices of the European Union and then was to be submitted to the Geneva
Conference on Disarmament).

Speaking on behalf of the Group of 21,7 Syria supported the draft, along with
Kazakhstan and the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent
States, as did the Netherlands, Romania, and several other nations favoring pro-
ceeding with its elaboration.

The negative stance that Washington took on the Russian-Chinese draft can be
explained by its unwillingness to allow its hands to be tied with respect to the
development of its military space program. In practical terms, the United States is
interested only in discussing specific transparency and confidence-building issues
that could help resolve individual problems linked to the use of space.

The new Russian-Chinese initiative reaffirmed the bilateral approach that the two
powers took on this strategic issue. It is obvious that this coincidence of interests
stems from their concern over the U.S. strategic BMD program, which is theoreti-
cally capable of degrading their nuclear deterrence potential.

It is also interesting that this treaty covers only weapons that have been
deployed in space and excludes Earth-to-space systems, which are developing
most rapidly and could begin service within the foreseeable future. Instead, it
addresses only the BMD and ASAT space systems and space-to-Earth weap-
ons, which might emerge only in the more distant future, if ever. This marks a
significant departure from the unrealistic but comprehensive Soviet stance of
the 1980s, apparently because China and possibly Russia have been develop-
ing land-based antisatellite systems as an asymmetrical response to a potential
U.S. space-based BMD system. There are probably also plans to target the
U.S. systems in space that provide informational support for both BMD and
the massive numbers of long-range, high-precision conventional weapons that
could be used in a new, high-tech war. Although this discriminatory approach
may be quite understandable from a military standpoint, it could hardly become
a basis for practical negotiations.

Another characteristic feature of the Treaty is that problems relating to verification
(the most difficult but also most critical issue for military space systems) have
been bypassed by referring to a supplementary protocol and voluntary confidence-
building measures. In the interim, verification capabilities (which usually apply to
space weapons based on Earth) are absolutely key in determining what may or
may not be prohibited or restricted during the first stage of the negotiations, as
was the case with the negotiations on SALT I and SALT II during the 1970s.

The multilateral format of the participants for the proposed draft also raises seri-
ous doubts. The highly advanced technical systems that the draft covers relate to
strategic weapons and systems that are essentially only available to a few nations,

AlExEi ARbATOv 85
while the issues involved are particularly sensitive. It would therefore hardly be
reasonable to expect any practical negotiations to result from this multilateral
approach (based on the model of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Devel-
opment, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their
Destruction (CWC), or the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Pro-
duction and Stockpiling of Bacteriological [Biological] and Toxin Weapons and on
their Destruction (BTWC). A bi- or at the very most a trilateral format (Russia–the
United States–the PRC) would seem more logical, at least at the initial stage.

It should be emphasized that the problem of space non-militarization will most likely
be impossible to resolve through a single, all-encompassing treaty. Outer space
is a fundamentally new arena for a potential arms race or armed conflict, and the
stakes, both from a military standpoint and in scientific and commercial terms, are
extremely high. These weapon systems are all still early in development, and their
technologies—hidden in a thick veil of secrecy—are exceptionally complex, multi-
functional, and expensive. The methods required for monitoring and verification
would be extremely difficult to execute. Therefore, if space disarmament and arms
limitations talks ever do begin in a practical format, it will be a complex, prolonged,
and multi-stage process that probably is comparable more to negotiations over the
strategic arms reduction and limitation agreement than the CWC or BTWC.

On the whole, the new Russia-China initiative achieved some positive results, but
for political propaganda rather than practical disarmament. This was not entirely
futile, especially while the official U.S. position remained obstinate. But once
Washington shifts its stance to a more constructive one and practical negotiations
are held on the non-militarization of space that include the cardinal problem of
verification, there could be many surprises and complications in store for Russia
and China along the way.

There have been historical precedents for this, such as the experience with the
debates in the United Nations on universal and complete nuclear disarmament
that in the 1960s were transformed into negotiations on specific BMD systems
and strategic ballistic missiles under SALT I. It is appropriate to remember that
when, after two decades of heated polemics at all international forums, U.S. Sec-
retary of Defense Robert McNamara proposed to Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin
in Glassboro in 1967 that the sides begin the arms limitation process by mutually
renouncing antimissile defense, he was flatly turned down. The supporting argu-
ment was that BMD was a morally justifiable system designed to defend people
against offensive nuclear arms. Thus began the long journey through successes
and failures that remains unfinished and to which no end is yet in sight.

ESTAbliShing ThE SUbjECT OF nEgOTiATiOn Experience from the
initiatives and negotiations conducted on this issue over many years has first and
foremost confirmed the fact that opinions in diplomatic and expert circles on the

86 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE
subject of legal regulation itself are highly ambiguous and are based upon differing
interpretations. Consequently, the main and fundamental objective—determining
the subjects of negotiation—remains far from resolved.

Experts have more or less accepted the view that space weapons or space arms
are attack munitions that have been created and tested for striking any target,
and that operate from space objects (objects that have competed at least one
full revolution of a near-Earth orbit—for now, discussion does not address other
celestial bodies or their orbits), as well as attack munitions that have been created
and tested for striking space objects. A simpler and less-strict definition of space
weapons calls them attack munitions that are themselves orbital objects or that
are intended to destroy space objects. It was this broad interpretation of “space
strike weapons” that the Soviet Union used as the subject of legal prohibition dur-
ing the treaty negotiations of the early and mid-1980s in its campaign against the
U.S. SDI program (Table 10). In other words, space armaments were identified
either by their target location or by the location of their own deployment.

Table 10. Proposals by the USSR on the Universal Prohibition of Space-Strike Weapons (early 1970s)

Space object Object in Ground-based Air-based Sea-based
Space object Space-based Space- Space- Space-to- Space-sea
antisatellite based to-Earth air space- space-strike
system BMD space-strike strike weapons
weapons weapons
Object in Sub-orbital anti- x-ray laser Fractional
space satellite system BBM orbital missiles
Ground-based Antisatellite Ground- Intercontinen- Anti- Anti-ship
object system based tal ballistic aircraft and anti-
BMD missiles defense submarine
Air-based Antisatellite Airborne Heavy Anti- Anti-ship
object complex based BMD bombers aircraft and anti-
on F-15 aircraft defense submarine
and “air-space” weapons
Sea-based Aegis-Standard Sea-based Submarine- Anti- Anti-ship
object multifunctional BMD launched bal- aircraft and anti-
combat informa- listic missiles, defense submarine
tion and control sea-based weapons
system cruise missiles

Note: The gray text designates the types of space-strike weapons that were to be prohibited under
the Soviet proposals of the mid-1980s.

AlExEi ARbATOv 87
The most important nuance here is the clearly defined distinction between the
terms “space object” and “object in space.” The latter refers to any object that has
been either placed in space or travels through space, but that does not complete
a single full revolution in a near-Earth orbit. If this distinction had not been made,
then space weapons could have also included all intermediate-range and inter-
continental ballistic missiles and all antimissile defense systems with an intercep-
tion altitude of more than 100 kilometers. These were created by some nations a
long time ago and remain the subject of other negotiations, treaties, and proposed
agreements. However, consensus on even this point does not do much to alleviate
the complexity of the situation.

The difficulty is that there is a great range of velocities, orbital altitudes, and trajec-
tories that overlap between ballistic missiles, anti-ballistic missiles, and satellites.
For this reason, the technical specifications of attack systems and the various
weapon deployment systems (first and foremost, BMD and ASAT strike systems,
as well as BMD, ASAT, and BMEWS [Ballistic Missile Early Warning System] sup-
port systems) may allow dual application and use.

A striking example of just how vague these distinctions can be is the so-called
fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS), created by the USSR using heavy
ICBMs; it was intended to attack the United States from the southern azimuths
not covered by the radar of the missile early-warning systems, which scanned only
the directions from which missile attacks were anticipated: the north, west, and
east. This ICBM, which was designed to attack targets not by following a typical
ballistic trajectory, but by entering near-Earth orbit and making a partial orbit pass
over the Antarctic Circle before re-entering and striking its target in U.S. territory,
was prohibited by START I (Article V, Point 18). As the FOBS was not designed to
make a complete orbit of the Earth, it is not considered a space weapon from a
formal legal standpoint and would not be considered a space object upon entering
orbit. Although in this sense it could be compared to any other ICBM or SLBM,
after it enters orbit there is technically nothing to prevent this missile from com-
pleting a single revolution or even several revolutions around the Earth before re-
entering to strike its target, in which case the very same system would function as
a space object and be considered a space weapon.

In other words, the distinctions between two different weapons classes—strategic
missiles and space-to-Earth space-strike weapons—are based not on the techni-
cal differences between them, but by the extra half-hour one spends in near-Earth
orbit. START I, which expired in December 2009, banned FOBS, which deliver
nuclear weapons (or other types of WMD), but not missiles carrying conventional
warheads. For this reason, a system could theoretically be created and tested in
partial orbit around the Earth and would not fall under START I or any other exist-
ing definitions of space weapons.

A similar situation is coalescing around the U.S. Falcon system, an orbital bomber
still at the design stage that would descend from orbit to attack surface targets.

88 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE
Although this project faces serious technical and financial issues, if these could be
resolved and the system tested in partial Earth orbit, then it, too, would fall outside all
current definitions of space weapons and accordingly not be covered by any treaty.

In addition, a particular paradox arises in connection with space weapons, in that
some were created in the past and have since been either mothballed or unilater-
ally eliminated, while others are still at a fairly early stage of technical development.
On one hand, this is cause for hope that the new weapons would be banned
before being tested or deployed, after which banning would be tremendously
difficult both strategically (due to their variety and asymmetrical nature, and the
multiple roles they represent in the defensive planning of the various nations) and
in terms of verification (which will be discussed in further detail below). On the
other hand, at this very early stage of space weapon technical development, it is
exceedingly difficult to identify a subject for the prohibition or limitation negotia-
tions. Space weapons are currently defined in terms of the environment in which
they are deployed and/or the environment in which their targets are located, rather
than by their specific technical characteristics. By way of analogy, imagine the dif-
ficulty of implementing disarmament measures if the subject has been identified
as “any sea-based weapon or weapon for striking targets at sea.”

Success at previous disarmament negotiations has always come from having a
set of specifically identified (or mutually understood) technical characteristics and
mutually agreed-upon class and type definitions for these weapons systems. The
START I Treaty of 1991, up to now the greatest achievement of strategic arms
reduction and limitation efforts, describes one of the main subjects of agree-
ment as follows: “for the purpose of counting a deployed ICBM and its associated
launcher, a silo launcher of ICBMs shall be considered to contain a deployed ICBM
when excavation for that launcher has been completed and the pouring of con-
crete for the silo has been completed, or 12 months after the excavation begins,
whichever occurs earlier, and a mobile launcher of ICBMs shall be considered to
contain a deployed ICBM when it arrives at a maintenance facility … or when it
leaves an ICBM loading facility” (Article III, Paragraph 6, d).

Another document of historic importance, the Treaty on Conventional Armed
Forces in Europe, signed in 1990, defines one of the most important subjects of
agreement, the battle tank, as: “a self-propelled armored fighting vehicle capable
of heavy firepower, primarily of a high muzzle velocity direct fire main gun neces-
sary to engage armored and other targets, with high cross-country mobility, with a
high level of self-protection…. Battle tanks are tracked armored fighting vehicles
which weigh at least 16.5 metric tons unladen weight and which are armored with a
360-degree traverse gun of at least 75 millimeters caliber. In addition, any wheeled
armored fighting vehicles entering into service which meet all the other criteria
stated above shall also be deemed battle tanks” (Article II, Paragraph 1, C).

For a number of reasons, some of which are quite objective, no definitions of this
nature exist for space weapons.

AlExEi ARbATOv 89
The 2008 Russian-Chinese draft does quite clearly contain a narrower interpreta-
tion of the term “space weapons” that excludes ground-based (as well as sea-
based and air-based) systems, but covers only space-based systems, primarily
those in orbit. On one hand, this simplifies matters by sidestepping the compli-
cated issue of differentiating them from existing BMD systems (both strategic and
theater) and ICBMs and intermediate-range missiles used as antisatellite weap-
ons; on the other hand it ignores the Earth-to-space class of antisatellite system
that the USSR and the United States have already created and tested, and fails
to address what, from a military standpoint, will soon become the most attractive
antisatellite systems that are now being developed by the United States, the PRC,
and, potentially, Russia and other nations (Table 11).
Table 11. The 2008 Russian-Chinese Draft

Space object Object in Ground-based Air-based Sea-based

Space Space-based Space- Space-to-Earth Space-to-air Space-sea
object antisatellite based BMD space-strike space-strike space-strike
system weapons weapons weapons

Object in Sub-orbital anti- x-ray laser Fractional
space satellite system BBM orbital missiles

Ground- Antisatellite Ground- Intercontinen- Anti-aircraft Anti-ship
based system based BMD tal ballistic defense and anti-
object missiles submarine

Air-based Antisatellite Airborne Heavy Anti-aircraft Anti-ship
object complex based BMD bombers defense and anti-
on F-15 aircraft submarine
and “air-space” weapons

Sea-based Aegis-Standard Sea-based Submarine- Anti-aircraft Anti-ship
object multifunctional BMD launched bal- defense and anti-
combat informa- listic missiles, submarine
tion and control sea-based weapons
system cruise missiles

Note: The gray text designates the types of space-strike weapons that are subject to prohibition
under the 2008 Russian-Chinese draft treaty.

For the foreseeable future, these systems may pose the greatest threat to satel-
lites orbiting at up to 1,000 kilometers or beyond. A significant number of satellites
of various design and manned spacecraft either are being deployed or will soon
be deployed in these orbits, including satellites engaged in optical-electronic and
radio-electronic intelligence, communications, weather forecasting, and antimissile

90 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE
defense (SBIR-LOW), as well as satellites in highly elliptical orbit with perigees
that pass over the Antarctic (and which are used for communications and missile
early warning, among other things). It now also appears likely that antisatellite/
antimissile defense weapon platforms (if these do ever appear) and space-to-
Earth platforms will orbit at these same altitude ranges.

These ASAT systems, which are capable of intercepting targets at altitudes of up to
1,000 kilometers, will also to a lesser extent pose a threat to satellites in high orbit,
including geosynchronous and semi-geosynchronous orbit for communications,
missile early warning and navigation (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo). However,
these satellites could within the foreseeable future also become vulnerable to sys-
tems that either launch their ASAT from the ground, sea, or air into the appropriate
orbit for the intercept, or otherwise station themselves near their targets in advance
(“space mines”). Considering the verification difficulties of even its second version,
the 2008 draft Treaty does not appear to be a very effective mechanism. In the first
version, it would simply leave ASAT out altogether, as is also true of any potential
air-based, ground-, and sea-based laser systems that would be able to destroy or
damage satellites in high orbits with reasonable effectiveness.

Aside from these gaps, the 2008 draft PPWT is also ambiguous in its definition
of “weapons in space,” which, as noted above, this document identifies as being
“any device placed in outer space, based on any physical principle, which has been
specially produced or converted to destroy, damage or disrupt the normal func-
tioning of objects in outer space, on the Earth or in the Earth’s atmosphere, or
to eliminate a population or components of the biosphere which are important to
human existence or inflict damage on them.”

This raises the following questions: what does “specially produced or converted”
mean? How and based on which characteristics will this capability be defined?
Would this agreement prohibit a shuttle that, in addition to its other missions, also
captures, repairs, and removes satellites from orbit? Even less clear is the implica-
tion of the terms “components of the biosphere” and their “elimination” and “dam-
age.” Would this mean, for example, the damage to the ozone layer that every
space launch causes, damage from shooting down obsolescent satellites, or dam-
age from causing them to re-enter the atmosphere and sink in the ocean?

There are just as many ambiguities associated with the phrase “to destroy, dam-
age or disrupt the normal functioning of objects in outer space.” The normal func-
tioning of spacecraft can be disrupted in many different ways, depending on their
particular characteristics and the environment in which they operate. Spacecraft
can be destroyed with conventional (explosive), kinetic (direct impact), nuclear, or
laser weapons, and interference can be created using EW (Electronic Warfare)
sources or laser, beam, x-ray, or super-high-frequency weapons.

In peacetime a nation would not deliberately create interference to disrupt the
normal functioning of the spacecraft of another nation. During times of war, how-

AlExEi ARbATOv 91
ever, prohibitions against interfering with such systems as GLONASS, NAVSTAR,
or Galileo, which the enemy would utilize for its main high-precision weapons
support, could hardly be expected to hold, nor could nations at war be expected
not to try to disrupt the functioning of other orbital support systems of a military,
dual purpose, or commercial nature, or of terrestrial spacecraft control or space
information collection and relay centers. Whether the phrase “disrupt the normal
functioning” would apply to illuminating satellites from the ground or from space
by laser or radar (for example, for identification purposes) is also unclear. Theoreti-
cally, the mutual interest in preventing uncontrolled escalation of conflict should
increase the probability of agreeing not to attack the ballistic missile launch early
warning satellites of the other nation (similar to agreements existing between
some nations not to attack the other’s nuclear power plants).

However, even if the motivation for creating such systems is only to discourage
other nations from creating or using them, concluding an agreement to prohibit
them would still be extremely difficult. This is especially true as many types of
weapons are as a rule multipurpose in nature, and no international treaty or agree-
ment restricts their development, testing, deployment, or use. These would include,
for example, laser, kinetic, electromagnetic, beam, and other such weapons.

Especially difficult to prohibit are the weapons systems based on energy beam
technologies (primarily lasers), capable not only of attacking aircraft, satellites,
ballistic missiles, and their components in flight, but also of detecting, probing, and
identifying objects on the Earth’s surface, under water, or in space; targeting other
weapons systems; and, eventually, rapidly transmitting vast quantities of informa-
tion. Theoretically, laser effectiveness could be restricted. However, it would be
extremely difficult to reach agreement on this restriction, considering the diversity
of laser types and the properties of the different environments through which their
beam passes (outer space or the atmosphere). For example, a laser may lack
destructive potential in a dense atmosphere, but in outer space could turn out to
be an effective weapon against distant satellites, or be capable of striking ballistic
missile boosters from longer distance up as they depart the atmosphere or missile
warheads in space at close range.

The antisatellite effectiveness of a space-based laser is a function of its distance
from the target. However, as weapons platforms and their potential targets both
follow and can change their orbital trajectories, it would be extremely difficult to
translate the technical performance characteristics of such weapons into actual
restrictions on combat capabilities. This represents yet another practical differ-
ence from, say, nuclear arms limitation, where range is largely a function of techni-
cal characteristics and the prohibition against their extra-national basing has been
quite reliable in keeping strategic systems separate from intermediate-range and
tactical weapons in a number of agreements.

To prohibit the development, testing, or use of weapons systems designed to attack
or disrupt the functioning of the ground components of satellite information and

92 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE
control systems would be nearly impossible. After all, missions of this nature could
be carried out using almost any conventional or nuclear offensive weapon system,
radio electronic warfare technology, or systems based on new physical principles.

Many arms that are designed for other purposes may also have a secondary poten-
tial for attacking space objects, including offensive ballistic missiles of various types,
fractional orbital bombardment missiles, and manned or unmanned spacecraft.

The most complicated example of this type of overlap would be strategic BMD
systems of any basing mode that possess an inherent antisatellite potential at
orbital altitudes of up to approximately 1,000 kilometers. Aside from missiles
intercepted during the early boost or final reentry portions of the trajectory,
targets for the BMD system also pass through the very same space environ-
ment where most of the spacecraft with apogees of up to 1,000 kilometers
orbit. Satellites in these orbits move somewhat faster than missile final stages
or warheads (around 8 and 5–7 km/s, respectively), but in other respects do
present easier targets for interception.

Spacecraft as a rule are not only larger than missiles or warheads, but are also
very fragile (especially the solar panels, communications antennas, and optical
electronic sensors). Most importantly, satellites travel in predictable orbits that can
be tracked in advance, which greatly simplifies the task of targeting them. The
point of intercept of a satellite can be programmed many days or even weeks in
advance, while the flight time of ballistic missiles might range from seven to 30
minutes, depending on class, type, and trajectory configuration. Finally, unlike bal-
listic missiles, spacecraft do not present mass targets and are not accompanied
by decoys and other means of penetrating ballistic missile defenses.

There are, it is true, a number of ways to enhance the survivability of these space
systems: increasing protection of both spacecraft and ground centers from various
types of physical attack by implementing operational and engineering measures,
ensuring redundancy for the most vital spacecraft, deploying dormant reserve
satellites “on standby” in orbit, preparing delivery vehicles and satellites to quickly
replace lost satellites, and so on. However, such measures often require consider-
able outlays of resources and time.

SPECiFiCS OF vERiFiCATiOn in SPACE Verification of agreement perfor-
mance is the most important and inviolable condition for practical disarmament,
as opposed to disarmament initiatives for political or propaganda purposes. It
was only through the emergence of the national technical means of verification,
first and foremost through the use of space reconnaissance satellites, that the
first SALT I agreements could be concluded in 1972. At the same time, technical
capabilities for verification must not be seen as an absolute imperative. As mutual
trust has grown and progress continued toward more radical disarmament mea-
sures, the national technical means of verification have been complemented by

AlExEi ARbATOv 93
measures of transparency, confidence-building, and cooperation verification, as well
as onsite inspections, permanent onsite monitoring, and other measures. The 1990
CFE Treaty, the 1992 CWC, the 1994 START I, and the 19 96 CTBT were unprec-
edented in this respect, since each treaty offered more complicated monitoring and
verification measures than the previous one. The opposite also holds true: the 2002
SORT, for example, has not been fully implemented due to its lack of verification
systems and counting rules for the nuclear warheads subject to limitation.

It is entirely possible that dialectical progress could be made in space weapons dis-
armament and verification; however, it would be naïve to expect any breakthroughs
during the early stages, especially in light of the novelty and unique character of the
subject of negotiation. In most of the previous and existing disarmament treaties,
verification efforts have concentrated on the deployment and military service life
stage of the weapon systems life cycle (as with the ABM Treaty, SALT I, START
I, the INF Treaty, the CFE Treaty, and the CWC Treaty). The 1967 Treaty on Outer
Space was also at this stage (in terms of the non-deployment of WMD), but it was
unsupported by any verification measures. The verification measures contained
in these disarmament treaties also cover the testing stages of the weapons sys-
tems, but to a much lesser degree (in the CFE Treaty, they were not covered at
all.) The only exceptions are START I, which strictly controls missile tests, and the
CTBT, which focuses entirely on testing. The development stage, that is, the period
between the beginning of development of a weapons system and its testing stage,
is not addressed in any of the treaties except the CWC and the BTWC, although
the latter was never provided with a system of verification. The ABM Treaty does
prohibit “development” of several kinds of BMD systems but the parties were never
able to agree on a definition for this term, a problem that was exacerbated during
the U.S.-USSR debates over the SDI program in the early 1980s.

It is most difficult to prohibit or restrict space weapons during the deployment
stage or military service time, especially if this relates to their deployment in space,
as was the case with the 2008 draft PPWT. It would be extremely difficult to use
the national technical means of verification to identify banned armed satellites
from among the 700 or so spacecraft that are currently deployed in various orbits,
and even more difficult to prove that they fall under the subject matter of the
Treaty without inspecting them in orbit or returning them to Earth (and this with
the proviso that the treaty actually does define the prohibited technical character-
istics for these systems, rather than simply referring to their deployment environ-
ments or possible target locations).

This would also affect the future use of mini-satellites to inspect spacecraft in
any orbit. To perform such onsite inspections in space or return a satellite to
Earth is frequently technically impossible, dangerous, and, most likely, unac-
ceptable to nations in light of the classified nature of their military and com-
mercial programs. In addition, the development of such verification systems
and methods in and of itself might be seen as creating a kind of antisatellite
weapon or as a military operation.

94 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE
Considerations of military and commercial secrecy also reduce the likelihood that
nations might in the foreseeable future implement mutual pre-launch verification
procedures at launch facilities, an issue that was addressed in the late 1980s, when
the U.S.-USSR negotiations on space weapons touched upon the prohibition of
space-based BMD systems. However, it was recognized at the time that such
onsite verification methods were too intrusive and difficult to implement in prac-
tice. In time, as disarmament measures become more radical and nations begin to
step back from military confrontation, such pre-launch inspection methods might
become a way to verify the non-weaponization of space, but for now they appear
unrealistic, particularly in respect to the 2008 Russian-Chinese draft.

The picture is also ambiguous with respect to ground-, air-, and sea-based space
weapons, which are the most likely to appear in the foreseeable future (but which
are not addressed by the Russian-Chinese draft). It would not actually be that
difficult to prohibit or limit systems such as those deployed by the Soviet Union
in the 1970s and 1980s (and missiles like the one experimentally tested by China
in 2007), if an agreement can be reached on their technical characteristics and
deployment locations using methods borrowed from the INF Treaty and START I.

However, verification for such airborne systems as the F-15 SRAM-Altair deployed
by the United States in the 1980s or the ASAT system developed by the Soviets
for basing on MiG-31 interceptor jets would be extremely difficult to implement, as
both jets are considered dual-purpose systems and serve in the air forces of the
two nations in large numbers. In addition, the interceptor missiles of these systems
are small enough that they can be stored at any military airfield storage facility.
Special guidance and navigation systems for these ASATs naturally exist, but to
prohibit them would intrude into the overall ground-based infrastructure of the
space command-control systems—an unrealistic prospect. More attainable would
be numerical limitations for such systems, although this would require extensive
transparency and agreement on functional distinctions among aircraft and missile
types, measures to enhance verification, and individual sites allowed for ASAT
deployment, possibly including the right of the parties to conduct onsite inspection
of the air force bases of the other side on short notice, should suspicions arise.

To prohibit or restrict the deployment of airborne laser systems currently under
development, or sea-based missile systems currently being upgraded, would be
extremely difficult due to their differing technical characteristics and dual use
capabilities as antimissile and antisatellite weapon systems (Table 12).

AlExEi ARbATOv 95
Table 12. Ability to Verify Space Weapons at Various Stages of Their Service Life


Kinetic impact systems:

Space object 1 3 1 1

Object in space 1 3 2 3

Ground-based 1 3 2 3

Air-based 1 3 2 2

Sea-based 1 3 2 2

Directed-energy 1 3 1 1

Note: 1 – impossible to verify; 2 – limited verification possible; 3 verifiable

Thus, the most important distinction between space weapons, especially those
based in orbit, and all other types of arms that have previously been the subject
of disarmament agreements, is that they are extremely difficult (if not impossible)
either to prohibit or to restrict once they have been deployed. At the same time, the
fact that space weapons have very specific points of deployment and target loca-
tions allows their development to be tangibly limited by restricting full-scale tests.

PROSPECTS FOR limiTing And PROhibiTing SPACE ARmS Until
now, the absence of goodwill among nations, particularly on the part of the United
States, the most advanced of all the space powers, has precluded holding even
preliminary practical negotiations on this problem, with all proposals relating to the
non-militarization and non-weaponization of space relegated to the role of political
and propagandistic démarche rather than true disarmament initiatives. This is also
largely true of the Russian-Chinese 2008 draft PPWT.

However, should the U.S. position change and the goodwill of other nations con-
tinue, such negotiations might become a practical undertaking for nations seeking
to resuscitate the entire system and process of disarmament. Should the Obama
administration initiate a review of U.S. military space policy, then a “window of
opportunity” might open to hold practical negotiations, in which case (considering
past experience with previously proposed initiatives) a totally new approach will
be needed to defining the subject, format, and methods for legally regulating the
military/strategic relations between the space-capable powers in this field today
and in the future.

96 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE
In finding an approach to the subject of these negotiations, it would be advisable,
at least for the initial stage, to discard the positions that the USSR had held in
the 1980s and that were reflected in the recent Russian and Chinese proposal
in Geneva. Specifically, the subject of negotiations should be narrowed and, in
contrast to 20 years ago, efforts should not be directed at instituting a sweeping
prohibition of all Earth-to-space, space-to-Earth, and space-to-space systems, the
technical properties of which remain vague, as does the potential for verification
of the agreement.

Noble-sounding appeals to prevent the militarization of space will hardly be
adequate grounds for future talks. It should be remembered that it was not the
peaceful aspirations of the powers that served as the practical foundation for
the strategic arms treaties; rather, it was the asymmetry of the military balance
between parties. SALT I, for example, only became possible because the United
States had an interest in halting the buildup of Soviet ballistic missiles, while the
USSR had an interest in limiting BMD systems. The basis for SALT II was a U.S.
interest in limiting Soviet multiple-warhead missiles and a corresponding Soviet
desire to restrict U.S. cruise missiles. START I embodied a compromise between
reducing heavy ICBMs and limiting mobile land-based Soviet missiles on the one
hand, and reducing or limiting the superior U.S. strategic sea-based and air-based
forces on the other.

By the same logic, an obvious way to balance the practical interests of the parties
in space would be to include a prohibition or strict limitation of antisatellite systems
in exchange for limitations on the development of space-based BMD systems
(meaning strike systems, or interceptors, based in space). The former would be
of benefit to the United States, the latter of benefit to Russia and the PRC. Under
such a format, the treaty would use the technological overlap between BMD and
ASAT (which complicates the prohibition of one without prohibiting the other) to
advance measures that would either limit or prohibit them together (Table 13).

table 13. The Reduction and Prohibition of Antisatellite and Space-Based BMD Systems

lAuncher tArget locAtion
Space object Object in Ground-based Air-based Sea-based
Space object Space-based Space- Space-to-Earth Space-to-air Space-sea
antisatellite based BMD space-strike space-strike space-strike
system weapons weapons weapons
Object in Sub-orbital X-ray laser Fractional — —
space antisatellite BBM orbital missiles
Ground-based Antisatellite Ground- Intercontinen- Anti-aircraft Anti-ship
object system based BMD tal ballistic defense and anti-
missiles submarine

Alexei ArbAtov 97
Air-based Antisatellite Airborne Heavy Anti-aircraft Anti-ship
object complex BMD bombers defense and anti-
based on F-15 submarine
aircraft and weapons
Sea-based Aegis- Sea-based Submarine- Anti-aircraft Anti-ship
object Standard BMD launched bal- defense and anti-
multifunc- listic missiles, submarine
tional combat sea-based weapons
information cruise missiles
and control

Note: The gray text designates the types of space-strike weapons that would be covered by a
restriction (imposed through the prohibition of testing them against real targets in space) proposed
by the authors of this monograph.

The ability to clearly define the subject of the agreement and to develop realistic
and reliable transparency and verification measures is crucial to the success of
any practical negotiations. It is also important to determine the proper sequence
for the stages of negotiation. Today, antisatellite defenses are the most advanced,
while space-based BMD systems, the prospects for which remain rather vague,
might become a subject for agreement in the more distant future (ten to fifteen
years). Still more is this true of space-to-Earth systems. Considering the differ-
ent interpretations of the subjects of negotiation, a single agreement could hardly
be possible. It would be useful for Moscow and Washington to remember their
experiences in the 1970s and 1980s, and to consider the various initiatives being
advanced by independent experts from various countries.

The preferred goal would be to prohibit all ASAT deployment regardless of basing
mode, but this would be difficult to achieve. As noted above, ASAT prohibition
cannot be verified in outer space through realistically achievable methods, and
it is likely that only China has experimental systems on Earth (which may explain
why the 2008 joint Russian-Chinese draft referred only to space systems). Russia
and the United States have either mothballed or withdrawn their old systems; new
ones are either under development or are dual-use systems.

Instead of prohibiting deployment, the parties could resolve this problem indi-
rectly by initially agreeing to prohibit testing of antisatellite and space-strike
BMD systems, focusing on tests involving the actual destruction of either
target satellites or ballistic missiles and their elements at flight trajectories—
the kind of tests conducted by the USSR between 1960 and the 1980s, by the
United States in 1980, and by China in 2007. Verification of this agreement
could be based on the NTMV of the respective parties, preferably in conjunc-
tion with cooperative measures and well-defined transparency. For example,

98 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE
the existing format for notifying other parties of all missile launches should
be confirmed and expanded to further include all actions or experiments that
have a destructive effect on objects in space.

The elimination of obsolescent satellites that threaten to fall to Earth should be
conducted under the supervision of the other party or parties, with sufficient infor-
mation presented so as to remove all suspicion of secret ASAT experiments of
the type the United States conducted in 2008 when it intercepted a satellite. The
approach speeds should be regulated for peacetime satellite docking operations
conducted only upon notification of and supervision by the other party or parties.

The initial treaty could be limited to ten years, with the option of extending. This
would be less than the amount of time expected for the initial deployment of
technically feasible space-based BMD systems. Similar to any other such treaty,
it should also contain an article on the right of the parties to withdraw from the
treaty should an extraordinary event jeopardize the “supreme interests” of either
party. Russia (and the PRC, should it agree) could issue a unilateral statement
saying that the creation of either a space-based BMD system or a space-to-Earth
system by the United States would constitute one such extraordinary event. This
would serve as an additional deterrent to the United States, considering its inter-
est in the greatest possible limitation of ASAT, if it could be reliably verified.

This treaty could initially include the United States, Russia, and, preferably, the PRC,
but also provide the potential of membership for any other country in the future.
A permanent joint commission should be created (potentially combined with the
existent Joint Data Exchange Center) for verification and dispute resolution.

The advantages of such a treaty include:

• the prevention of the development and improvement of the most advanced
class of space arms—antisatellite weapons—regardless of the physical prin-
ciples involved and their basing mode;
• relative ease of verification, with emphasis on NTMV in conjunction with mini-
mal transparency and cooperative measures;
• retarding the development of space-based BMD systems, particularly their
strike components;
• the prevention of experiments that result in “space junk” that threatens the
spacecraft of all nations;
• its early inclusion of the PRC (and, thereafter, other powers) in the new stage of
the strategic weapons limitation process; and
• retarding the development of ASAT systems capable of attacking vital early
warning, navigation, communication, and monitoring satellites.

AlExEi ARbATOv 99
The proposed treaty is not without shortcomings, some fairly substantial, including:

• nations may still conduct indirect testing and deploy antisatellite systems during
the testing and deployment of other, non–space-based BMD systems;
• nations may still maintain their antisatellite potential (without tests on targets),
using ICBMs, SLBMs, fractional orbital missiles (after the expiration of START I),
and IRBMs (for China), with a guaranteed ability to destroy satellites by nuclear
detonation (disabling all spacecraft within range, including that nation’s own);
• nations may still secretly deploy “space mines” in times of peace or a prewar
period, primarily in geostationary orbits, without their prior testing for the guar-
anteed capability to destroy satellites;
• nations may still secretly rehearse low-intensity antisatellite operations using
manned and unmanned satellites to approach, capture, and remove spacecraft
that have outlived their service time or require repairs;
• nations may still secretly test directed-energy (laser or beam) weapons and
radio-electronic devices intended to disrupt satellite operations without physi-
cally destroying them;
• nations may still create space-to-Earth class strike weapons, including those
based on the use of fractional orbital missiles, shuttle spacecraft, and other
still-hypothetical technologies;
• nations are unable to engage in the development of antisatellite capabilities to
asymmetrically respond to the development of new systems for conventional
military operations, including the use of long-range, high-precision weapons,
backed by space information systems; and
• nations are unable to directly counteract hypothetical space-to-Earth class sys-
tems, should they ever appear.
In recognizing these problems, it should nonetheless be emphasized that the
advantages of the proposed option appear to outweigh its shortcomings; further-
more, this option appears to be relatively achievable as a practical first step in
preventing the militarization of space, in light of its mutual strategic acceptability to
the parties, the tangibility of the technical and military parameters of the subject
matter, and the verifiability of compliance by the parties.

Due to military, political, and technical constraints (including the specific
nature of the space environment), the proposed treaty must be partial
and selective, as were the 1972 Interim SALT I Agreement and SALT II in
1979. However, had they failed first to pass through those natural stages
of disarmament, the parties would never have achieved the unprecedented
across-the-board reductions, restrictions, and transparency measures that
START I implemented 20 years later. If a first step, however small, can be
made toward space non-weaponization, including verifiable prohibition of
any testing of ASAT or space BMD systems, it could be followed by other

100 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE
broader and more intrusive verification measures, as was the case with the
limitation of strategic nuclear arms.

An ability to develop antisatellite potential indirectly through related military tech-
nologies, as with space-based BMD systems, will not provide the self-confidence
needed for a real armed conflict, especially if instead of a demonstrative act the
aggressor launches a fast and coordinated attack on its target’s entire orbital con-
stellation, leading to fundamental and irreparable degradation of its overall military
potential. The same principle applies to working out details of the interception of
ballistic missiles by space-based BMD systems, which are being rehearsed with-
out orbital deployment or testing of weapon platforms; such tests could never pro-
vide a nation with confidence in its ability to destroy many missiles and warheads
in flight. Without full-scale testing, responsible powers will hardly be likely to take
the step of deploying such expensive weapon systems, which would be pivotal for
military planning. Moreover, asymmetrical countermeasures to the future space-
based BMD systems under discussion here can be executed by other means.

The deepening global financial and economic crisis cast doubt on the prospects
for an expensive and intricately complex strategic BMD system, especially its
space-based version. This applies still more to space-to-Earth systems.

The issue of antisatellite systems being used to help repel a so-called aerospace
attack is also extremely complex. The threat to Russia itself and the proposed
means to combat it both appear quite far-fetched.8 One way or another, there
would be other ways to minimize such threats, such as legal agreements or coun-
termeasures instead of getting dragged into an expensive arms race, the outcome
of which would be uncertain. Nations could rely instead on other military counter-
measures, other disarmament treaties, and efforts to alter the military and politi-
cal environment as a whole (including a decision by NATO not to expand further
east, the conclusion of conventional long-range, high-precision arms limitation
agreements, and the peaceful settlement of the problem of Taiwan). As for space-
to-Earth strike systems, these should be considered a topic of the more distant
future; their prospects and characteristics are still unclear, and negotiations on
their prohibition can therefore be postponed.

Finally, the main argument in favor of the proposed treaty is the absence of any
realistic alternatives to prohibiting ASAT and space-based BMD by prohibiting
their full-scale testing. It appears that this would not be implementable under
prior proposals by the USSR, and would be unlikely to succeed under the 2008
Russian-Chinese draft. In reality, the only alternative is that there will be no legal
restrictions on the weaponization of outer space, which will gradually be trans-
formed into an arena for arms races and, potentially, armed conflicts.

AlExEi ARbATOv 101

1 See N. Gallagher and J. Steinbruner, Reconsidering the Rules for Space Security (American
Academy of Arts and Sciences, [S.I.] 2008).
2 See E. Myasnikov, “Kontrsilovoi potentsial vysokotochnogo oruzhiya” [The Countervail-
ing Potential of High-Precision Weapons], in Nuclear Proliferation: New Technologies,
Weapons and Treaties, A. Arbatov and V. Dvorkin, eds. (Moscow: Carnegie Moscow Center/
ROSSPEN, 2009) 109–118.
3 S. Sukhanov, V. Grinko, and V. Smirnov, “Kosmos v voprosakh vooruzhyonnoi borby” [Outer
Space and Armed Struggle], Nats. oborona, no. 7 (28), July 2008, 28–42.
4 V. Dvorkin, “Chto takoye vozdushno-kosmicheskaya oborona?” [What Is Aerospace
Defense?], Nezavisimoye voyen. Obozreniye, March 3, 2007.
5 S. Sukhanov, V. Grinko and V. Smirnov, “Kosmos v voprosakh vooruzhyonnoi borby” [Outer
Space and Armed Struggle], 42.
6 See G. Zhukov, “Russian-Chinese Initiative for the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons
in Outer Space,” Russia: Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security: IMEMO
Supplement to the Russian Edition of the SIPRI Yearbook 2008, compiled and edited by A.
Kaliadine and A. Arbatov (Moscow, 2009), 40–54.
7 The group includes nonaligned and neutral nations of various political leanings.
8 V. Dvorkin, “Chto takoye vozdushno-kosmicheskaya oborona?” [What Is Aerospace
Defense?], 4.

102 PREvEnTing An ARmS R ACE in SPACE

Humans have spent over a century mastering aviation and millennia securing the
land and seas. But they have had access to outer space for only half a century,
making it the newest arena for human endeavor. With physical properties that dif-
fer qualitatively from those of traditional human environments, space will prove the
most difficult to develop, and by extension the most difficult to regulate.

Thus far, applying traditional approaches to newly created instruments of war or
rules on disarmament and non-use of force to outer space has produced meager
results. By virtue of its novelty and unique characteristics as a field of military
activity, strategic and political space research remains an area of interest for a
relatively narrow group of experts and pales in comparison to the major intellectual
schools and historical studies devoted to the art of war on land, or the use of naval
and air power in foreign and military policies.

Space is a unique physical environment that with the advent of the age of global-
ization in international economics, politics, and the technological military devel-
opment of nations creates a demand for a professionally honest and objective
analysis of military/space issues, free from the gloss of propaganda campaigns
or lobbying efforts by agencies, corporations, or pressure groups. It is precisely
such a scientific analysis that this book aims to provide. A study of the problems
involved in preventing the militarization of outer space, based on previous attempts
to create a viable international legal framework and of both past and present
space weapons programs, yields several conclusions and recommendations.

AlExEi ARbATOv And vlAdimiR dvORkin 103
FiRST The unique characteristics of outer space as a physical environment are of
prime consideration in identifying both the opportunities and the limits that must
be overcome for its use. As the Earth rotates on its axis as a spacecraft orbits it,
the spacecraft is unable to linger over a single location on the ground (unless it is
in geostationary orbit). This in turn means that a spacecraft’s ability to remain in
contact with the ground is restricted, which is of particular importance for deliver-
ing strikes in both directions. The enormous energy requirements and high costs
of placing a single payload into orbit impose strict weight constraints as well. As
they move in orbits that are both predictable and accessible to radio-electronic
and optical tracking beyond the protection of the Earth’s atmosphere, spacecraft
are inherently vulnerable.

Ultimately, these features and others have ensured that, despite the intensive
military, commercial, and scientific development of outer space over the past half
century, it has still not been transformed into a new arena for armed conflict. It
is far more costly to develop and use weapons in military operations in and from
space than forces and weapons deployed on land, at sea, or in the air. In spite of
predictions in the 1950s and 1960s, weapon-carrying battle platforms have not yet
been deployed in orbit; nor were the hopes and fears surrounding the U.S. SDI
program of the 1980s realized, although this program did initiate progress along a
broad front of military and technological development. For all of their significance,
the sweeping military space programs and their related strategic concepts that
the United States ambitiously developed during this decade have still not resulted
in the deployment of weapons for military operations in and from space.

SECOnd Since the end of the 1950s, outer space development has progressed
at an exceptionally rapid pace, primarily due to the intense rivalry between the
USSR and the United States over the military use of outer space, and to the enor-
mous role that space achievements quickly acquired as a source of national pres-
tige. The two powers had alternating success within the framework of this rivalry,
and were eventually joined by other nations: France, Britain, Canada, Germany,
Italy, and Japan, followed by India, China, Brazil, and others.

The development of astronautical engineering has provided a powerful impetus
to the progress of science and technology, and found broad application in the
socioeconomic, commercial, information, and environmental fields. Without space
systems, modern achievements in telecommunications, navigation, meteorology,
remote Earth sensing, and cosmic and earth sciences would all be inconceivable.
The dual nature of space development between its use for peaceful and military
ends entails both collaboration and rivalry between the space powers.

As the last century came to a close, the transition to new-generation space sys-
tems with substantially longer active service lives and more advanced onboard
equipment and systems for delivering collected data initiated a dramatic expan-
sion in the use of space capabilities to pursue military objectives. Space systems
initially found their broadest practical application in new types of wars that relied

104 COnClUSiOn
on space control and information support systems for conducting massive long-
range, high-precision weapons attacks. Beginning with the Desert Storm cam-
paign of 1991, these new methods and capabilities were then demonstrated at
increasing scale in military operations in Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001,
and Iraq in 2003.

The space-based information capabilities of the future will develop in two inter-
related directions. The first will be to create highly survivable and rapidly deployable
space systems that rely on light spacecraft and boosters with significantly miniatur-
ized electronics; the second will involve transmitting satellite information down to
the lowest possible level of the command chain, eventually to the individual soldier.

The increasingly military role of outer space and scientific and technological
progress makes space an ever more attractive environment both for developing
weapons systems in space and for using force in and from space. This new phase
in the militarization (or, to be more precise, weaponization) of space may become
the greatest threat to the peaceful use of this environment and the development of
international cooperation in space.

third The militarization of space through deployment in orbit of military and
dual-use satellites has already been under way for half a century. The weapons
themselves (in other words, the attack components) appeared in space much
earlier, with the launches of the first ballistic missiles, which had flight paths that
transited space. Until 1963, nuclear weapons were also tested in space. Although
weapons have been tested in orbit, they have never actually been deployed as
permanent objects in space.

The United States and the Soviet Union commenced work on space weapons
as early as the first half of the 1960s. In terms of actual implementation, work
in the 1960s–1980s was confined to running a few series of experiments in
space and commissioning a few antisatellite systems in limited numbers and for
relatively short-term service.

For a broad spectrum of space weaponry projects in the early 1980s, such work
was accelerated after the launch of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative and the
corresponding Soviet response. While the United States emphasized targeting
Soviet nuclear deterrence forces with its space-, land-, air-, and sea-based anti-
missile systems using kinetic or laser attack components, the Soviet asymmetrical
response focused on space-based and other antisatellite systems, BMD coun-
termeasures involving offensive strategic arms, and the development of its own
ground-based BMD systems.

This phase of space weapons development began to deescalate in the 1990s with
the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR. Although Russia scaled back
most of its work at various stages of research and development, U.S. space weap-
ons programs began to expand once again at the beginning of this decade when
SDI was revived at a new level and widened—this time to focus on the missile threat

Alexei ArbAtov And vlAdimir dvorkin 105
from so-called “rogue” nations (and, implicitly, China). Russia still retains its potential
to develop and deploy space weapons, which remain at various stages of develop-
ment today as a fallback for symmetrical and asymmetrical countermeasures.

In 2008, the onset of an unprecedented financial and economic crisis and the
change of administration in Washington have again delayed implementation of
these ambitious American ideas. This does not mean, however, that the problem is
simply going to resolve itself. Outer space will play a growing part in human activ-
ity as technological progress improves the capacity to create a variety of space
weapons. The present situation provides additional time to advance initiatives on
limiting some of the more destabilizing military space programs.

As the experience of the past decade has shown, Washington is not inclined to
participate in disarmament negotiations based on good intentions alone. Only its
strategic interests in prohibiting or limiting opposing weapons systems will moti-
vate the United States to engage in serious talks and accept limitations on its
own weapons in exchange. The existence of military space programs in Russia
(and China) could be an incentive to begin serious negotiations in this area. At
the same time, if the development of weapons should proceed beyond a certain
threshold, the arms race might become irreversible, especially given the variety of
space weapons and the difficulty of their limitation and verification.

Fourth The rapid development of military space technology over the past half-
century was paralleled by an accumulation of a considerable amount of nego-
tiating experience and a body of legal documents for dealing with this problem.
Its foundation rests on the 1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the 1967
Treaty on Outer Space. While it was still valid (1972–2002), the ABM Treaty played
an important part in banning the development, testing, and deployment of anti-
ballistic missile systems and their space-based elements.

It should be remembered that the 1963 Treaty was signed at a time when both
parties had an interest in halting nuclear tests in space that led to damage of
their global radio-electronic systems. The same common interest served as the
foundation for the 1967 Treaty prohibiting the deployment of nuclear weapons in
space. The weapons had questionable military usefulness, but the possibility of
loss of control over them or of malfunction or catastrophe leading to unpredict-
able consequences posed an obvious and significant threat. That treaty avoided
any detailed definitions of the subject matter, the methodology of prohibition, or
measures of verification.

However, subsequent efforts to apply the same all-encompassing approach to the
development of various non-nuclear space weapons that promise significant military
advantages while avoiding the enormous costs and risks have been unsuccessful.

As the experience of the 1978–1979 U.S.-Soviet dialogue on antisatellite weap-
ons systems showed, it was pointless to try to find a simple solution to the

106 conclusion
problem because of the deep technical asymmetry between the weapons sys-
tems under discussion. Efforts by the Soviet Union to selectively prohibit or
allow certain antisatellite capabilities or actions, and by the United States to
use the negotiations as cover to buy time to complete testing of its own system,
also did not facilitate an agreement.

Subsequent Soviet initiatives at international forums that proposed prohibiting the
placement of “any types of weapons” in space, preventing “space-strike weapons,”
and prohibiting the use of force in and from space against the Earth were unsuc-
cessful. They had not actually been intended to reach an agreement but to put up
political resistance and spread propaganda against the U.S. SDI program.

More fruitful was the experience of the space group that attended the nuclear and
space weapons negotiations. In 1983–1984, Moscow sought to curtail the freedom
the United States enjoyed in working on space-based BMD system components.
The so-called package proposal that the Soviet side offered at the 1986 Reykjavik
Summit provided that the USSR and the United States would mutually forgo the
development, testing, and deployment of antimissile and antisatellite systems, as
well as other space-based capabilities using traditional or other physical principles
to attack targets in space, in the atmosphere, or on the ground. The Soviet Union
declared its willingness to establish very strict verification procedures, including
opening its laboratories to inspection. In propaganda terms, this created quite a
few difficulties for Washington, especially in light of the increasing opposition to
SDI both within the United States and among its NATO allies.

The work of the defense and space group in Geneva helped to clarify the meaning
of a number of crucial terms and review the procedures for onsite inspection and
data exchange relating to research, development, testing, deployment, and mod-
ernization of BMD systems and components by the two sides. This old regulatory
legal framework could prove useful during future negotiations, if they take place.

The experience of previous negotiations on nuclear and space weapons also indi-
cates that if one side maintains complete secrecy about its military technical pro-
grams while trying to use negotiations for its own political and propaganda ends,
the diplomatic process will inevitably result in deadlock. The opportunity to achieve
mutually advantageous concessions will thus be lost.

FiFTh Attempts in recent years at the international level to put legal provisions in
place to establish barriers to an arms race in space have been unsuccessful. The
enormous complexity and multifaceted nature of the problem, compounded by
the United States’ negative posture, has proven too great for this sweeping, one-
off approach. The same is also true of the Russian–Chinese draft Treaty submit-
ted to the Geneva Conference on Disarmament in the spring of 2008, which was
modeled on the 1967 Treaty on Outer Space by expanding its prohibition of WMD
to include “any weapons.”

AlExEi ARbATOv And vlAdimiR dvORkin 107
The resulting deadlock has compelled the international expert community to seek
alternative solutions. One of these ideas involved efforts to reach agreement on
a code of conduct in outer space that would be less formal than a treaty. This
idea was based on the existing (though imperfect) International Code of Conduct
against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, adopted in November 2002 in The Hague.
These new draft proposals include the Model Code of Conduct for Responsible
Space-Faring Nations, released by the Stimson Center, and the draft Framework
of Space Security, drawn up by the Eisenhower Institute. At the official interna-
tional level, these efforts include the Council of the European Union’s draft Code
of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

Such initiatives stem from the idea that reaching agreement on the principles of a
code of conduct would not only introduce the necessary voluntary restrictions but
also expand agreement over the fundamental principles of outer space being used
solely for peaceful or military support purposes. While progress on legally binding
treaties has stalled, interim solutions could include using codes that are politically
binding without being weighed down by complex definitions, record-keeping and
counting rules, and methods of verification data exchange.

However, even this approach has its problems. Commitment to a code as a com-
pilation of declarations of intent means much more in democratic nations, where
military programs and financing are transparent, and where military agencies and
the military-industrial complexes are monitored by independent parliaments and
civil society groups. If democratic countries fail to abide by the codes, they must
do so openly, with all of the ensuing political consequences (as in the case of the
United States with The Hague Code).

The heads of authoritarian nations, meanwhile, can sign any codes they want and
remain free to breach them for as long as the violations remain hidden from the world
community. Even then, compelling evidence of such violations could be confirmed or
refuted only if there are precise definitions for what is subject to these bans, restric-
tions, and verification. These attributes are inherent in legally binding treaties that
strictly regulate the conduct of all parties regardless of their system of government.

The greatest potential contribution of such a code of conduct in space would be to
create the political conditions needed for negotiations on full-fledged and legally
binding treaties to ban or limit space weapons. The international expert community
also applied political pressure during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign when
Barack Obama backed a code of conduct that included a global ban on the use of
weapons against satellites and prohibited antisatellite weapons tests.

SixTh An analysis of the half century of development of military and techni-
cal space systems and the principles of their use as well as the experience of
talks and agreements makes it possible to tentatively identify two main models
for the legal regulation of space activity. One model is based on the 1967 Treaty
on Outer Space and includes comprehensive bans on certain types of weapons

108 COnClUSiOn
and activities, without going into technical details of definitions of the subject of
the agreement, verification, data exchange, provisions on exceptions to the rules,
and accepted understandings. The other model that also closely relates to space
issues is based on the ABM, SALT I, INF, and START I treaties, and includes
detailed agreements on all issues, as well as a gradual progression in disarma-
ment and verification measures, ranging from partial steps to measures increas-
ingly broad and deep in scope.

Soviet proposals at multilateral forums and bilateral talks with the United States
in the 1980s as well as Russian initiatives from this decade (including joint initia-
tives with other countries) have been based on the first model. Set against Wash-
ington’s unconstructive policy, these diplomatic initiatives brought Moscow some
political and propaganda dividends but did not lead to concrete results in the form
of legally binding treaties.

To achieve results in this area, the United States must transition from the first
model to the second, taking into account the immense complexity and many fac-
ets of the issues, the differing stages of development of the various technical
programs and projects, the technological overlap between the various types of
systems, and the difficulties involved in defining the subject matter and verifica-
tion measures for the treaties, as well as the great asymmetry in the geostrategic
situations and military policies of the parties. The practical basis for the treaties
on strategic arms was not to peacefully resolve issues but to balance the military
interests of the parties.

By the same logic, the practical interests of the parties in space could be easily
balanced by prohibiting or greatly restricting antisatellite weapons in exchange for a
refusal to develop space BMD systems in other words, space-based strike systems
(interceptors). The former would serve the interests of the United States, and the
latter would serve the interests of Russia and the PRC. Using this treaty format, the
technological overlap of BMD and ASAT systems that complicates the prohibition of
one without the other would encourage measures that either limit or prohibit both.

The ability to agree on definitions of the subject of the treaties and to draw up
realistic and reliable verification and transparency measures will be extremely
important for any practical negotiations to succeed. Rather than simply prohib-
iting deployment, an indirect solution to the problem might be to reach a pre-
liminary agreement to prohibit testing of antisatellite systems and space-based
missile defense systems capable of destroying a targeted satellite or ballistic
missile and its components in flight. Compliance could be verified by using the
national technical means of verification of the parties, preferably combined with
measures of cooperation and transparency. The initial treaty could be in effect
for a limited period (ten years, with the possibility of an extension); its first
phase could include the United States, Russia, and China, after which it could
be extended to include other nations.

Alexei ArbAtov And vlAdimir dvorkin 109
Military and political considerations as well as technical and physical circum-
stances demand that the treaty option proposed above be partial and selective,
as was true of the 1972 SALT I Interim Agreement and the 1979 SALT II Treaty.
Had they failed to pass through these natural phases of disarmament, the par-
ties would have never attained the unprecedented across-the-board reductions,
restrictions, and transparency measures that the INF Treaty and START I imple-
mented 20 years later.

SEvEnTh Although the United States possesses economic and technical supe-
riority in space at the moment, should an arms race ever begin, it would inevitably
involve other countries, beginning with China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Japan, later
joined by Iran, Pakistan, and others. The United States would also have the most to
lose, as it is the country that relies most on the security of satellite support systems
for its military and civilian activities. This is what happened with nuclear weapons
and missile technology. While the United States enjoyed an initial monopoly or
superiority, it now sees their proliferation as the greatest threat to its security.

In the long term, the growing threat of a space arms race, and especially of space
conflicts, will inevitably lead to vertical and horizontal nuclear and missile prolif-
eration, as well as an irreversible crisis for the entire nuclear disarmament and
nonproliferation regime. Furthermore, if outer space, without national borders or
natural shelters, were to become filled with weapons, the greatest danger would
come from accidents, false alarms, and command system malfunctions.

In this era of globalization, the world is experiencing new security problems that
cannot be resolved unilaterally, especially through the use of military force. There
is an urgent need for cooperation among the major powers and all responsible
countries to resolve these issues as they seek to combat the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction, prevent international terrorism, carry out multilateral
peacekeeping operations, verify compliance at major stages of the disarmament
process, implement effective measures to address climate change and environ-
mental issues, and take action to ensure energy and food security.

The same dynamic demands urgent work in drafting international agreements to
prevent the militarization of outer space. As Napoleon once said, “Politics is just
common sense applied to important matters.” A first step on this road would be the
rapid approval of a code of conduct for nations’ activities in space; the next step
could well be to begin work on legally binding treaties to guarantee that space will
be used only in the interests of peace and common security.

110 COnClUSiOn

A of China, 6, 40, 43–44, 85, 90–91
ABM Treaty (1972) disarmament proposals and, 90–91
definitions in, 94 non-weaponization and, 52–54
legacy of, 106 of U.S., 34–37, 43–45, 52–54
as model for future treaties, 109 of USSR/Russia, 32, 43–44, 52–54, 85, 90–91
negotiations and, 57–65 A-1 spacecraft, 19
scope of, 51–52 Apollo-11, 19
U.S. withdrawal from, 72, 79, 82–83 Apollo-Soyuz project, 19
Washington summit on, 58 Ariane launch vehicles, 9, 19
“absence factor,” 11 Ariel-1, 19
AEGIS Mk7 anti-satellite system, 37 arms race, prevention of, 79–101. See also non-
AES. See artificial earth satellites (AES) weaponization
Agreement Governing the Activities of States on collapse of nuclear disarmament system, 80–81
the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1979), 51 disarmament proposals, 96–101
agreements globalization and, 110
altitude, 79–86 negotiations and, 86–93
future trends, 109–110 universal agreement proposals, 79–86
non-weaponization, 49, 50–52 verification and, 93–96
verification and, 93–96 Armstrong, Neil, 19
Air Force, U.S. artificial earth satellites (AES), 18, 19, 21
Air Force Space Command, 25 ASAT. See anti-satellite systems (ASAT)
autonomous micro-spacecraft, 39 astronautical engineering, 104
SMV development and, 37–38 Atlas launch vehicle, 19
AirLaunch program (Boeing), 37–38 atmosphere
Aldrin, Edwin (“Buzz”), 19 boundary of, 3
Alouette-1, 19 pollution of, 22
altitude, 6 autonomous micro-spacecraft, 39
antennas, large area, 39 Autonomous Nanosatellite Guardian for Evaluating
anti-missile defense systems, 31–32 Local Space (ANGELS) program, 39
antisatellite systems (ASAT)

indEx 111
b Conference on Disarmament from the German
Baikonur Space Center Democratic Republic and Mongolia, 55–56
early space activity, 17–18 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty
launch requirements and, 9 (1999), 59–60
ballistic missile defense (BMD), 12. See also BMD Convention on the Prohibition of the Development,
systems Production, Stockpiling and Use
BMD systems of Chemical Weapons and on their
Cold War era buildup, 33–34 Destruction (CWC), 86, 94
partnership approach to, 42–44 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development,
Rumsfeld Commission recommendations on, 41 Production and Stockpiling of
SBLs and, 36–37 Bacteriological [Biological] and Toxin
space-based, 33, 43–44, 49, 51–52, 54, 57, 60, Weapons and on their Destruction
87, 90, 95, 97–98 (BTWC), 86, 94
Boeing Company, 37–38 cosmos, defined, 3
Braun, Wernher von, 18–19 costs, of spacecraft, 11–12, 27
Britain, xxi Council of the European Union, 75, 108
Britain, early space activity, 19, 23 covertness, 11
BTWC. See Convention on the Prohibition CWC. See Convention on the Prohibition of the
of the Development, Production Development, Production, Stockpiling
and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Use of Chemical Weapons and on
[Biological] and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC)
their Destruction (BTWC)
Buchheim, Robert, 52 d
Bulava missile system, 34 debris. See space debris
Bush, George H. W., 64 Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the
Bush, George W., 41, 44, 69 Activities of States in the Exploration
and Use of Outer Space (1963), 50
C Declaration on the Establishment of a Joint Center
Canada, early space activity, 19, 23 for the Exchange of Data from Early
carrier rockets, 28 Warning Systems and Notifications of
Carter, Jimmy, 52 Missile Launches (2002), 71
Center for Defense Information, U.S., 39 Defense Department, U.S., 41–42
China Diamant-1 launch vehicle, 19
antisatellite weapon systems, 6, 40, 43–44, directed energy weapons, 31
85, 90–91 disarmament. See arms race, prevention of; non-
disarmament proposals of, 82–87, 90–92 weaponization
Earth-based systems of, 98 Discovery-1, 23
future negotiations, 109–110 docking technology, 19
information support capability, xxi dual-purpose systems, 39, 91–92, 95
circular orbits, 5–6
Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities (COC), E
72–76, 84–85 early-warning systems. See missile early-warning
Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities systems
proposal (EU), 75–76, 108 Earth
codes of conduct, 69–76 gravity field, 3–5, 7–8
drafting of, 72–76, 108 images of, 20–22
history of, 69–70 eccentricity, defined, 4
as international legal regulations, 71 Eisenhower, Susan, 76
Cold War era Eisenhower Institute, 74–75, 108
BMD system buildup, 33–34 EKV-PLV anti-ballistic missile system, 35
space weapons programs, 31–45 electronic miniaturization, 27, 105
U.S. missiles and, 10–11 elliptical orbits, 5–6, 9
Combined Air and Space Operations Center, 25 equatorial orbits, 4–5, 9
Commission on Space (US), 41 European Code of Conduct in Coastal Zones (1999), 71
Commission to Assess United States National Explorer-1, 18–19
Security Space Management and
Organization report, 41 F
Commonwealth of Independent States, 85 Falcon system, 88–89
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT, Fengyun-1-3 spacecraft, 40
1996), 79, 94 Ferret spacecraft, 23

112 indEx
fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS), 88 k
Framework for Space Security, 74–75, 108 Kaskad anti-satellite orbital station, 32
France, 19, 56, xxi Kazakhstan, 85
Kinetic Energy Anti-Satellite (KEAsat), 35, 37
g kinetic energy weapons, 31, 32
Gagarin, Yuri, 18 Kontakt airborne missile system, 32
Galileo system, 72 Korolev, Sergey P., 17
Geneva Conference on Disarmament (2002), 83, 107 Kosygin, Alexei, 85
Geneva Conference on Disarmament (2008), 82–83 Kourou Space Center, 9
geostationary orbits Krasnoyarsk radar station, 64
explanation of, 4–5
intelligence gathering and, 23 l
USSR/Russia and, 9 land-based ICBMs, 33–34
Germany, 84–85, xxi laser weapons system (SBL), 36–37, 92
Glenn, John, 19 LASP spacecraft, 23
globalization, 103, 110, xxiii launch vehicles
global positioning systems, 24–26 AirLaunch program and, 37–38
Globalstar network, 26 early space activity, 18–19
GLOSNASS system, 72 rocket engines and, 20
Gorbachev, Mikhail, 64 scientific discoveries and, 21
gravity field small spacecraft systems and, 27–28
of Earth, 3–5, 7–8 USSR vs. U.S. use of, 9
space probes and, 21 Limited Test Ban Treaty (1963), 50, 73, 106
liquid-fuel rocket engines, 20
h Lockheed Martin Corporation, 39
Henry L. Stimson Center, 72, 108 Lunokhod-1 rovers, 21
hyperbolic orbits, 5–6 Lunokhod-2 rovers, 21

i m
inclination, defined, 4 manned spaceflight
India, xxi early space activity, 18–20
information technology, 22 science and, 22
Inmarsat network, 26 Mars
intelligence gathering images of, 19
Persian Gulf War and, 23–24 scientific discoveries and, 21
spacecraft and, 23 McNamara, Robert, 86
intermediate-range missiles, 54, 57, 90 Mendelevich, Lev, 52
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF, 1987) meteorological service systems. See weather
as model for future treaties, 95, 109, 110 satellites
negotiations and, 59–60 MiG-31 fighter interceptor, 32, 95
International Aeronautical Federation, 3 military operations. See also space weapons programs
International Code of Conduct against Ballistic comparative costs of, 10–12, 27
Missile Proliferation (2002), 71, 73, 108 history of, 22–29
International Space Station, 19 information support capability, xxii
International Verification Agency, 56 near-Earth space and, 12–13
interplanetary space flights, 21 near-lunar space and, 12
Iraq War (2003) orbital systems and combat, 23–25
NAVSTAR system and, 26 orbits and, 8–9
orbital systems and combat, 24–25 outer space as sphere of, 10–13
Iridium network, 26 precision-guided weapons, 24, 26
ISMU system, 32, 53–54 SBL programs and, 36–37
IS (satellite interceptor) program, 32 seek and destroy missions, 26
Italy, 19 space support teams, 26
telecommunication satellites and, 26, 38
j terrain and, 12
Japan, xxi miniaturization, 27, 105
Jupiter-C launch vehicle, 19 MIRACLE (Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical
Laser), 36, 37
missile early-warning systems

indEx 113
FOBS and, 88 parabolic, 5–6
IMEWS system, 24 polar, 5
laser weapons systems and, 36 satellites and, 4–10
space-based, 22–23 sun-synchronous, 5
Missile Technology Control Regime (1987), 71 outer space
Model Code of Conduct for Responsible Space- defined, 3–4
Faring Nations, 108 as military sphere, 10–13
Moon orbits and, 4–10
human landings on, 18–19 properties of, 3–4
non-weaponization and, 51 satellites and, 4–10
scientific discoveries and, 21 Outer Space Treaty (1967)
Moscow Declaration on the New Strategic ban on nuclear weapons, 73
Relationship (2002), 42–43 claims of sovereignty and, 3
Multiple-use Space Maneuvering Vehicle (SMV), legacy of, 106, 109
37–38 scope of, 50–51, 70
verification capabilities and, 94
Napoleon, on politics, 110 P
National Defense report (Russian Federation), 42 parabolic orbits, 5–6
National Space Policy (US), 41 Patriot missile defense systems, 24
national technical means of verification (NTMV), 52, Pegasus carriers, 28
59, 93–95, 98–99 Pegasus-xL booster, 28
National Telecommunications and Information People’s Republic of China. See China
Exchange, U.S., 38 Perino, Dana, 70
NATO, 26 Persian Gulf War, 23–24
natural resources, orbital geodesic surveys of, 21 polar orbits, 5
Naval Ocean Surveillance System (US), 28 pollution, of atmosphere, 22
NAVSTAR system, 24, 26, 72 “Possible Elements for a Future International
near space, 4, xxi–xxii Legal Agreement on the Prevention of
Netherlands, 85 the Deployment of Weapons in Outer
Nike-Zeus missiles, 34, 51 Space, the Threat or Use of Force
non-weaponization, 49–65 Against Outer Space Objects,” 83
agreements on, 49, 50–52 precision-guided weapons, 24, 26, 72
anti-satellite consultations and, 52–54 Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (UN), 69
chronology of negotiations, 60–64 Prompt Global Strike program, 81–82
nuclear weapons and, 49–51, 56–65, 73, 105 Proton-K, 9
USSR/Russia initiatives, 49, 54–56
NTMV. See national technical means of verification R
(NTMV) radiation belts, 21
Nuclear and Space Arms Negotiations, 56–57 radio-electronic warfare, 38–39
nuclear detonation detection systems, Earth-based, 23 radio interference, 6, 8
nuclear weapons, non-weaponization and, 49–51, Reagan, Ronald, 32, 53
56–65, 73, 105. See also arms race, research and development, 57, 59
prevention of reusable aerodynamic orbiters, 19
Nunn, Sam, 52 Reykjavik summit (1986), 57
Rhyolite satellites, 23, 39
O rocket engines, 20
Obama, Barack, 76, 96, 108 Rocket Propulsion Research Institute, 17
orbital altitude, 4 Rockwell International Corporation, 35–36
orbital geodesic surveys, 21 “rogue” nations, perceived threat of, 105–106
orbital period, 4 Romania, 85
orbital stations, 19–20 R-7 ICBM, 18
orbits, 4–10 Rumsfeld Commission, 41
characteristics of, 7 Russian Federation. See USSR/Russia
circular, 5–6 Ryzhkov, Nikolai, 55
elliptical, 5–6, 9
equatorial, 4–5, 9 S
hyperbolic, 5–6 SALT I/II Treaties, 52–53, 97, 100, 109, 110
military operations and, 8–9 Samos spacecraft, 23

114 indEx
San Marco spacecraft, 19 BMD Treaty and, 52
satellites. See also anti-satellite systems (ASAT) legacy of, 104
costs of, 12 Soviet monitoring of laboratories, 64–65
equatorial orbits of, 4–5 threat of “rogue” nations and, 105–106
navigation systems and, 20, 26 U.S.-Soviet relations and, 52–54, 56–57
orbits and, 4–10 Strategic Missile Forces (SMF), 33–34
telecommunication, 4–5, 20, 23, 26, 38 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT,
Saturn, 19 2002), 79, 94
science, space activity and, 20–22, 104 submarines, ballistic missiles and, 33, 34
Skif anti-satellite orbital station, 32 sun-synchronous orbits, 5
Skor satellites, 23 Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
small spacecraft systems, 27–28 (NATO), 26
SMV (Multiple-use tSpace Maneuvering Vehicle), Syria, 85
Soldier Modernization Plan (US), 28–29 T
space activity. See also specific programs Taiyuan Launch Center, 40
future trends, 29 Taurus carriers, 28
history of, 17–29, xxii–xxiii telecommunication satellites
history of military operations, 22–29 commercial, 20
science and, 20–22 geostationary orbits of, 4–5, 23
spacecraft. See also specific spacecraft military operations and, 26, 38
administrative support and, 11 theaters of military operations (TMO), 12–13
autonomous micro-spacecraft, 39 Thor missiles, 34
costs of, 11–12, 27 Tikhonravov, Mikhail K., 17–18
intelligence gathering and, 23 Tiros satellites, 23
manned, 18–20, 22 Titov, Gherman, 18
numbers of, xxi–xxii Topol-M missile system, 34
orbital parameters for, 4 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
radio interference and, 6, 8 (CFE, 1990), 89, 94
small spacecraft, 27–28 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States
space debris and, 6–8, 22 in the Exploration and Use of Outer
velocity and, 5–6 Space. See Outer Space Treaty (1967)
vulnerability of, 43, 93 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile
space debris Systems. See BMD Treaty (1972)
atmospheric pollution and, 22 Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons
measurement of, 6–8 in Outer Space (PPWT draft, 2008)
spacecraft and, 6 features of, 90–93
space flight dynamics, 20 full-scale testing and, 101
space probes, 21 negotiations and, 96
Space Shuttle, 19 prohibition of WMDs, 107–108
space weapons programs, 31–45 as universal agreement proposal, 82–86
China and, 40 verification capabilities, 94–95
future trends, 37–39 Treaty on the Prohibition of Anti-Satellite Weapons
U.S. and, 31, 34–45 and on Ways to Ensure the Immunity of
USSR/Russia and, 31–34, 40–45 Space Objects (1987), 55–56
SRAM-Altair system, 53, 95
START I Treaty (1994) U
codes of conduct and, 71 United Arab Emirates, xxi
FOBS and, 88 United Nations
legacy of, 59–60, 100–101 Resolution 57 (2002), 69
as model for future treaties, 95, 109, 110 Resolution 1884, 50
negotiations and, 64 Resolution 2222, 50
verification and, 94 USSR treaty proposals, 54–55
Star Wars program. See Strategic Defense Initiative United States
(SDI) absence of goodwill, 44, 96
Strategic Air Command, U.S., 10–11 anti-satellite weapon systems, 34–37, 43–45,
Strategic Boost Glide Vehicle project, 37 52–54
Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) codes of conduct and, 69–76
announcement of, 32–33 Cold War era weapons and, 31–45

indEx 115
combat alert missiles, 10–11 x
CTBT and, 79 x-40A (SMV), 38
early space activity, 18–20 xichang Satellite Launch Center, 40
future negotiations, 109–110
global positioning systems, 24–26 y
information support capability, xxi Yeltsin, Boris, 32, 54, 65
inter-armed forces systems, 25–26 Yugoslavia, former
Iraq invasion and, 24–25 NATO support teams and, 26
moon landings, 19 orbital systems and combat, 24
outer space utilization and, 9
Persian Gulf War and, 23–24 Z
photo-reconnaissance satellites, 22–23 Zenit-2 photo-reconnaissance satellite, 22
post-Cold War space weapons development,
42–43, 105–106
SBL programs and, 36–37
seek and destroy missions, 26
small spacecraft systems, 27–28
Soldier Modernization Plan, 28–29
space program funding, 27, xxii
space weapons programs and, 31, 34–45
United States Space Surveillance Network, 6–8
anti-satellite weapon systems, 32, 43–44,
52–54, 85, 90–91
codes of conduct and, 69–76
Cold War era weapons and, 31–45
disarmament proposals and, 82–87, 90–92, 107
early space activity, 17–19
future negotiations, 109–110
information support capability, xxi
non-weaponization and, 49, 54–65
orbital stations and, 19
outer space utilization and, 9–10
photo-reconnaissance satellites, 22
post–Cold War space weapons development,
space program budgets, 27
space support teams, 27
space weapons programs, 31–34, 40–45

velocity, 5–6
Venus, 21
verification capabilities
international agency for, 56
prevention of arms race and, 93–96
service life stages and, 96
treaty negotiations and, 52, 58–59, 85–86
Vostok-1, 18
Vostok-2, 18
VR-190 project, 17–18

Washington summit on ABM Treaty (1987), 58
weapons in space, defined, 91
weather satellites
Iraq invasion and, 25
Persian Gulf War and, 24
technology of, 21
Tiros satellite, 23

116 indEx

Alexei Arbatov is a senior scholar and chair of the Nonproliferation Program
at the Carnegie Moscow Center. He is also head of the Center for International
Security at the Institute for International Economy and International Relations at
the Russian Academy of Sciences.

valery babintsev is an independent expert.

vladimir dvorkin is principal researcher at the Center for International Security
at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International
Relations and former director of the Defense Ministry’s Central Research Institute
in Moscow.

viktor mizin is a leading researcher at the Center for the Study of War and
Peace at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Russian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

sergey oznobishchev is the director of the Institute of Strategic Assess-
ments and a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Rela-
tions of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Petr topychkanov is a research associate at the Institute of Asian and
African Studies at Moscow State University and coordinator of the Carnegie
Moscow Center’s Nonproliferation Program.

contributors 117
cArnegie endowment For
internAtionAl PeAce

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit organiza-
tion dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active
international engagement by the United States. Founded in 1910, its work is non-
partisan and dedicated to achieving practical results. The Endowment—currently
pioneering the first global think tank—has operations in China, the Middle East,
Russia, Europe, and the United States. These five locations include the centers
of world governance and the places whose political evolution and international
policies will most determine the near-term possibilities for international peace
and economic advance.

Jessica T. Mathews, President
Paul Balaran, Executive Vice President and Secretary
Thomas Carothers, Vice President for Studies
Marwan Muasher, Vice President for Studies
Douglas H. Paal, Vice President for Studies
George Perkovich, Vice President for Studies

board of trustees
Richard Giordano, Chairman Linda Mason
Stephen R. Lewis, Jr., Vice Chairman Jessica T. Mathews
Kofi A. Annan Zanny Minton Beddoes
Bill Bradley Sunil Bharti Mittal
Gregory Craig Catherine James Paglia
William H. Donaldson W. Taylor Reveley III
Harvey V. Fineberg J. Stapleton Roy
Donald V. Fites Vanessa Ruiz
Chas W. Freeman, Jr. Aso O. Tavitian
James C. Gaither Shirley M. Tilghman
William W. George
The world faces numerous security concerns—from nuclear
proliferation to terrorism to climate change—that cannot be
resolved by one nation alone. And unilateral military force
will not defeat transnational threats. In this era of global
challenges, one issue requires urgent attention that is “out
of this world”: the militarization of space.
In Outer Space: Weapons, Diplomacy, and Security, leading
Russian experts analyze the space weapons programs of
world powers. As countries try to avoid a catastrophic new
arms race in space, the book details the political, military, tech-
nical, and legal problems confronting negotiators attempting
to prevent—or at least control—the weaponization of space.

Alexei Arbatov is a senior scholar and chair of the Nonproliferation
Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center and head of the Center for
International Security at the Institute of World Economy and International
Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

vladimir dvorkin is principal researcher at the Center for International
Security at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy
and International Relations and former director of the Defense Ministry’s
Central Research Institute in Moscow.