We may think war in space is a scenario dreamed up by Hollywood film-makers. But Chris Bowlby discovers how the world’s top military minds now believe future wars will be fought both on Earth - and above it. Satellite communications have become key to military action. We reveal how secret plans and weapon designs focus more and more on how to attack – or defend – crucial ‘space assets’. Rising powers such as China and India are taking this very seriously, while the US is pouring money into its new space strategy.
Since the launch of the first satellites, the military have had their eyes on dominating space. We hear of extraordinary plans to arm space stations and experiments with detonating weapons high above Earth. Until now, though, all-out conflict up there has been prevented. But for how long? Space matters hugely to all our lives, in ways few realise. We reveal how much is at stake in a new age of tension - at the highest level.
*** In relation to the creation of the International Space Station mentioned in this programme, we would like to make clear that while this project was heavily dependent on US funding and Russian engineering in its initial stages, it also had involvement from the European Space Agency and a number of other countries. There are five funding partners in the ISS partnership, USA, Russia, ESA, Canada and Japan. ***
(Photo: Nasa space shuttle Atlantis in Earth orbit, 2011. Credit: Nasa)