The US had gone one step further to form an independent space force by US President Donald Trump officially announcing the establishment of the Space Command. The new Space Command will be responsible for planning and implementing space operations including missile early warning, satellite operations, space control and support and so on.
The acceleration of space militarization of some countries led by the US has once again raised concerns: Will this lead to a space arms race like the nuclear arms race during the Cold War? What kind of new risks will this bring to human society? What measures shall human society take to address this new challenge?
Space militarization is likely to become a reality soon. If the US officially forms a space army, then it will become a foregone conclusion that mankind will absolutely enter the era of space militarization. In fact, the process of space militarization already began long ago. The US had a space command as early from 1985 to 2002, which was later merged by the US Strategic Command.
Stimulated by the US’ accelerated space militarization, other countries have also begun the construction of space military institutions. For example, Russia established the Aerospace Forces in 2015. France plans to create a space command this year and turn it into an aerospace force in the future. Japan will also set up an "information and space force."
That said, the move by the US will still have important milestone significance to some extent. In the past, humans mainly engaged in defensive and media use of space, for example, anti-missile, anti-satellite, air-to-ground reconnaissance, land-based missiles re-entering the Earth through space and other activities. However, space will become an arena for offensive power competition. The passive military use of space by humans will develop in the direction of active military use.
Human society has to proactively think about solutions to related risks and challenges under the circumstance that militarization of space is about to become a reality.
First, we must actively prevent the space arms race. Currently, some countries feel the necessity of militarization of space, which is similar to the motivation and strategic considerations of the nuclear weapons competition between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
However, human society must also learn from the experience and lessons of the nuclear arms race. The US and the Soviet Union had more than 70,000 pieces of nuclear weapons with a total equivalent of more than 10 billion tons.
In the end, these expensive nuclear weapons have brought many risks to the world, rather than much security benefits to the US and the Soviet Union. Instead, these nuclear weapons have forced the two countries to start the nuclear disarmament. More importantly, over 40,000 pieces of nuclear weapons did not ultimately secure the eternity of the Soviet Union.
The history of the nuclear arms race tells all countries that security concerns from outer space are understandable, but the space arms race based on poor communication and miscalculation of strategic intentions is unnecessary, which can and should be avoided.
Second, if space arms race is really unavoidable, it is necessary to enhance the research and exchanges on the militarization of space and formulate relevant rules in advance. With the development of science and technology, the increasing space capacity and interest in space, more and more use of space, including military use, will become an inevitable trend in the history of human development.
However, countries must strengthen discussions and exchanges, and develop space regulations as soon as possible to prevent human security risks brought by strategic misjudgments and disorder. A well-managed, well-coordinated use of space can not only effectively reduce human security risks, but also generate other security benefits.
Third, we must shape the new space identity for mankind. In the past, human activities were mainly in land, sea, sky, electromagnetic, cyberspace and other fields, all of which were based on Earth.
But space is a new field that exists outside of the earth. In front of the space, we are not only people from different countries, but also "people of the Earth." This identity brings new challenges to countries, but it also brings us new opportunities to re-recognize ourselves and develop ourselves. The human society should become a community of shared destiny faster on the issue of space militarization risks and its governance.