Space: The Final Frontier—or the Last Battlespace?

| Aug 8, 2022

America’s pursuit of military dominance risks damaging the peaceful—and scientifically and economically enriching—exploration taking place today.

By Mark Hannah, Senior Fellow

This article appeared in The Nation on August 8, 2022.

Late last month, the new head of Russia’s space agency announced that Russian crews will leave the International Space Station at the end of 2024. This decision abandons a long tradition of scientific cooperation as powerful countries begin to compete through anti-satellite warfare—a capability Russia, China, and the United States have already tested.

Russia’s ominous announcement follows the first images from the James Webb telescope, a triumph of human engineering. We live in a renaissance of cosmic curiosity—the advent of commercial space flights, NASA’s return to Venus, plans to further explore the moon and Mars. A pivot from cooperation to conflict now would be tragic.

Space has long been a domain for international rivalry. The US and USSR were fierce competitors in space during the Cold War. The International Space Station has nevertheless served as a model for cooperation. But the current diplomatic breakdown between Russia and the United States makes it harder to develop common rules for further space activity.

The US might have contributed to this breakdown. The Trump administration’s creation of a Space Force was criticized last summer as a “direct threat to peace” by China, and interpreted by Russia as turning space into a “theater of military operations.”

Read more of Mark’s article in The Nation.

Written by Mark Hannah

Mark is a senior fellow with the Independent America project at the Institute for Global Affairs and host of the podcast, None Of The Above.

Read more from Mark

This post is part of Independent America, a research project led out by IGA senior fellow Mark Hannah, which seeks to explore how US foreign policy could better be tailored to new global realities and to the preferences of American voters.

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