The US was the first state to conduct an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test, as far back as 1959. Since then, several countries have conducted similar tests, generating dangerous orbital debris.
Now, the US has also become the first state to declare – unilaterally – that it will not conduct direct-ascent ASAT tests that create debris. But why conduct such tests in the first place? Are they useful from a military perspective? How destructive are they exactly? And what kind of policy would be most effective at preventing further tests that pose a risk to our orbits?
We discuss all this, and the ambitions for the UN’s open-ended working group on reducing space threats, which started in May 2022, with Victoria Samson, Washington Office Director for Secure World Foundation, and Dr Brian Weeden, Director of Programme Planning at Secure World Foundation.
War in Space Podcasts
Space is becoming increasingly congested, contested and competed over. It has never been so easy – or so cheap – to launch a satellite into orbit. With space activity proliferating, its impact on national security has grown too: space assets are becoming vulnerable and space debris is becoming increasingly dangerous. War in Space is a series of interviews with experts in space and defence that will analyse the intersection of space and national security, unravelling the technical jargon that so often accompanies these discussions and explaining why space matters for our everyday lives and security.
Research Analyst and Policy Lead