Issue Brief on “Growing Great Power Competition and Weaponisation of Outerspace”

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In July this year, the US Space Force opened its new satellite operations centre named “Rendezvous and Proximity (REPR) Satellite Operations Center” at the Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. The Space and Missile Systems Center’s Innovation and Prototyping Directorate established it to advance the newly developed Space Force’s war-fighting capabilities in Outerspace. It will act as a new workspace to drive on-orbit experimentation and demonstrations with prototype satellites and payloads.”[1] The REPR Satellite Operations Center will allow the US to “carry out on-orbit experiments and prototyping efforts, develop innovative concepts of operation and demonstrate game-changing technology for the US Space Force and our mission partners,”[2] said Colonel Timothy Sejba, Head of the Directorate. All of this raises the question, whether the world is heading towards a space arms race?

Formally established on December 20, 2019, as a part of the US Air Force, the Space Force is composed of three field commands: Space Operations Command, Space Systems Command (SSC) and Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM). Based in Peterson Air Base, Colorado, Space Operations Command would perform tasks such as “operations of military satellites, including GPS, missile warning constellations and satellite communication systems in use today.”[3] A three-star general would head it. Similarly, the SSC will also be led by a three-star general and would be the centre for developing, acquiring and sustaining space weapon systems. Space and Missile Systems Center, which is the current primary space procurement organisation, will also be transferred to SSC. Lastly, STARCOM will be responsible for the education and training of the staff and the recruits.[4] Its command headquarters is expected to be developed at Huntsville, Alabama.[5]

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