Science and technology are changing with each passing day, and military competition and contests around space are constantly escalating—

  Space military competition presents new trends

  ■Zhang Yuehui

  In recent years, science and technology have been advancing with each passing day, and military competition and contests around space have been escalating between countries.

The United States, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, and South Korea have established space military forces and stepped up research on space combat theories and combat patterns.

At the same time, the space game of various countries is accelerating to extend to the lunar space, and the characteristics of the mixed use of space power are more prominent. These new trends in the militarization of space are worthy of high attention.

  The first signs of space warfare

  With the frequent conduct of space military exercises, space has become a combat domain alongside land, sea and air.

Judging from the practice of various countries in organizing space military exercises, relevant space tactics have surfaced.

Among them, tactics such as space orbit warfare, space network electronic warfare, and space navigation warfare have attracted much attention.

  The operation of spacecraft in orbit follows the basic principles of orbital dynamics.

Orbital warfare, that is, military confrontation around orbital resources, is an important part of space operations.

Among them, the direct game confrontation between on-orbit spacecraft is the most "watchable": one spacecraft conducts reconnaissance, surveillance, or even interference, and drives away from the other spacecraft by approaching, escorting, flying around, etc. , drag away, destroy and other tasks.

  The 9th Delta Force of the US Space Force is a force dedicated to orbital warfare.

At present, the United States has developed orbital warfare weapons such as GSSAP satellites and CLIO satellites, and is developing experimental weapons such as EAGLE maneuvering aircraft, ARMOR elastic satellites, and PODS orbital preset delivery systems.

According to the U.S. "Space System Capability Development Plan for 2030", the U.S. will build a high-orbit space fleet based on the "Rooster" space carrier after 2030. It will be deployed on a regular basis in peacetime, and the "wolf pack" tactics will be adopted in wartime. "Tetra" attacked and defended small satellites and blocked high-orbit areas.

In addition, the US "Starlink" program, although in the name of civilian use, can also become an orbital warfare weapon in wartime.

  Russia also attaches great importance to the building of orbital warfare capabilities.

The Central Space Reconnaissance Center of the Russian Space Command monitors the number and status of orbital clusters of foreign space systems.

According to media reports, the "anti-satellite" satellite developed by Russia can make multiple orbit changes to approach the target satellite, and then use directional explosive warheads or use lasers, microwaves and other means to destroy or disable the target satellite.

The European Union recently proposed to build an independent space interconnection constellation plan and draft "space traffic rules" to ensure the safety of spacecraft in orbit.

  Spacecraft such as satellites are the most important part of space infrastructure, but their functional operation is highly dependent on the support of grid power technology.

Satellite systems, ground command and control systems, sky-earth links, etc. may all be attacked by network power, which will seriously damage the functions of satellites.

In early March, Rogozin, the president of Roscosmos, said the group's security systems automatically repulsed cyberattacks by hackers on Russia's space flight control center and satellites.

In addition, Russia also has the ability to interfere with the downlink and uplink of communication satellites, such as the Tirada-2 system and the Bylina-MM system specially used to interfere with the uplink.

  The integration between space technology and grid power technology is also an important basis for the US military to implement all-area warfare.

In particular, the military application of the "Starlink" program has enabled the US military to make important progress in the construction of global combat indicators such as the interconnection of combat units and real-time battlefield situation awareness.

In addition, the US Space Force also attempts to improve the space network electronic warfare capabilities by building a "space shooting range" virtual combat system and forming a "network defense team".

  In addition, space navigation warfare has also entered people's field of vision.

It is an important purpose of navigation warfare to prevent the enemy from using satellite navigation information, to ensure that oneself and allies can effectively use satellite navigation information, and at the same time not to affect the peaceful use of satellite navigation information in areas outside the theater.

To this end, it is necessary to cooperate with combat forces such as space, network, and electromagnetics to ensure effective control of information such as "positioning, navigation, and timing".

  The gaming space continues to expand

  Space can be divided into near-Earth space, lunar space and interplanetary space.

The Earth-Moon space has great strategic value - from the perspective of space structure, it can control the near-Earth space downwards, and upwards can control the interplanetary space towards celestial bodies such as Mars.

Therefore, while accelerating their forays into near-Earth space, relevant countries also set their sights on the Earth-Moon space.

  The U.S. military has entered a stage of substantial acceleration in seizing the initiative in the Earth-Moon space battlefield.

In June 2021, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory released the "Introduction to Earth-Moon Space", proposing the concept of future Earth-Moon space combat operations, and taking the "Earth-Moon Space Highway Patrol System" experiment as the primary task of entering the Earth-Moon space.

The relevant tender requirements have been released.

In addition, the US Department of Defense proposed the use of nuclear energy as the power for the future satellite fleet, and the US Aquarius Space Corporation announced the launch of the construction of a high-speed communication network on the moon to improve the extraterrestrial communication environment.

  The relevant actions of the United States will inevitably stimulate the space competition between the Earth and the moon and even trigger a new arms race.

Recently, the European Space Agency has formulated a lunar satellite network plan to support the communication and navigation needs of human activities on the moon, so as to achieve effective exploration of the moon.

India has announced a new lunar probe launch plan, and is expected to launch Chandrayaan-3 in August this year.

Relevant Japanese parties also put forward the white paper "Lunar Industry Vision: Earth 6.0", urging the Japanese government to seize the Earth-Moon Space Economic Zone.

  Rapid development of cutting-edge technology

  The competition for space militarization is essentially a process in which relevant countries seek military advantages with their scientific and technological advantages, thereby winning strategic initiatives and seizing opportunities in the space battlefield.

At present, major countries are strengthening technical research on space assets' global situational awareness, automatic threat evasion, damage automatic repair, and rapid source tracing and counterattack.

  In order to solve the power problem of spacecraft running for a long time, relevant countries have turned their attention to nuclear power and propulsion technology.

Russia is vigorously developing the "Zeus" nuclear-powered space tugboat, hoping to make it the main connection vehicle between future space stations and capable of performing complex military and scientific missions in deep space.

In December 2020, the US government issued the sixth space policy directive "National Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion Strategy", hoping to promote the development of US space nuclear power and propulsion technology.

  On-orbit service and manufacturing technologies can be used to extend the on-orbit time of spacecraft such as satellites and enhance or expand their mission capabilities.

Japan is studying the construction of "space patrol ships" capable of alerting, monitoring and supplying functions in space.

The UK is also targeting on-orbit services and accelerating the "Active Debris Removal and On-orbit Services" program.

The U.S. Space Force plans to establish a space-based logistics on-orbit service system to provide on-orbit maintenance and small satellite recovery services in peacetime, as well as space traffic management and law enforcement tasks; Space combat missions such as spacecraft.

  The rapid development of digital technology and intelligent technology has created conditions for the generation and improvement of space military capabilities.

The U.S. Space Force focuses on digital engineering, digital talent, digital headquarters, and digital operations, seeking to create a true "digital service" through technological change.

It also proposed to create a space metaverse, and support space fighters to carry out collaboration, training and other activities through an interactive 3D virtual reality environment.