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The Need for Space Defence

The Need for Space Defence

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Space defence is a major concern for many countries, which are reliant on space systems both economically and militarily. There is a UNOOSA agreement and space sovereignty isn’t recognized formally. However, even though there are threats and conflicts in space, it remains a contested environment. Space is still an issue of contention.

Space exploration was very competitive in its early years. The United States and the Soviet Union developed anti-satellite weapons (ASAT). These were never utilized in battle, but their development demonstrates the climate at the time.

The same deterrent strategy that kept the outbreak of open nuclear warfare on Earth at bay also applied to outer space. Many of the historical certainties from the late 20th century, though, have vanished or fallen apart. The assurance of space-based deterrents is no longer certain now.

Military space operations and technology are now playing a larger role in defence strategies and economic development. For example, counterterrorism operations rely on GPS and satellite communications systems to power drones for track-and-strike missions. Surveillance is one area that benefits from space-based communication technologies.

Communications satellites, for example, have expanded the use of space technology beyond simply military applications. A plethora of communication satellites orbits the Earth today. Now, on a worldwide scale, 90 per cent of the most recently launched satellites are commercial rather than the government in nature.


The Threat of Disruption

The UN treaty does not prohibit businesses or nations from breaching regulatory boundaries. Commercial and national interests are unrestricted by the UN agreement.

More countries have developed counterspace weapons because of an awareness of possible dangers. These are intended to disable or destroy satellites and satellite systems in orbit. As a result, there is a need to focus on space warfare technology development. In general, the following types of threats in space may be distinguished:

  • Kinetic physical – counterspace weapons such as warheads, but also orbital debris resulting from such attacks
  • Non-kinetic physical weapons and equipment that can disrupt satellites without making direct contacts, such as lasers and high-powered microwave weapons
  • Electromagnetic weapons that disrupt the electromagnetic spectrum, block communications, or generate false signals are known as electronic weapons.
  • Cyberattacks on satellites can record information, totally erase it, or replace it with false data.

Satellites ensure that the world is linked. This, however, increases the fragility of systems, networks, and even whole economies. What forms of space protection will provide the security needed by global space-based assets?

Defensive Counterspace Operations

Defensive counter-space operations are designed to safeguard friendly satellite systems, whereas offensive counter-space operations seek to disrupt, degrade, or destroy the opponent’s space systems.

Passive defences

Passive defences make attacks on friendly space systems less successful or even help these systems better resist assaults.

Architectural Defences

  • Disaggregated constellations are groups of satellites that work in tandem in specialized missions. This helps to minimize the possibility of having single mission-critical satellites that might be targeted by the attack. It also casts doubt on which satellite should be attacked to achieve its goals.
  • Constellations that are distributed, on the other hand, work in a system that ensures that the end-user is not reliant on any single satellite. In other words, it implies having more than one egg in each basket. Distributed constellations are used by GPS systems to allow users to receive a fix from any four satellites at once.
  • Proliferated constellations employ huge numbers of the same kind of satellite to replicate functions in order to strengthen protection. Because it raises the number of satellites required for an attacker to successfully assault this, it offers greater security.
  • A diversified architecture comprises many systems that work together to achieve a common goal. Different platforms and payloads operating in separate orbits or domains can be used. An assault on any one of them has a lesser impact on the overall objective.
  • Ground stations in the field can offer some architectural protection if they are rapidly deployable in the case of an attack or natural disaster.


There are several ongoing and new dangers to space activities. These might come from powerful nations or rogue states. These hazards have the potential to be quite damaging to military operations and defences as well as economies. Fortunately, there is a variety of defensive solutions available to space agencies.

However, the implementation of such strategies will necessitate testing and analysis. Space agencies may utilize the necessary knowledge and understanding to develop and execute the most efficient forms of space defence in a dynamic environment.

For space systems, particularly sophisticated network modelling and simulation are some of the most effective forms of testing and analysis. ST Engineering Antycip works with industry leaders to provide cutting-edge capabilities in testing and evaluation. For further information, please contact us.

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