By Namrata Goswami
Art work by James Vaughan
The newly minted Space Force Journal (SFJ) with its beautiful space art makes for exciting and inspiring reading. The Journal launched January 31, 2021. Per the Editorial Foreword, SFJ offers a platform for diverse perspectives on space policy, literature, science and space law. The Journal hopes to be an advocacy platform on topics that could be of particular interest to the newly establish U.S. Space Force (see Space Force commercial). The journal’s intent is to foster a deep-seated understanding of spacepower, its meaning, and what is required to sustain leadership. It is hoped that SFJ will provide a critical forum to serious scholarship on issues pertaining to spacepower found on a single source—a forum absent until now. SFJ seeks to also discuss academic and policy dialogue on issues of critical importance to not only Space Force missions, doctrines and outlook (see Space Force origins video), but also the issues that could be of importance to the larger space science, space advocacy and space enthusiast community such as NSS.
The ambitious first issue includes nine provocative articles on a range of important issues:
- 1) Dickey’s New Service, New Architecture: Rising to the Challenge of Delivering Space Force Capabilities which recommends redesigning the national security architecture to better accommodate new modes of military thinking to include interoperability.
- 2) Buehler et. al’s Posturing Space Forces for Operations Beyond GEO offers insights into how Space Force would require a strategic space situational awareness mode and operational capacity beyond GEO as humanity moves out into deep space.
- 3) Malachowski’s Don’t Gamble on the Next Space Race: Win in the Orbital Gray Zone Now raises concerns about the growing criticality of space as an economic domain and the consequences of that, to include the unwillingness of some countries to abide by norms and rules.
- 4) Grosselin’s A Beneficial and Striking Success: Diplomatic Spacepower and Communication Satellites in the Early Space Age highlights the diplomatic spacepower influence of communications satellites, as well as their long term strategic effects.
- 5) Whitman Cobb’s “It’s a Trap!” The Pros and Mostly “Khans” of Science Fiction’s Influence on the United States Space Force highlights the expectations about the Space Force (see Space Force recruitment video) from the larger community based on some Star Trek-like belief of what a Starfleet should be like. The author argues that the Space Force leaders should address that expectation and ‘de-science fictionalize’ the idea of the Space Force in the popular imagination, a daunting task given the mythological societal power of stories like Star Wars and Star Trek (not dissimilar to Apollo and Artemis in Greece or Chang’e in China);
- 6) Brahm’s STEM Education Should be a National Security Priority discusses the vital importance of STEM education to national security, especially its contribution to creating technological ‘breakthroughs’ to broaden and strengthen national security-based education architectures.
- 7) Fabian’s Psychology of Deterrence in Sino-U.S. Space Relations discusses the security dilemma concept where U.S. prioritizing space dominance and deterrence could lead to counter-balancing by China as space and sovereignty issues are intricately linked in Chinese conceptions of spacepower and comprehensive national power. Cultural differences and misunderstandings are likely to lead to crisis mismanagement.
- 8) Poole and Bettinger’s The Cosmic Sandbox: An Advocated Military Role in Future Space Commerce and Exploration argues for the need to develop U.S. Space Force capacity to move beyond simply support functions to national defense and terrestrial military operations, to playing a vital role in supporting commercial and civilian activities, especially in the cislunar environment.
- 9) Ziarnick’s A Practical Guide for Spacepower Strategy is particularly relevant offering insights into what is spacepower, its strategy and operationalization. The idea is to develop a spacepower culture and identity specifically to develop an economic and strategic aspect of why space is important. Given the focus of the Space Force Journal on discussing spacepower from diverse perspectives, Ziarnick’s theory remedies a current blind-spot in USSF thinking.
Clearly, the topics explored by Space Force Journal are relevant to the National Space Society given its vision of “people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity”. The Space Force Journal promises to be a forum of rich discussion on issues pertaining to national security, space security, strategy and goals for spaceflight – including discussions of human settlement in space and how to construct a Space Force supportive of space development, including such roles as rescue and other humanitarian operations. NSS members no doubt have opinions on the matter, and perspectives on the vision of what a Space Force should evolve to be (see The Future of Space 2060 and Implications for U.S. Strategy: Report on the Space Futures Workshop). The Space Force Journal welcomes diverse perspectives, and NSS members wishing to submit original articles, original artwork, or letters to the editor should know the Space Force Journal has an open call on a number of topics of interest relevant to NSS members.
Dr. Namrata Goswami is an independent scholar on space policy.
The “Space Force” was established by Trump on December 20 2020. Then Defense Secretary Mark Esper commented that “Our reliance on space-based capabilities has grown dramatically and today outer space has evolved into a warfighting domain of its own.”
The United Nations Committee on the peaceful Uses of Outer Space was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 to govern the exploration and use of space for the benefit of all humanity:
“The goal was to establish space for peace primarily then security and development. The Committee was tasked with reviewing international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, studying space-related activities that could be undertaken by the United Nations, encouraging space research programmes, and studying legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space.”
The activities of Trump’s $15.4 billion dollar Space Force could be conducted by our Air Force. These expenditures are unnecessary.
I am saddened by the creation of the US Space Force and puzzled by the American fixation on National Security. First, I often wonder what Americans are so afraid of that National Security is such a big deal to them, and second, how long before other nations also want a space force, leading to another expensive and wasteful arms race?
Dr. Goswami, Thank you for brining the SFJ to NSS. Space endeavors continue to grow in complexity. Without a security apparatus to protect high value assets, we are one step away from disaster. The journal you have shared with NSS takes a comprehensive look into present and future USSF developments. I look forward to reading the current and future issues of this periodical.
The most recent issue of Wired gives a compelling/fictional warning context that bares witness to the necessity of USSF.