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Sansad TV: The Global Debate- Space Supremacy

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Introduction:

The World Space Week this year was observed from October 4th to 10th under the theme Space & Sustainability. Amid the modern space race between countries for space dominance and commercial exploitation by multiple private players.

Growing militarization of Outer Space:

  • There is no global regulatory regimeto address the growing militarisation in space which compel India to develop deterrence for the security of its space-based assets.
  • Anti-satellite technology has so far been in the hands of very few countries: United States, Russia and China.
  • The acquisition and demonstration of this technology make India a memberof an elite group of countries.
  • Outer space is becoming an arena for technological shows of forcewhether by deployment of spy satellites or testing of weapons.
  • Missiles are one aspect of space warfare, there are several equally effective methods like lasers, to incapacitate satellites that are being developed and are of equally serious concern.

 No global regulatory treaty:

  • India has invested enormous resources in its space programme through the Indian Space Research Organisation.
  • More importantly, our space assets are crucial for India’s development.
  • There is no global regulatory regime to address the growing militarisation in space.
  • The Outer Space Treatydoes not ban military activities within space or the weaponization of space, with the exception of the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space.
  • At the UN Disarmament Commission, India expressed concern about the weaponization of outer spaceand sought collective action to secure space-based assets.
  • As the regulation has vacuum, India has legitimate reasons to develop deterrencefor the security of its space-based assets.
  • Along with international law, there is need of separation between civilian and military use of outer space, international co-operation, free exchange of ideas across borders and import of technologies and products to bring transparencyand to build confidence among nations.

Conclusion:

  • India needs to emphasise is outlining rulesfor what is permissible. India has interests in ensuring that outer space is kept clean, safe and secure for future generations to use as well.
  • It also has interests in strengthening its credentials in global space governance.
  • Until now, India could not play an active role in this because it did not have that capability that gives it a voice in this arena.
  • But now, India has successfully demonstrated its ASAT capability, it should play an important role in mitigating problemssuch as space debris, space traffic management, orbital frequency issues and other issues that are important for ensuring safe and secure access to outer space.
  • India should partner with like-minded countries in initiating these conversations and take them to meaningful international platformssuch as Conference on Disarmament, UN First Committee and UN Disarmament Commission.