Chief Master Sgt. Ron Lerch of the U.S. Space Force gave a briefing on the current threats in space, which are not as far-fetched as they may seem. There are over 44,500 space objects orbiting Earth, including active satellites and debris. The concern lies not in the number of satellites, but rather in their capabilities. Lerch mentioned kinetic kill vehicles, such as a Russian “nesting doll” satellite that can damage other satellites. There are also machines with nets and grappling hooks, unmanned space planes, and quantum communication links being tested. Additionally, there are predictions of satellites with jamming devices, chemical sprayers, and blinding lasers in the next decade. These threats are in addition to existing cyberwarfare tools, electromagnetic instruments, and antisatellite missiles.
The creation of the U.S. Space Force, authorized in 2019, was not a partisan effort but a response to the need for military organizations to adapt to evolving space technologies. The Space Force consolidated existing programs and teams within the Air Force and provided a central chain of command. Before its creation, there was a concern that the United States would be at a disadvantage without a dedicated team pushing for the specific tools needed in space.
Space has become an integral part of modern warfare and defense, relied upon for intelligence, surveillance, communications, and more. Disruptions to space systems, as seen in battles against Ukraine, can have significant consequences. Space technologies also play a crucial role in everyday life, from satellite phone systems to GPS for navigation and banking.
The work of the Space Force is often classified and out of sight, leading to a battle for visibility and recognition. There are still those who question its legitimacy. The Space Force is currently faced with the challenge of how to fight wars in space and prevent space wars from occurring. Its operations division is headquartered in Colorado Springs, focusing on ensuring space security and readiness.
In conclusion, the threats in space are evolving and require the U.S. Space Force to adapt and prepare for future conflicts.