Superpowers across the world have tasked military boffins to develop weaponry which can be deployed to space in the break out of a global conflict.
Earth’s orbit will become a battlefield featuring laser armed spacecraft, kamikaze satellites, orbital strike platforms, cyber warfare stations, and war-ready robotics.
Experts predict this new dimension of war will also change the battlefields of earth, as electronic warfare destroys communications satellites and leaves planet-bound armies stumbling blind in a devastating conflict.
American modern warfare specialist Peter Singer told Daily Star Online: “He who controls the heavens likely controls what plays out on planet earth.”
He added: “If the major states were to go to war on planet earth in the 21st century, their battles would likely reach into space.
“The major powers depend on space systems greatly, which offers a lure for trying to take it away from the other side.
“Russia, China, and the US have tested various types of anti-satellites weapons, but no one has permanently deployed them there, as far we know.”
The space weapons expert also added space warfare could plunge earthbound conflict into darkness as communications and GPS systems are knocked out.
America used to be the world’s top space power, but Bob Work, deputy US secretary of defense, said: “We see several nations developing capabilities that threaten to erode our long-assured technological overmatch and our ability to project power.”Work also warned Russia and China could be developing bionic drug-fuelled super soldiers for the battlefield.
The Pentagon has begun training Air Force crews in a program called “Space Mission Force” to develop “space warfighters for tomorrow”.
General John Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command, said: “Securing our right to use space is simply an extension of an age old principle to guarantee use of global commons.”
One of their bits of tech in development is the X-37B, an unmanned space plane to replace the shuttle.
Secure World Foundation, an organisation promoting peace in space, said “could be used to rendezvous and inspect satellites, either friendly or adversarial, and potentially grab and de-orbit satellites”.
The United States pointed the finger at China was becoming the world’s leading space power as the nation is “pursuing a broad array of counterspace capabilities” in an annual report to Congress.
The report penned by top US diplomats warned China’s “space program is expanding and accelerating rapidly as many other nations’ programs proceed with dwindling resources and limited goals”.
Beijing – with which the United States has strained tensions because of a dispute in the South China Sea – is said to have “systems consisting of a satellite armed with a weapon such as an explosive charge, fragmentation device, kinetic energy weapon, laser, radio frequency weapon, jammer or robotic arm”.
China is set to launch 20 space missions this year and are investing in anti-satellite weapons as their analysts say the US relies on them for up to 80% of their intelligence – rendering the US blind the advent of war.
Beijing is developing a Space Force within the People’s Liberation Army which will include nuclear weapons, electronic warfare and strike vessels.
A hypersonic strike vehicle named the DF-ZF is currently undergoing tests in the People’s Republic which could carry a nuclear payload and also carry out non-nuclear precision strikes.
Rick Fisher, a Chinese military affairs expert, said the force’s objective is “to achieve control of low earth orbit in order to defeat the United States on Earth”.
Russia meanwhile is also dedicated to creating anti-satellite weaponry and satellite based electronic jammers.
Vladimir Putin is determined to follow China in create a futuristic weapons which would “guarantee for Russia the fulfilment of space defence tasks for the period until 2020”.
Laser weapon capabilities are already in the hands of Russia – some which are already set to be deployed on their most advanced sea-going warships.
Admiral Cecil D. Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said: “Russia, has demonstrated the ability to perform complex manoeuvres in space.”
Putin’s boffins are currently developing a hypersonic strike bomber capable of launching nuclear weapons from space.
The Russian leader also announced an ambitious plan to “conquer the moon” earlier this year.
Chubby dictator Kim Jong-un also has his eye on the moon as he tasked North Korea’s infant space programme to turn his hermit kingdom into a galactic empire.
However, Earth orbit becoming a battleground with manned star-fighters and hefty capital ships like something out of Star Wars is someway off, Mr Singer adds.
He said: “The human is likely the weak link given all the ways you’d have to design a ship solely around keeping them alive” so most space combat will likely be with unmanned robotic vehicles.
Futuristic war tech is also being developed for Earthbound battlefields with drone armies and an bionic exoskeletons set to make war in the near future.
Stephen Hawking has warned this pursuit of new warfare technology could lead to our own destruction.
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