What means may a nation lawfully employ to respond to and to defeat threats and attacks on its space systems? Treaties and customary law provide a strong incentive to limit space activities to non-aggressive “peaceful purposes.” They do not, however, proscribe space warfare or preparation for such conflict. Space system components are thus at risk, and can be attacked, degraded, or destroyed, simultaneously or each in detail. The use of force is allowed only in self-defense against an “armed attack” or in accord with authorization of the United Nations (UN). Kinetic, electromagnetic, or information operation attacks against space systems are each an “armed attack” to which the use of force is permitted. The right of self-defense is subject to the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and other treaties and agreements. Even if lawful means and methods are employed and targets engaged, physical, technical, environmental, political realities, and their risks and benefits limit options to defend and fight space systems. Decades of senior policymakers have recognized the importance of the space domain, assessed the risks in their context, and provided measured and calm global leadership to preserve access to it.
Rendleman, James D.
"Lawful Response to Attacks on Space Systems,"
Space and Defense: Vol. 4:
0, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/spaceanddefense/vol4/iss0/3
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