The independent resource on global security

Outer Space—Battlefield of the Future?

Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISBN 0-85066-130-7
202 pp.

When the Outer Space Treaty was ratified in 1967 by the USA and USSR it was believed that, for the foreseeable future, outer space would be a 'zone of peace'. However, despite the ratification of the Treaty by a further 72 nations by the end of 1976, this illusion has been shattered during the last 10 years. Indeed, in recent years more than 60% of both US and Soviet satellites launched have been military satellites.

  • Outer Space—Battlefield of the Future? describes how satellite technology has developed and how the remarkable achievements of man in space—his landing on the moon and the retrieval of spectacular photographs of the distant planets, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury—have distracted attention from other equally remarkable, but frightening, military achievements in space.
  • Although the satellite programmes of the USA, USSR and China are surrounded by secrecy, it is possible to learn the launch dates and basic characteristics of all satellites launched. This information, together with estimates of shape, weight and payload, make it possible at least to conjecture, and frequently to determine, the purpose for which a particular satellite has been launched.
  • After discussion of orbital characteristics, which are essential to an understanding of the purpose of a satellite, the book describes each of the satellite types: reconnaissance satellites; communications satellites; navigation satellites; meteorological satellites; and interceptor/destructor satellites and FOBSs. For each type there are detailed appendices of the satellites which have been launched and their basic characteristics. The final chapter discusses the capability and effectiveness of satellites for verifying the implementation of arms-control agreements.

1. Introduction

2. Some basic concepts of orbital characteristics

3. Reconnaissance satellites 

Appendix 3A. Tables of photographic reconnaissance satellites

Appendix 3B. Tables of electronic reconnaissance satellites

Appendix 3C. Tables of ocean-surveillance satellites

Appendix 3D. Tables of early-warning satellites

4. Communications satellites

Appendix 4A. Tables of communications satellites

5. Navigation satellites

Appendix 5A. Tables of navigation satellites

6. Meteorological satellites

Appendix 6A. Tables of meteorological satellites

7. Geodetic satellites

Appendix 7A. Tables of geodetic satellites

8. Interceptor/destructor satellites and FOBSs

Appendix 8A. Tables of interceptor/destructor satellites and FOBSs

9. Conclusions