President Trump’s U.S. Space Force is constantly under attack, from critics both foreign and domestic, as a giant step toward supposedly violating long-standing international norms and treaties against “militarizing space.” Russia, China, and perpetual domestic critics of U.S. defense programs like the Arms Control Association, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Federation of American Scientists are particularly opposed to U.S. space-based missile defenses.
According to Beijing, Moscow, and their like-minded U.S. allies, it is OK to use space satellites for sensors, communications, and global positioning to support terrestrial military operations on land, sea, and air. It is also OK to launch nuclear-armed ballistic missiles and hypersonic warheads through space without being guilty of its “militarization.”
But to base defensive weapons in space capable of intercepting nuclear warheads would violate international norms, destabilize the principle of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), and ignite another costly and dangerous arms race for control of the “high frontier.” Or so it is argued not only by Russia, China, and the American Left but by enough officials in the U.S. Departments of State and Defense to thwart the near-term deployment of space-based missile defenses.