Weapons in space, the hypocritical way

Russia has been accused of hypocrisy by the United States and NATO, after its satellite destruction test reportedly created debris and panic in orbit.

If you have seen the movie Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, you are familiar with the problem. In fact, this recent event was exactly the plot of the movie, including such details as which country did the deed of taking down a satellite with a missile.

Some may even have been irked when Gravity came out, because back then the most recent offender in destroying satellites was China, yet the movie chose to cast Russia as the aggressor as is so often done in American media. Now, it seems, Russia has finally stepped up and played its movie role for real.

The blame game

Of course, Russia rejected claims that the debris created in the test endangered any space installation. Moreover, Russia pointed to similar satellite destruction tests by the US, China and India. Both sides accused each other of hypocrisy, with the US saying Russia's actions directly contradict its words.

When it comes to hypocrisy at this moment, Russia may be somewhat guiltier than America, and so too could be the Chinese when it comes to their activity in space. For something to be hypocritical, one's words have to contradict one's actions. Russia and China have steadfastly stated that they oppose the weaponisation of space. They may be using a narrow definition, speaking of the stationing of weapon systems in orbit rather than the temporary course of projectiles through space, but to send weapons into space to blow things up is certainly not conducive to preventing the weaponisation of space.

It is the presence of ICBMs, which move at such high altitude that they enter into space, that motivated the desire of the US to weaponise space in the first place, dating even back to the 1980s. Since the US has openly created the Space Force as a branch of its military, and declared space to be a war-fighting domain, the US is not breaking its word when it carries out military activity in space. It is doing exactly as it promises. The Russians and Chinese, however, are playing a diplomatic stalling game in which they likely intend to shame American advances in military space technology.

Warfare inevitably advances

The Russian and Chinese position is roughly equivalent to the Spartans decrying the Athenian use of arrows. Complaining about the other side's developments as being unsportsmanlike, appealing to arbitrary definitions and rules about what constitutes the right and proper way to kill people and blow things up, is unavailing in the end. It could also be deterring huge strides in technological development that could ultimately save humanity itself if we eventually come to depend on space colonies to escape disasters on Earth.

Russia can blow up whatever it wants to blow up, but there is no point in Russia crying foul about the other side coveting powerful technologies that could accomplish military supremacy. Russia has very capable engineers of its own and has surpassed the United States in some areas, such as hypersonic missiles. So, too, has China. This should teach these countries that the answer is not to complain about American advances, but to make advances of their own.

Every breakthrough in space is good

At the end of the day, enemies or not, we are all human, and it is in the human interest to fully exploit space for every benefit to our security and colonise the other planets of the Solar System. The stumbling block to this has been funding, and if one organisation on Earth is not short of funding, it is the US Department of Defense.

This is not a call for American conquest of the Solar System, but an acknowledgment that someone has to start the process and it would be wrong to simply stall them.