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Deterrence 2035 - The Role of Transparency and Diversity in a World of Nanosats

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Technical Report

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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The year is 2035 an international company employs a debris removal satellite system. Since 2010, the advances in technology enabled the development of applications such as autonomous satellite repositioning, life extension or tugboats that attach and supplement standard propulsion, spacecraft navigation and guidance, satellite refueling, debris removal, repair and salvage and in-orbit assembly. In the case of debris removal or mitigation, a satellite executes an autonomous rendezvous with the target, deploys a robotic grappling arm and places the debris in a canister for deorbiting which lands at a predetermined terrestrial site for recycling. But what happens when the target is not debris but a commercial or military satellite How does one determine if the action was an accident or intentional This example highlights the fact that any technology can have a dual, even nefarious, use in the medium of space, it can become a system that threatens national security. Current developments in the field of nanotechnology are creating pathways for spacecraft to become smaller, lighter, and ultimately affordable. In essence shaping tomorrows threat.

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