The Inherent Limitations of Spacepower: Fact or Fiction?
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL AIRPOWER RESEARCH INST
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Is American spacepower current subordinate position to terrestrial military powers-air, land, and sea-due to inherent limitations Spacepower today is limited in its ability to accomplish many military missions. Whether those limitations are predominantly inherent to the space environment or are self-imposed by the current US approach to space is the subject of this study. Following a clear definition of spacepower, three steps are taken in the analysis process. First, the relative importance of spacepower as it is generally regarded is discussed in relation to the other forms of military power. Historical analogy with the accession of airpower from the early twentieth century onward seems particularly appropriate. Terrestrial military theory and space theory are subsequently discussed from a historical context, leading to a discussion of current space doctrine, as it relates to spacepower current supporting military role. In the application of theory and doctrine, current technologies are considered as they demonstrate space capabilities beyond those presently fielded. Second, the physical attributes of space are examined to establish whether the medium has inherent physical limitations. Third, beyond physical limitations, the issue of inherent limitations due to a lack of military utility is addressed. Military power characteristics are discussed as they apply to 1 terrestrial power, 2 currently fielded space forces, and 3 space forces which are technologically feasible. The characteristics include strategic agility, ability to demonstrate commitment and credibility, and economic, military and political considerations. Conclusions and implications are discussed as they apply to the future potential of American spacepower. Depending on the findings, doctrinal implications exist to properly use spacepower-either as an adjunct force with terrestrial power,
- Space Warfare