Spying from space - Anti-satellite developments

The United States is leading the way as the major military powers target satellites in the battle to gain superiority in space, says Tim Fish

The X-37B orbital test vehicle is an unmanned re-entry spacecraft. It can be seen here in an encapsulation cell at the Astrotech facility in April 2010, prior to its launch. The X-37B is currently on its sixth mission that started in May 2020

An undeclared arms race is underway in the space domain, where capabilities to neutralise or destroy satellite networks using antisatellite (ASAT) systems have been tested in recent years as a way of threatening rivals and to provide a deterrent against military action.

Many countries use satellites, but the US leads in terms of its reliance on spacebased assets to provide it with a wide range of defence capabilities. These include communications, surveillance, detection and tracking of ballistic missile launches and the navigation and guidance of precision-guided weapons, among others.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Enjoy the following subscriber only benefits:

  • Unlimited access to all KeyAero content
  • Exclusive in-depth articles and analysis, videos, quizzes added daily
  • A fully searchable archive – boasting hundreds of thousands of pieces of quality aviation content
  • Access to read all our leading aviation magazines online - meaning you can enjoy the likes of FlyPast, Aeroplane Monthly, AirForces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, Aviation News, Airports of the World, PC Pilot and Airliner World - as soon as they leave the editor’s desk.
  • Access on any device- anywhere, anytime
  • Choose from our offers below