The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Can Future Enemies be Deterred from Attacking U.S. Space Systems?

Deterrence and First-Strike Stability in Space: A Preliminary Assessment The RAND Corporation has just released a new monograph which calls for a coordinated space deterrence strategy. While space systems are playing a greater role in U.S. defense and commercial industries than ever before, the safety and vulnerability of those systems is a national security interest. As a growing number of potential adversaries attain the ability to attack these systems, the ability to deter such attacks becomes questionable. This monograph addresses the following questions: “Can future enemies be deterred from attacking U.S. space systems? To what degree is deterrence reliable, and under what circumstances might it fail? What can the United States do to fashion the most robust space deterrence regime and strengthen first-strike stability in space?” After beginning with a historical review of first-strike stability in space, it applies the principles of deterrence to space, identifies unique challenges, and illustrates the difficulty in deterring future adversaries. It concludes by offering a framework for a comprehensive national space deterrence strategy. While the new legislatively-mandated U.S. Space Posture Review is not yet complete, the unclassified U.S. National Space Policy from 2006 can be viewed here.