Scientific American says War in Space May Be Closer Than Ever
"For Krepon, the debate over the definitions of space weapons and the saber-rattling between Russia, China and the U.S. is unhelpfully eclipsing the more pressing issue of debris. ‘Everyone is talking about purposeful, man-made objects dedicated to warfighting in space, and it’s like we are back in the Cold War,’ Krepon says. ‘Meanwhile, there are about 20,000 weapons already up there in the form of debris. They’re not purposeful—they’re unguided. They’re not seeking out enemy satellites. They’re just whizzing around, doing what they do.’
The space environment, he says, must be protected as a global commons, similar to the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere. Space junk is very easy to make and very hard to clean up, so international efforts should focus on preventing its creation. Beyond the threat of deliberate destruction, the risk of accidental collisions and debris strikes will continue to grow as more nations launch and operate more satellites without rigorous international accountability and oversight. And as the chance of accidents increases, so too does the possibility of their being misinterpreted as deliberate, hostile actions in the high-tension cloak-and-dagger military struggle in space."