Spaceflight Insider

‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this…’ Space Wars might be just around the corner

Publicity art for "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd. / Disney

Publicity art for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd. / Disney

Excitement is building as Star Wars aficionados are already rushing the virtual box office to buy tickets for the Dec. 20 release of the long-anticipated final episode of the Star Wars saga, The Rise of Skywalker. But how close are those not in a galaxy “far, far away” away from experiencing actual wars in space?

In a recent edition of The Agenda with Steve Paiken Show, posted on YouTube, renowned futurist George Friedman, answers most unequivocally, “…of course!” Friedman stated that, “Wherever human beings go, there are wars. War is the most ubiquitous process that people have.” And in response to follow-up questions by the moderator, Friedman went on to explain that:

Futurist George Friedman. Photo: Twitter

Futurist George Friedman. Photo: Twitter

  • The question of whether the United States will militarize space is rather naive.  “We are already militarizing space and at an increasing rate.”
  • “Like in all previous wars of mankind, humans will fight” in the new military theater of space, but “also, robots, machines, and other things.”
  • Wars will, in a way, be “cleaner,” with “much lower human lethality, as the brunt of the battles will be machine to machine.”
  • “In the 20th Century, we reached the height of mass warfare … society against society.  In World War II, if you wanted to destroy a factory, you had to destroy a city.  Now, with precision-guided weapons, collateral damage decreases significantly, and effectiveness increases dramatically.”
  • “The United States has based its core military power in space.  Any county that goes to war with us knows that it has to destroy our space-based capabilities.” 
  • “Technological evolution, particularly in warfare is so striking that in a 50 year period you can’t recognize what will happen.  For example,
    • If in 1900, we described the 1950 Strategic Air Command, people would have thought it science fiction.
    • Likewise, if in 1950 we had described precision-guided munitions, people would have again concluded” that this was mere science fiction.
  • “Most major evolutions in our societies are based first in the military.  Microchips, for example, were developed to guide guided missiles.”

During the interview, Friedman cites his earlier milestone book, The Next 100 Years: a Forecast for the 21st Century.  Some space-related excerpts from that book:

  • “The most expensive part of space is the launch … constantly launching people into space will not be economical.  Basing them in space and giving them the ability to intercept malfunctioning systems in orbit will become the norm.”
  • “By mid-century, orbiting repair stations at various altitudes will have been in space for twenty years, and over time they will take on more functions in relation to reconnaissance and warfighting operations – like the destruction of enemy satellites.”
  • “The Battle Star will be designed to be survivable.  It will be a large platform containing dozens or even hundreds of people to carry out its mission and maintain it.  … It will be loaded with sensor systems that will be able to see any approaching objects at extreme distances, and will be heavily ladened with projectiles and energy beams that could destroy anything that might threaten it.”
  • “Controlling the world’s oceans from space will be critical.  … But in the twenty-first century, control of the sea will be less dependent on oceangoing fleets than on space-based systems that will see enemy hips and target them.  Therefore, whoever controls space will control the sea.”
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the United States Air Force Space Command's AEHF-5 satellite lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. Photo Credit: Scott Schilke / SpaceFlight Insider

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the United States Air Force Space Command’s AEHF-5 satellite lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. Photo Credit: Scott Schilke / SpaceFlight Insider

Do other futurists agree with Friedman?  

In his just-released book The Shadow War, Jim Sciutto speculated on the nature of  space warfare and what might happen if America’s enemies decide to deploy their own space weapons.

“Russia has kamikaze satellites that can destroy U.S. satellites in orbit,” he told Salon. “China has ‘kidnapper’ satellites that could snatch them out of orbit. Why? Because our military and our civilian life is more advanced in space than anybody, but also more dependent on it.”  Sciutto continued, nothing, “Smart bombs aren’t smart without satellites. Drones don’t fly. We don’t have nuclear early warning without satellites…you have a whole host of ways to undermine and even paralyze the U.S. if you were to take away those space assets.” 

“We have those capabilities, but we haven’t deployed them to the degree that China and Russia [have]. And that’s a decision that has to be made: Is that the best deterrent? Or does that lead to a space arms race? That’s part of the calculation that has to be made today.” Sciutto noted.

The October 19, 2019, issue of the journal The Conversation reported that “…at an upcoming summit in early December, NATO is expected to declare space as a ‘warfighting domain’, partly in response to new developments in technology. If it does declare space a war zone, NATO could start using space weapons that can destroy satellites or incoming enemy missiles.”

Video courtesy of Star Wars’ YouTube channel

While experts, officials and agencies focus on the concerns of this potential new battlefield, the public appears to be more interested in seeing if Rey can stop Kylo Ren and the Emperor once and for all.

According to Atom Tickets,The Rise of Skywalker’s advanced ticket sales crushed the record set by Avengers : Endgame, by 45 percent and sits poised to ignite the holiday season like a lightsaber in the hands of a Sith lord. The Rise of Skywalker is the final installment of the epic franchise that began a long time ago -1977. 

You can watch the full interview below. The space-related comments can be found in the segment 14:54 to 19:53.

Video courtesy of The Steve Paikin Show







Jim Siegel comes from a business and engineering background, as well as a journalistic one. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, an MBA from the University of Michigan, and executive certificates from Northwestern University and Duke University. Jim got interested in journalism in 2002. As a resident of Celebration, FL, Disney’s planned community outside Orlando, he has written and performed photography extensively for the Celebration Independent and the Celebration News. He has also written for the Detroit News, the Indianapolis Star, and the Northwest Indiana Times (where he started his newspaper career at age 11 as a paperboy). Jim is well known around Celebration for his photography, and he recently published a book of his favorite Celebration scenes. Jim has covered the Kennedy Space Center since 2006. His experience has brought a unique perspective to his coverage of first, the space shuttle Program, and now the post-shuttle era, as US space exploration accelerates its dependence on commercial companies. He specializes in converting the often highly technical aspects of the space program into contexts that can be understood and appreciated by average Americans.

Reader Comments

Thank you, very good article. I would much prefer the USA build the first weapons platforms and stay in the lead with space weapons. Pretty sure the Chinese or Russians will not be as accommodating if they are there first.

and what might happen if America’s enemies

Thee only enemie on this world is you murica.
What you fought for was absolute degeneracy.

Bad day.

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