“The vastness of space is a key factor in the war-form of the future”

Alvin & Heidi Toffler[1]


1. The Space has always been a matter of great interest to human race, which gazed and tried to explore this cosmic world for thousands of years. Even our own epics talk a lot about space and its utilisation. The space warfare is as old as Indian mythology. However, Science flourished during the European Renaissance and fundamental physical laws governing planetary motion were discovered, and the orbits of the planets around the Sun were calculated. The Chinese were the first to develop a rocket in around 1212 AD. In 1883, a Russian schoolmaster, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, first explained the mechanics of how a rocket could fly into space.[2]. In the 17th century, astronomers pointed a new device called the telescope at the heavens and made startling discoveries[3]. On 03 Oct 1942, German scientists launched an A-4 rocket, which travelled a distance of 190 km and reached an altitude of over 80 km. Orbital operations started with Soviet Sputnik-1 satellite in 1957[4]. Since then exploration and exploitation of the space has been a continued effort. This led to the unfolding of mysteries of the space world and thus using it for own advantages.

2. Military use of space started with the launch of an American reconnaissance satellite in 1960.[5] Since then, the utilisation of space has been a matter of debate and controversies as far as direct war fighting military roles and missions are concerned. However, the support operations like Intelligence, communication and reconnaissance, which came first, did not face much of resistance. The benefits possible from the space-based support operations were realised very quickly and these operations were extended further to surveillance, mapping, navigation, ground mapping, environmental monitoring etc. Space systems have brought better intelligence and stronger defences by enabling the collection of new types of data and information; significantly increasing communications capabilities and capacities; revolutionizing precision navigation and timing; enriching science; establishing new markets; providing safer air, land, and sea transportation; and enabling faster disaster relief as well as more effective civil planning[6].

3. The phenomenal utilization and exploitation of the space medium has finally provided the users the power to gain advantage over the enemy. Traditionally, power has been related to explosive ordinance and target destruction. But in the post-Cold War world, the "power" most often delivered by airmen has taken the form of humanitarian aid: food, medical supplies, and heavy equipment.[7] Also Knowledge is the purest form of power and is the reason that overhead surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence-gathering efforts are so important in both war and peace. Information delivered from above can be used to strengthen a friendly regime, discredit an enemy regime, or directly attack the morale of an adversary's frontline troops. They can detect missile launches, nuclear tests and they can provide secure real time communications all over the world. The resolution available with satellite reconnaissance is more than adequate for military needs. The accuracy of GPS is known to us all. In less hostile circumstances, the information might consist of humanitarian warnings about impending natural disasters or news about disaster-relief efforts[8]. The meteorological satellites provide accurate weather data from any part of the world. Thus in past few years, space-based systems have enabled dramatic improvement in military and intelligence operations thus enhancing its capability, accuracy and fire power. Thus the Space medium emerging as Space Power and the most effective and widely used force multiplier.


Statement Of Problem

4. To study and analyse the feasibility of Space Power to evolve as a frontline force multiplier for India and to critically examine the road ahead.

Justification Of Study

5. India's achievement in the field of space capability may not seem to be very advanced especially when compared with the accomplishments of the superpowers and elite members of the satellite club. However, one needs to look at the Indian space programme in isolation to fully understand the tremendous progress and achievements that have been made from such a humble beginning.

6. All the countries have developed launch vehicles as an offshoot of their ballistic missile projects, and their satellites were primarily intended for military use. Non- military applications were a spinoff of the military programmes, whereas India has developed space applications and launch vehicles for totally civilian use. The technology was also used within a broader framework to achieve socio-economic development, and military spin-offs have been incidental. Therefore, India has an inherent advantage as far as civilian support role is concerned however it needs special effort and attitude to develop military support application. Utilization of Space medium and Control of space based assets will be an important ingredient of future world power. President APJ Kalam has stated that accomplishments in space have traditionally been a barometer of international status, technological prowess and enhanced military capability. Rapid advancements in Information Technology, Internet and Communications are increasingly utilising space based assets. These assets play a decisive role in shaping the outcome of conflicts and are engines that drive economic growths. India and China are likely to be the economic powerhouses of the 21st Century. India is also emerging as a key balancer of Asian stability. By its combined military and space technology, India would be required to contain regional conflicts and prevent unscrupulous exploitation of the Indian Ocean region[9]. Therefore development of space power both for military and civilian use, especially as a force multiplier is must to climb up the pyramid of world power.

7. Perceptions determine actions. The military's perception of the air and space environment influences the type of space forces it will develop in the future[10]. In India's context which has belligerent neighbours, space based capabilities are the definite force multiplier. In fact, military strategist call space the new ‘High Ground'. Which will bring in revolutionary changes in military affairs. Therefore we need to decide the kind of space force which we need to develop to exploit Space medium to the maximum as a force multiplier to maintain edge in the region.


8. This study analyses the exploitation of Space Force as a force multiplier in the Indian Context.

Methods Of Data Collection

9. The information and data for this dissertation has been gathered through internet, various books, papers, journals and newspapers. In addition, lectures delivered by dignitaries at DSSC have been utilised to gather information. The bibliography of sources is appended at the end of the dissertation.

Organisation Of The Dissertation

10. It is proposed to study the subject in the following manner:-

(a) Chapter I Introduction and Methodology.

(b) Chapter II Understanding Space power.

(c) Chapter III Roles and Application of Space Power.

(d) Chapter IV Space Power as Force Multiplier.

(e) Chapter V Indian Capability and the Road Ahead.

(f) Chapter VI Recommendations and Conclusion.


The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right names.


1. Space has fascinated many thinkers, philosophers and Air Warriors equally for a long time. Many a researches and money has gone in exploring and exploiting space but still the concepts are not very clear to many of us. It is extremely important for us to have clear understanding of space before we can evaluate the role and utilization of space medium.


2. Space Space is void of substance, offers no protection from harmful radiation, and allows only the balance between thrust and gravity with which to maneuver.[11] Space begins where satellites can maintain orbit (81 miles) and extends to infinity.[12] Power is control or authority to influence; the ability to produce an act or event.[13] And Space power is a nation's ability to exploit and control the space medium to support and achieve national goals.[14]

3. Gravity The driving force behind all orbital dynamics is the force of gravity and is defined by the law of universal Gravitation given by Isaac Newton in 1687. It states “ Every particle in the universe attracts every other particle with a force that is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the particle”.[15]

4. Escape Velocity Satellites maintain orbit around a planet (Earth in our case) at a particular speed at a given height. If the speed is increased, the satellite goes into a higher orbit. Escape velocity is the speed at which the centrifugal force becomes greater than the pull of planetary gravity. The object would then cease to be an Earth-satellite, and start moving away from the earth. At 500 km the escape velocity is 10.8 km/sec.[16]

5. Satellite Inclination Every satellite orbits within a plane that passes through Earth's gravitational centre. The angle formed between the orbital plane of the satellite and the plane of the Earth's equator. BY convention, it is measured anticlockwise from the equator to the orbital plane at the point where the satellite crosses, passing to north[17]. Orbits with inclination at or closer to 90 degrees are known as ‘polar' orbits. ‘Equatorial' orbits are those in or very close to the plane of the equator. The rest, between these two limits, are ‘inclined' orbits. The combination of the satellite's own motion and that of the rotating planet beneath produces a ‘ground track' joining the successive points on the planet which fall directly beneath the satellite. The surface area of the planet in line-of-sight or direct communication with any satellite is a function of its altitude and ground track. In the lowest feasible orbits, the area that can be ‘seen' by satellite sensors is no more than that of one of Earth's larger cities.

6. Orbital Decay With a perfectly spherical planet of even density, no air resistance, and no minute gravitational pulls from neighbouring bodies (such as Sun, the Moon, and the other planets), a satellite would stay in orbit forever. In the real world these factors upset the balance of forces which sustains the orbit, which causes it to ‘decay', so that the satellite eventually falls to the Earth. For practical purposes, satellites which go below 300 km encounter air resistance serious enough to require intermittent use of on-board boosters to maintain their orbits.[18]

7. Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This orbit ranges from a height of 200 and 5000 km. Polar and highly inclined orbits are favoured for general reconnaissance missions since they give planet-wide coverage. The periods of such range between 90 minutes and a few hours.

8. Sun Synchronous orbit It is the orbit where in the satellite is used for surveillance at optical wave length and whose orbital motion will bring it periodically over the same area of interest at the same sunlight conditions from day to day. These orbital planes are called as Sun Synchronous orbit[19]. These are low earth orbits inclined at about 98°.

9. Semi-synchronous Orbit. This is circular orbit at 20,700 km with a period of 12 hours. The term is sometimes extended to all orbits between LEO and this orbit.

10. Molniya Orbit. This is a highly elliptical orbit, at an altitude of between 500 - 40000 km, with a 12 hour period. This orbit is most stable at an inclination of 63 degrees. (At other inclinations gravitational anomalies resulting from irregularities in the shape and density of the planet cause the major axis of such an orbit - the line joining the apogee and the perigee points - to rotate inconveniently.) This orbit was used by the Soviet Union to provide satellite spending 11 hours out of 12 hours above the northern hemisphere.[20]

11. Geostationary Satellite As the orbital height increases, so orbital period increases. If the orbital height increases to 35875km, the orbital period will be synchronised with the rotation rate of the Earth. Such a satellite would be called a geosynchronous satellite. If these satellite have zero degree of inclination such that these satellites will appear stationary in the sky over a point on the equator to an observer on earth. Such a satellite would be called a geostationary satellite[21]. This is a circular, equatorial orbit at an altitude of 35,700 km. With a period of 24 hours, such satellites appear to remain almost stationary above a fixed point over the equator. In practice, they sometimes describe a very small ‘ of eight' ground tracks about such a point. Three or more evenly spaced geostationary satellites can cover most of the planet, except the Polar Regions. These satellites are mainly used for communications or early warning of missiles. Geosynchronous Orbit has little military or other uses because of its large ‘ of eight' ground tracks, depending on its inclination. In military discussions the term ‘geostationary', is tending to be replaced by ‘geosynchronous', because the former is the limiting case of the latter. Even a small inclination causes a geostationary satellite to become a ‘strictly speaking' geosynchronous one. Military geostationary satellites may sometimes have a use for such a ground track, though seldom for the much wider, true geosynchronous orbit.[22]

12. Super-synchronous Orbit. The orbits above GEO have had little use so far, but offer many options for future military satellites taking refuge from ground based or LEO anti-satellites. Certain points of equilibrium between solar, lunar and terrestrial gravitation are especially interesting.[23]

(a) Near-Earth Orbit (NEO) or aerospace extends 50 to 200 kilometers above the Earth's surface, incorporating the mesosphere and the lower edge of the ionosphere in an intermediate region where aerodynamics and ballistics interact or succeed each other. In the short term, NEO will remain the primary location for the deployment of manned and unmanned military systems and probable major space industrialization facilities such as a manned space operations center (SOC)[24]. It is through this zone that ballistic missiles must proceed during and after their boost phase and are most vulnerable to antiballistic missile (ABM) systems. However, minimum long-range effects from nuclear explosions are found at altitudes between 50 and 150 kilometers: above 50 kilometers, the mechanical effects of shockwave pressures almost disappear as a consequence of the relatively low air density; below 150 kilometers, the air density is still high enough to reduce the range of corpuscular radiation through dispersion and absorption so that the long-range thermal effect is also not maximum.[25] Therefore, even very powerful nuclear devises in the megaton range must be detonated at relatively close proximity to their intended target at NEO to be effective, although electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effects could seriously disrupt unhardened electronic systems at long-range distances. Nevertheless, targets at NEO, compared to those at higher gravity well zones, are relatively vulnerable to Earth-based intervention because of an inherently short warning time available for the implementation of countermeasures and the minimal amount of energy that the enemy must expend to reach this zone. Conversely, a weapon system such as a fractional orbital bombardment system (FOBS) at NEO could attack targets on Earth with a minimum of warning[26].


(c) The cislunar zone consists of all space between NEO and Lunar Surface Orbit (LSO), including Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO). The cislunar zone provides military systems situated here the defensive option of a longer reaction time to implement countermeasures against Earth- or NEO-based intervention[27].


(e) LSO consists of the zone of space where the Moon orbits the Earth, including Near Lunar Orbit (NLO) or the space immediately surrounding the Moon.


(g) The translunar zone is comprised of the space from LSO to approximately one million kilometers from the Earth's surface, where the solar gravity well begins to predominate and includes the five Lagrangian points. These final zones will attain increasing military significance as the process of space industrialization evolves. Eventually the Moon and Lagrangian points could be used to dominate the entire Earth-Moon system.[28]

13. Outer Space In the denomination of legal material dealing with the space exploration and nearly the entire space law, the term 'outer space' is commonly used. But this term has not been defined to date with precision despite many attempts undertaken by jurists, International non-governmental and the United Nations bodies[29]. The difference between space and the outer space is generally not recognised. But the former term is wider than the latter and means the whole universe including the earth while outer space means all spaces other than the earth. In fact, outer space begins where the earth's atmosphere ends and extends on in all directions infinitely. The upper limit of the air space constitutes the lowest limit of outer space. The outer space in a broader sense also consists of the entire space beyond celestial bodies and their atmosphere. Celestial bodies include all land masses in space and their atmosphere except Earth. Therefore, air space is excluded from outer space. The difference between space and outer space is insignificant in so far as the exploration and use of such domain is concerned[30].

(h) The tactical space environment The tactical space environment of the Earth-Moon system can be conceptualized as a series of gravity well zones that are somewhat analogous to terrestrial hills, promontories, and mountains in that much effort and energy must be initially expended to situate forces in such locations. Once attained, however, these positions can be used to dominate the terrain below with relative ease. 1 illustrates in two-dimensional form the gravity well zones of the Earth-Moon system, which are in reality three dimensional spheres[31].


(j) During the next two decades, military space activities and the development of various commercial space enterprises (or "space industrialization") will be primarily restricted to this system. Possible military missions in this tactical environment include direct intervention on the Earth's surface form space, regulation of the flow of space traffic, protection of military and industrial space facilities, denial of strategic areas of space to others (such as choice satellite orbits at Geosynchronous Earth Orbit and the various Lagrangian points at which objects revolve with the same period as the gravitational Earth-Moon system and thus remain effectively stationary), and various surveillance, reconnaissance, navigation, command, control, and communication functions[32].


14. The space power being the latest addition to the force of a Nation, there is still a huge dilemma about its placement, its use whether military or civilian and also its control. Currently, a fully developed space power theory does not exist. USSPACECOM, recognizing the void, has commissioned Dr. Brian R. Sullivan as lead author to develop this theory.[33] Therefore there is requirement to develop a fully fledged theory and doctrine to guide the developed of space power straight from its infancy.

15. Space is the next great arena for exploration and exploitation. We are limited only by imagination to the wonders, challenges and excitement the next century will bring as far as space forces are concerned. Already, civil and commercial sectors have invested billions of dollars in space and the nation's military recognizes its role to protect these interests. The debate within the military on how to best exploit this new medium continues. But there is a need to go over few of the basic issues about Space Power to understand it clearly. The military's current view of the air and space environment seems to simultaneously focus on opposing relationships between the two mediums. Air and space represent two distinct realms and at the same time, they are difficult to separate because of their similarities. These two relationships exist simultaneously and come together to form the following organizational paradigm of the air and space environment: Space and the atmosphere represent two distinct medium environments physically different from each other; while at the same time, they are physically linked, and theoretically and historically tied.[34] There are few of these set of fundamental issues which require to be vetted if we are to understand space power with the kind of clarity with which we now understand air power and if we are to understand their nexus[35].

16. First of the issue, is regarding direct use of space as a Space power or weaponising of space to use it as a force itself. We must determine whether space power "apply great power quickly to any tangible target on the planet"? Many people would answer no to this question because of political restraints on weaponising space. Others would argue for an affirmative answer based on technical, if not political, feasibility. In either case, the question concerning the applicability of the essence remains assumed but undemonstrated. Or perhaps there exists a space power version of the essence that differs from all other military operations, including air power[36]. Also there are concerns regarding the future of space power and the kinds of military operations that are likely to migrate to space. Space may become another "battle space," or it may become only a home to military operations focussed on non-lethal activities in support of combat elsewhere. So the major concern is whether space will be used as direct source of force or will continued to be used as a force multiplier only.

17. Why does the military need a space force? The answers to this question shape military space force development by providing a sense of long-term direction, describing how such a force would serve national interests, and prescribing a force structure to fulfill that need. They are foundational answers that ultimately form the basis for space power theory and enable the military to articulate and justify reasons for a military space force. As the military more clearly articulates why space forces are needed, the better it is able to identify specific requirements necessary to achieve those forces. Thus, this question and the next are closely tied together[37].

18. What should the military do in space? The answers to this question bring the focus from broad to specific. They help formulate the functions and missions of a military space force, and provide the framework for establishing detailed force requirements. To summarize, the answers to the question of who establish the advocates for a military space force development. The answers to the questions of why and what together develop and identify long term direction, and offer short-term input to the resource allocation process.[38]

19. The next issue is to do with the control of space power. This will mainly emerge from our innovation, imagination and farsightedness. Air Power being the strongest contender of claiming the control of space, there is need to deeply study the relationship between Space power and Air Power. This relationship can be well understood only by defining and studying the relationship between space and Air. Who should lead and develop military space forces? This question addresses the need to focus on finding the best organization, or mix of organizations, to advocate a military space force. Military space advocates must be able to justify—on military grounds alone—the necessity of military forces in space. These organizations are the stewards that provide both administrative control over the forces that support military space power, and the war-fighting control of these forces during employment of that power. A space force advocate embraces and promotes the ideals for a military space force, and garners the support necessary to establish such a force[39].

Air and Space relationship

20. The defining characteristic of air power is an operational regime ele­vated above the earth's surface. Conceptually, space power would seem to be more of the same at a higher elevation. The term aerospace, coined in the late 1950s, echoes this same theme, as do official pronouncements such as "although there are physical differences between the atmosphere and space, there is no absolute boundary between them. The same basic military activities can be performed in each, albeit with different platforms and methods."[40] The move from earth to space transitsis through the air environment, thereby inherently bringing about a linkage as no space launch or recovery can take place without transiting through the air medium. Any differentiation between the two would be superficial and indefinable. In future, the air and space mediums would provide a seamless environment where Trans Atmospheric Vehicles (TAVs) and re-usable hypersonic vehicles could exploit it freely. In addition, with increased proliferation of Ballistic Missiles and development of potent nuclear warheads, there is a need to extend the current Air Defence capabilities to space to ensure that the threats emanating from the air and space environment can be effectively tackled.[41] While the physical borders between the land, sea and air are readily evident, the physical border between air and space is not as clear. The atmosphere gradually disappears and space gradually starts. Furthermore, from a physical point of view, earth's entire connection to space is through the atmosphere. Every movement into space begins with movement through air. Thus, from a physical point of view, space is linked with air.[42]

21. Conceptually thinking, we cannot easily ignore the vast differences between operations in the atmosphere and in space? Current military thought suggests that space is a medium separate and distinct from the atmosphere with physical characteristics unique enough that a barrier forms between the two. The atmosphere is a realm of substance offering the advantages of protection from radiation, thermal transfer of heat and the ability to produce and control lift and drag. These aspects of the air medium make it considerably different than the realm of space.[43] Space assets are differentiated from air platforms by being non-air breathing. Military force includes all of the civilian elements such as contractor support that are required to sustain air or space operations.[44]

22. It is difficult to analyse these and many more issues dealing with space without a general, overarching theory of space power. The task is made even more difficult by several other factors, such as the limited experience base in military space operations, the tight security classification concerning much of what goes on in space, and the thoroughly sub-divided responsibility for space operations. Thus, we have a conundrum-a jig-saw puzzle that will someday picture how space power fits or doesn't fit with air power. Solving the puzzle represents a major leadership challenge.[45] The answers to these questions will drive the future direction the military takes in space. Fundamentally influencing these answers is the military's organizationally held perceptions of the air and space environment itself. The military's view of this environment not only shapes the role the military sees for itself in space, but affects how it develops space forces necessary to support that role.[46]


Air and space power is a critical—and decisive—element in protecting our nation and deterring aggression. It will only remain so if we as professional airmen study, evaluate, and debate our capabilities and the environment of the future. Just as technology and world threat and opportunities change, so must our doctrine. We, each of us, must be the articulate and knowledgeable advocates of air and space power.

—General Michael E. Ryan


Victory smiles upon those who anticipate the changes in the character of war not upon those who wait to adapt themselves after the changes occur.

Guilio Douhet

2. Man has a compelling urge to explore, to discover and to try to go where no one has ever been before. As most of the Earth has already been explored and even though it is going to be there for a very long time, men have now turned to space exploration as their next objective.[47] Space has provided us with huge capability because of its reach and ubiquity. The roles and applications of Space range widely from direct military roles of using it as a platform to launch weapons or support role of enhancing the capabilities of human beings in both military and civil field. Thus as we race into the next decade, a new frontier seems to be opening up in space with vast potential for military, science and exploration activities. So far as the armed forces are concerned, the sensor like satellites would provide them with unheard-of capabilities in a large number of fields.[48]

3. Space power is becoming an in­creasingly important aspect of na­tional strength, but experts disagree about how best to develop its poten­tial. Like airpower, space power relies heavily upon advanced technology, but technology is useless unless space professionals apply it properly. Air Force leaders recognize that the service needs to nurture a team of highly dedicated space professionals who are prepared to exploit advanced technologies and operating concepts. Concern about the fu­ture direction of military activities in space has spurred debate over which technologies to produce and how best to develop space professionals. Moral, theoretical, and doc­trinal questions also loom large. Underlying all of these considerations are political and diplomatic factors[49].

4. Supporting Role Today, space power pro­vides supporting functions such as commu­nications, reconnaissance, and navigation by global positioning system (GPS) satellites. By the end of 1999, at least 2300 military oriented satellites had already been launched. The functions of military satellites, which constitute about 75% of all satellites orbited, ranged from navigation, communications, meteorological and reconnaissance[50]. New technologies move large amounts of data around the world at the speed of light. Al-though a century ago people would have con­sidered such feats science fiction, modern space capabilities make these and so many more things, reality. Space power has transformed our society and our military. Today, at the outset of the twenty-first century, we simply cannot live—or fight and win—without it. Operation Desert Storm is considered as the first space war, however the supporting role of space like providing near real time data from communication and meteorological satellites, was present during the war in Vietnam also. The Gulf War of 1991, however, was the “first conflict in history to make comprehensive use of space systems support.” [51] The support provided by the space based operations has enhanced the military capabilities drastically such that these operations have become inseparable part of every military operation. Some of these roles have been described as under:

(a) Communication Satellites Communicating with deployed forces has always presented the military commanders with a problem. This is especially true in today's fast moving world when troops may have to be deployed anywhere in the world at a very short notice. The orbit used by communication satellite is the geostationary orbit. Three of these satellites will theoretically cover whole of the earth. In practice it will cover regions below latitudes 70° north or south. Molniya orbits are required for these regions. For covert communication, lower orbits are used because of their lesser coverage area. Frequencies used fall into three bands; UHF( 300 Mhz- 3GHz), SHF( 3-30 GHz) and EHF( 30-300 GHz). World's first geostationary defence communication satellite was British, Skynet-1, launched in Nov 1969 and placed over Indian ocean to provide strategic communications between UK and the middle and far east. Since then satellites are being used extensively in this field. Satellite communication offers a number of advantages. They have far longer ranges, they are reliable, quality of transmission is independent of distance between the terminals; they have greater capacity and wider bandwidth. All these advantages make it the backbone of future communication. Further development and improvement in space based communication will be through laser. This additionally provides two significant advantages. First, the incredibly high frequencies at which they operate allow extremely fast data transmission rates to be used and secondly, it will be difficult to intercept and disrupt[52]. Modern military communication satellites are playing an increasing role in linking an ever widening range of earth bound users.[53] Thus space based communication systems have become the integral part of every military and even non- military operation.

(b) Navigation Satellites Satellites are being used for precise navigation. Even a small number of satellite systems could give full earth coverage and the fix accuracy could be kept high by using line of sight of higher frequencies. The navigation satellites therefore offers a possibility of providing a very accurate, global, all weather navigation service for both the military and civilian users. Systems like Sikada and Transit represent the first generation of satellite navigation systems, giving a non-continuous service for slow moving platforms. The second generation systems like Navstar GPS and GLONASS has revolutionised the navigation system. GPS accuracy is so high that it has enhanced not only the navigation but also many aspects of military operating where navigation accuracy will contribute to mission success. The system will no doubt be improved and refined for some years to come. The drawback being that the system can be degraded by US Military authorities as the system is being controlled by them.[54] The advantage of the system for both military and civil use was so high that many more similar navigation systems are being launched to break USA's monopoly in this field. India is also actively participating in this endeavour to develop an independent navigation system.

(c) Meteorological Satellites Weather has always affected the outcome of battles. A military commander can use the knowledge of predicted weather to both utilise his resources to their maximum effect and to deny enemy the full use of his asset. Such satellites are invaluable in their ability to provide high quality weather information over whole of the earth's surface. Today's met satellites are able to provide much more than conventional weather prediction like sea surface temperature, position of sea fronts, the formation of ice, position of icebergs etc[55].It has a lot to offer for both the military and civil use especially disaster warning and relief ops. Prediction of weather has become much more accurate and precise by the utilisation of space based satellites.

(d) Ocean reconnaissance satellites can carry side-ways looking radars to enable them to locate ships and take other maritime measurements in all weather, and at all times of the day. Very precise satellite radars, using ‘synthetic aperture' techniques, may shortly be able to measure the level of the sea so accurately that they would be able to detect passage of a submarine beneath it in some areas.[56] The most commonly used sensor in satellites is the camera. The photo reconnaissance cameras on satellites are sensitive to EM radiation with a wave length of between 0.004 mm to 0.007 mm and in the IR region of wave length between 0.3 mm and 3000 mm.[57] Such a military utilisation of space asset is definitely a force multiplier for any kind of campaign or operation.

(e) Surveillance Military surveillance is no doubt the most important use to which the satellites have ever been put. After Gary Powers U2 aircraft was shot down by the Soviets in 1960, surveillance satellites provided the only accurate means by which the west could gather information for targeting ICBMs. More recently cruise missiles have been developed whose navigation system contain detailed profile of the terrain over selected parts of the route to their targets. These can be gathered covertly from space.[58] Photo reconnaissance satellites are the most important of reconnaissance satellites especially during peace time, and for monitoring conflicts around the world. Of all the satellites by China, USA and the erstwhile Soviet Union, about 40% have been used for photographic reconnaissance from LEO[59]. Orbiting at altitudes as low as 200 km, some of these photo reconnaissance satellites are thought to resolve details smaller than 30 cm.[60] The Soviet satellites have a life span of between two weeks and two months. Until the early eighties their films were recovered only when the satellite was brought down, using re-entry trajectory and parachutes. Since they orbit below 200 km at their lowest point, they need regular boosting from on-board rockets to maintain orbit. It is believed that the digital film scanning and transmission is being used by the Russians now. In comparison the American LEO satellites have longer life spans than those of their Soviet counter-part. They are known to have been in orbit for several months and can return film capsules to earth by ejecting them over sea (near Hawaii). These are either caught by aircraft or picked up by a back up ship. Latest technologies permit photographs to be developed and scanned on board the satellite and the information relayed back to ground stations immediately by use of radio signals. Further improvement in technologies will lead to real time intelligence available to the ground based forces.

(f) Satellite aided Search and rescue Use of satellites for SAR was conceived in mid 1970s which has now come to fruition in the COSPAS/SARSAT system. The system is a truly remarkable international effort whose aim is to use the high vantage point of space to give a more reliable coverage for emergency beacons on a global basis. The Americans listens on 121.5, 243 and 406 MHz and Soviets listens on 122.5 and 406 Mhz. The location of the beacon can be calculated by monitoring he observed frequency shift of the emergency transmission as the satellite passes over the beacon. The system is capable of achieving a locating accuracy of 20 km in 68 percent of cases and within 30 Km on 80% of occasions at these frequencies. 406 MHz frequency was chosen for SARSAT to provide much more accuracy. It can be fixed within better than 5Km on 95 % of occasions.[61] Satellite based SAR is in use at most of the countries and is the most reliable and fastest means of search and rescue.

(g) Geodetic Satellite It is a satellite which studies the physical nature of the earth and thus assists in mapping the earth. Satellite laser ranging and radar altimetry have helped in ascertaining the pattern of earth's gravitational potential. It is also being used for mapping the natural resources.

5. Space based equipment are being increasingly used for both the civil and military support roles to enhance the capabilities of humans on ground. The future trend is to move towards the real time collection of data from space, not only for optical intelligence but from all parts of electromagnetic spectrum. The advent of relay satellites further enhances the capability of surveillance satellites wherein control station need not come in line of sight of data collecting satellites for the transfer.

6. Active Military Application Active space based military operation is also on the rise despite the treaties and laws. Space operations play an increasing role in the provision of near real time information to commanders at all levels. Existing capability is further enhanced with the ability to deploy mini-satellites from the Common Aerospace Vehicle (CAV). The well-understood concepts of protecting conventional intelligence gathering assets and denying the enemy use of his vehicles will extend to space resulting in an inevitable militarization of the last frontier.[62] The need to protect one's own space assets, and if necessary attack those of the bad guy, will equally inevitably move the war in the air into space. The USAF already has an F15-borne anti-satellite system. Other potential systems include a co-orbital satellite equipped with an explosive warhead or anti-satellite mines.[63] For every offensive system deployed, a potential adversary whose finances permit this sort of warfare would have to field a defensive mechanism. This level of Star Wars may be beyond most nations. But the scope for information operations should not be underestimated - particularly against commercial satellites the performance information for which is readily available on the Internet. The only underline statement to remember is that these capabilities and weapons are beyond most nations economic and technological might.

7. Space can be defined as the new battlefield after Land, Sea and Air. It is the final frontier or final goal, which every one desires to conquer or reach. Space is fast emerging as not only the new ‘Economic High Ground' but also as the new military frontier of becoming a new ‘Strategic High Ground'.[64] Today, the military use of space is still at a relatively preliminary stage, but certain rapidly developing technologies are making very probable the realization of some aspects of the militarization of space that were foreseen by these earlier visionaries. These technological developments may well augur the beginnings of a great revolution in the history of warfare.[65] The active utilisation of space for military function mainly consists of defensive operations against enemy ballistic missile system or safeguarding own satellite system. However, offensive use in terms of ASAT weapons is also a reality. Even though there are treaties and laws against weaponisation of space, still the same cannot be overlooked. Some of the active military use of space based assets are given as under:-

(a) Early warning satellites are equipped with infra-red detectors which can detect an ICBM, thereby providing the threatened country with a 30 minute warning. The United States has three geostationary early warning Defence Support Programme (DSP) satellites. One watches the Russian ICBM fields and the other two the Pacific and Atlantic oceans for SLBM attacks. For geographical reasons, GEO was less attractive to the Soviet Union, and therefore they launched their early warning satellites in Molniya orbits. Complete coverage was obtained by a constellation of nine satellites, with shorter life spans than their American counter-parts. By ensuring the virtual impossibility of a surprise missile attack ‘out of the blue', early warning satellites may be regarded as playing a stabilising role during peace time. These satellites have a dual character since during peace time they can help monitor the Limited Test Ban and Non-Proliferation Treaties by watching for above ground nuclear tests. The Unites States launched six successive pairs of super-synchronous Vela satellites for this purpose between 1963 and 1970. Designed at first to operate for only six months, the first three pairs exceeded this limit by enormous margins, often working for nearly than 10 years.

(b) Anti Satellite Weapons Weaponisation of space is most markedly visible with the building of Anti Satellite Weapons. According to an estimate, a total of 20 ASAT weapons, tests were carried out by then Soviet Union between 1968 and June 1982.[66] Following the launch of Sputnik by the Soviets in 1957, both the super powers recognised the value of satellites and the potential threat posed to national security by the others craft. Consequently, both the sides started developing ASAT weapons as satellites make splendid target. [67] Of late China has also proved its prowess of building and testing ASAT weapons. The building and testing of ASAT weapons can be regarded as Weaponisation of space although at much lower grade. Thus we can assume that Weaponisation of space is continuing although the ‘outer space treaty of 1967' prohibits the same.

(c) Ballistic Missile Defence During cold war era both the superpower had developed ballistic missile carrying both nuclear and non nuclear warheads. It was obvious on both the sides to build defences against such missiles. Both the sides produced ground based high acceleration missile designed to destroy incoming ballistic missile warhead in the later stages of their trajectory. These weapons were greatly dependent upon the space satellites. There are many concepts of space based BMD system. Some of the these have been discussed as under

(i) Chemical Rockets The most mature of all weapon technologies for ABM purposes is that of chemical Rockets. The essential principle remains the same as ASAT but in the earlier days the missile control and guidance were less precise and needed a very large warhead with a large radius of effect to take account of the overall system accuracy. But it can also go against the interest of the defender because a nuclear warhead can have a disastrous effect on communication radar and other unprotected electronic equipment. Thus these kinds of weapons took a backseat.

(ii) Electromagnetic Railgun It makes use of the electromagnetic acceleration of projectiles to very high velocities with a development known as EMR. The projectiles may be of few grams but they possess great destructive capability with their high kinetic energy. Much development is still needed to produce rail guns capable of withstanding rapid rates of fire and to provide the very high power generation and power storage devices.

(iii) Lasers Lasers are the next weapons of ballistic missile defence. A lot has been done in this field to utilise it as an effective means of neutralising ballistic missiles. Interest in utilizing space-based lasers (SBLs) for ballistic missile defence (BMD) arose when two facts emerged. First, ballistic missiles are relatively fragile and do not resist laser energy and secondly, chemical lasers could project missile killing amounts of energy over 3,000 kilometres. These two facts peaked political interest over the possibility of placing laser weapons in space. Another advantage of SBLs is that these laser intercept ballistic missiles in their boost phase, thus dropping disabled missiles on an enemy's own territory. Laser energy can damage missile boosters if the laser has a moderate intensity combined with a sustained dwell time on the booster, the laser will then burn through the missile skin.[68] SBLs would be located on satellites placed in low-earth orbit. The type of orbit would depend on the nature of the threat. A satellite's orbital altitude is an important factor since it must place the laser, as frequently as possible, in a position where it can destroy the largest number of missiles in their boost phase. The optimum configuration would be a number of orbital planes inclined about 70o to the equator.[69] Thus Space based lasers are the most opted solution against Ballistic missiles however a lot has to done in this field to master the technology and the expertise.

(d) DEWs have an advantage over interceptor missiles with high explosive warheads for BMD in those destructive amounts of energy can be transmitted to the target at the speed of light. Consequently, only laser weapons are currently capable of intercepting an intercontinental ballistic missile during the boost phase of its flight. One disadvantage of laser weapons vice conventional interceptors is that the beam must hit the target, which at long range raises serious target acquisition and tracking problems. Whereas, with a conventional warhead a kill could occur if the warhead blast is sufficiently close to the target missile.

8. The roles and application of Space includes both the supportive role, which works as a force multiplier for the military activities, and the direct military roles which will emerge from Weaponisation of space. Presently, direct military use of space has a long way to go and requires great amount of funding and technological prowess. Additionally, because of the end of cold war and emergence of unipolar world, weaponisation of space has further taken a back seat. However the supportive role of space asset is on the rise and is being used as a universal force multiplier in every military/civil operation.


"Mankind will not remain for ever on earth, but, in a quest for light and space, will, had first timidly, penetrate the atmosphere and later conquer the whole of the solar system."

-Founder of Erstwhile Soviet Space Engineering, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1903.


1. When Britain dominated the seas, it ruled the world. The Americans have been leaders of the free world ever since they gained superiority in the air. Now the dominating position will belong to those who gain supremacy in outer space.[70] Today, events unfold before our eyes around the world as if we were there. We have advance warning of adverse weather as it develops. We can communicate with people 10 or 10,000 miles away with equal ease, and a small re­ceiver tells us our exact position and how fast we are moving in the air, on land, or at sea. Man has sought to enhance his military aims on Earth by deploying a number of types of satellite, including navigation, communications, weather, geodetic, reconnaissance and early warning satellites.[71] Artificial earth satellites, space probes, sounding rockets, and manned spacecraft have been used to explore the physical conditions in space, on stars, and all planets and their moons. Such scientific prowess in the use of outer space, however, has been by and large overshadowed by the more aggressive uses of the environment: that is the military uses. The latter uses basically fall into two categories: the use of satellites- military satellites- to enhance the performance of weapons on earth and the development of space weapons to counter such spacecraft and missiles and their nuclear warheads travelling towards their targets.[72] Both these categories have been discussed adequately in the previous chapter, the first of the category is discussed as support roles and the second one as Active military application.

2. Today, military satellite technology has developed from its early, tentative attempts to exploit the new medium of space to the point where space based systems have irreversibly superseded their ground based counterparts in many areas. The dependence, now placed on the satellites has stemmed from the fact that these space based systems can accomplish their mission in a technically superior manner and more economically than could be achieved by any other means[73]. Space Power has emerged as a force multiplier. Force multiplier is the capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment. Space power has provided this kind of capability to each and every aspect of military operation from bombing to navigation to communication capabilities.

3. Blind bombing - using the global positioning system with what we called dumb bombs was seen both in Gulf war and also carried out during the Kargil war. Iron bombs with no electronic guidance in them were dropped with extremely good precision with the global positioning system. By using this technique of simply putting a global positioning system satellite receiver on an airplane we can convert the ordinary dumb bomb to weapons with accuracy of smart weapons or precision guided munitions. This is the kind of advantage which is provided by space based asset; therefore this kind of leverage enjoyed by military is called as 'force multiplier'. It can literally multiply the value of a given set of weapons. This kind of force multiplication has been achieved by increasing the accuracy and guidance of weapons by space based assets. Military satellites contribute considerably to the accuracy with which nuclear as well as non-nuclear weapons can be navigated to their targets.

4. Communications satellites provide better centralised command and control of forces. Satellites in orbit today can provide communication links to troops in the field, enabling them to talk directly to their heads of state or national commanders. Today, 75% of the communications of the US for military proposes are via communication satellites.[74] India is also increasingly participating in operations and exercises worldwide. Satellite communication facility is extremely important and advantageous for India especially to project itself as world power. India has placed a great importance to this capability especially because of her huge size and the need to reach the remotest part of the country. India's space program was started and based mainly on achieving this capability.

5. Geodetic and reconnaissance satellites help to determine the position of potential targets with great precision. The latter type of satellites are used to determine the characteristics of targets as well and, hence, they have played an important role in monitoring compliance with the terms of a number of arms control agreements.[75] Reconnaissance satellite can not only find enemy location, looking beneath his camouflage but also listen to his communication identify and locate radars and much more. According to Americans, one reconnaissance satellites operating from a distance of 400 kilometres can survey an area of approximately hundred million square kilometres; a satellite can keep under surveillance up to 30% of worlds total land area. So reconnaissance satellites were regarded as the primary means of discovering military installations in the potential enemy territory and in the oceans.[76] Deception will be out of place because of an adversary's ability for all-weather surveillance. On the other hand, effective surprise will still be possible due to long range of missiles, electronic deception and the ability with hyper-mobile transport to complete deployment in hours instead of days and weeks now needed to do so.[77]Indian has also stepped forward in this field and building up indigenous capability especially in the light of belligerent neighbours. In today's world, information is the prime means of achieving advantage at war, therefore this capability is a definite force multiplier.

6. Navigation satellites are the most widely and commonly used spaced based facility especially the navigation satellites like GPS and GLONASS. This provides phenomenal capabilities in improving navigation, fixing accurate position, expediting SAR and many more. It finds massive use in civil transportation system thus improving the capabilities of the system tremendously. As far as military applications are concerned, they are endless. From cruise missiles, to navigation systems to blind bombing technique, GPS will find its place. This also allows a military commander to fix his location on the globe and to navigate with only few meters of error, conferring unprecedented accuracy to his weapons systems. Thus Space based navigation systems are the force multipliers beyond doubt.

7. Weather Satellites are being used to predict weather conditions which not only facilitates bombing but also contributes to improve accuracy by constantly refining the missile trajectory through the atmosphere. These satellites can provide accurate and timely information regarding weather to be found enabling tactics to be adapted to make the most of these weather conditions. Consequently, timely intelligence regarding weather, properly exploited by the correct choice of tactics, can reasonably be called a force multiplier.

8. A look at the space powers activities and their arsenals reveals that, satellites have already become the backbone for reconnaissance and surveillance (of events on ground and sea), intelligence, electronics, global communications, early warning of long-range missile attacks, navigation and also anti-satellite warfare systems. It can be truly said that the war, hot or cold, waged upon or within the other dimensions of land, sea or air, has now spread to the fourth dimension- Space.[78] Man's military ambition has extended his armed activities from land to the high seas, into the air and more recently beyond into outer space.

9. The capabilities of providing communication, missile warning, Navigation and surveillance 24 hours a day allows space forces to directly impact combat operations at the global, theatre, and local levels simultaneously.[79] It has emerged as the joint force multiplier and operations enabler.

10. The space medium is the ultimate high ground, with unparalleled speed, range, altitude, and stealth. The twenty-first-century information age, the global information grid, information technology, and network-centric warfare all depend on real-time global collection and dissemination of information, often only possible from space systems. The informational and military instruments of national power are closely linked. Information operations, information warfare, and information-in-war likewise depend on robust space platforms and illustrate that “bullets win battles; information wins wars.” Space systems are one of the main pipelines for network-centricity, powering digital networks to distribute information instantly without borders. Satellite communications (SATCOM) provides real-time, secure, jam-resistant C2 to enable diplomatic actions among nations. Space systems support or disrupt a nation's economy by moving large data streams at the speed of light around the world, reshaping national economies with global connectivity (SATCOM, weather, navigation, environmental, scientific, etc.).[80]

11. For the times to come space power will continue to be used as a force multiplier and the platform for launching weapons. The direct use of space as offensive platform is still a long drawn dream especially because of the emergence of unipolar world. Presuming that no other nation acquires both the resources and the strategic imperative to field space-based weapons, there is a likelihood that the predominant military use of near-earth space will remain force enhancement through 2020-25 rather than becoming an actual battleground. [81] There will be increased automation in the conduct of conventional wars with space assets assisting in locating, fixing and detecting enemy targets and their engagement with appropriate weapons[82].


If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
- Sun Tzu


1. India has been continuously striving to excel in every sphere of human life, be it social, political, economic and military, arts, culture or science. Since the advent of economic reforms in the early nineties, the country has achieved remarkable economic growth and sincere governmental efforts are on in partnership with the private sector to accelerate and sustain the growth momentum[83]. The Government of India has always placed considerable importance on the achievement of technological self reliance at an early date. The Scientific Policy Resolution adopted by the Indian parliament in 1958 reveals the spirit of this endeavour. It assumes that adoption of scientific approach and use of scientific knowledge is essential for providing "reasonable material and cultural amenities and services for every member of the community", and it is aimed at securing for the people "all benefits that can accrue from acquisition and application of scientific knowledge". This objective necessitated the establishment of a strong scientific and technological base, and a modest infrastructure in nuclear, space, electronics and other fields. This was essential not only for economic development but also for national integration and security. The space programme was an important component of this endeavour. The major goals set for the programme included socio-economic development through applications in areas of telecommunications, weather forecasting and remote sensing, and the appropriate technology had to be developed indigenously as required.

2. While a lot of attention in the last few years has focused on China's growing space program, including its human spaceflight efforts and lunar exploration program, India is hardly standing still in space, either. Once a small space program focused on providing specific services for the country, such as communications and imagery, India's space program is branching out into new fields, including satellite navigation and space science. India has also recently indicated that it is revisiting its previous opposition to a human spaceflight program, and is already taking steps towards developing the technology needed for such missions.

3. India's space program date back to almost five decades. It was in Aug 1961 that the Government of India allocated the subject of space research to the Department of Atomic Energy. The Indian government established the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962 to conduct sounding rocket research, under the chairmanship of Dr Vikram Sarabhai. It set up a range for sounding rockets at Thumba, near Trivandrum and this became operational in Nov 1963 with the launch of a US sounding rocket. This marked the humble beginning of the Indian space programme. The increased requirement for research and development led to the establishment of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at Bangalore. Increased scope and higher goals necessitated a separate administrative structure, and thus in 1972 the Space Commission and Department of Space was formed. The importance given to the space programme is evident since responsibility for the Department of Science and Technology, of which the Department of Space is a part, has always been held by the Prime Minister. By 1975 ISRO launched its first satellite, Aryabhata, on a Soviet rocket. India's first indigenously-built orbital launch vehicle, the SLV-3, successfully put a satellite in orbit in 1980. The main focus of Indian space research was on communication satellites to provide critical services, including telemedicine and distance learning, to many parts of the nation that had little existing communications infrastructure; meteorology payloads to improve weather forecasting; and remote sensing satellites to identify and map the nation's natural resources. From a very humble beginning in 1961 to the present day, India has built up its own domestic space infra structure, the government has shown a willingness to move beyond communications and remote sensing applications. India is a partner in Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system currently under development, and has agreed to work with Russia to repopulate its GLONASS navigation system. In addition, ISRO has announced plans to develop its own regional satellite navigation system, building the satellites, ground stations, and receivers all within India. ISRO has also successfully sent a first planetary science mission, the Chandrayaan-1 and now planning for human visit. The spacecraft is not intended to be a one-time mission, as the “1” designation after its name suggests: other science missions to the Moon and even Mars are in the early planning stages. [84]. India has ramping up its space capabilities in an effort to be seen as a major global space power. That is why It is moving beyond its traditional missions of developing communications and remote sensing satellites to focus on new areas, like navigation. It has attracted the attention of the United States as a potential partner in space endeavors, despite a history of rocky relations[85].

4. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has awarded a new $82 million contract to Raytheon Company to modernize the Indian air navigation system. Raytheon will build the ground stations for the GPS-Aided Geosynchronous Augmented Navigation System (GAGAN), and the Indian Space Research Organization will provide the space segment and additional ground equipment. GAGAN will provide satellite-based navigation for civil aviation over Indian airspace and adjoining areas in south and east Asia. The Indian satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) is expected to bridge the gap between the European EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) and the Japanese MSAS (MTSAT Satellite-Based Augmentation System) to provide seamless navigation of aircraft across a wide portion of the Earth. Raytheon will continue the work it began several years ago and expects to have the GAGAN system fully functional by 2013. Raytheon offers a broad range of automation and surveillance systems in use today in more than 50 countries around the world. The company developed the Federal Aviation Administration's GPS Wide Area Augmentation System and was engaged in the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau's Multi-Function Transport Satellite Augmentation System. Our GAGAN solution addresses the four essential elements of safe air navigation: accuracy, integrity, availability and continuity,” said Fritz Treyz, director of business development for Raytheon Network Centric Systems who led the Raytheon team pursuing the GAGAN initiative[86].

5. India also has the vision of developing some of the active military applications based on space assets. The control of space will determine the leader of the future world and India does not want to lag behind especially so when China is posing a serious threat to India's progress in general and Space program in specific. Satish Dhawan ex-director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, in a lecture to Astronautical Society of India in 1996, presented a techno-scenario diagram in which he talked about Kinetic Attack Loitering Interceptor (KALI), Directionally Unrestricted Ray-Gun Array (DURGA) and Aerobic Vehicle for Advanced Trans-Atmospheric Research (AVATAR) being deployed as dual use systems by the year 2010.[87]

6. The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in India is in the final stages of assembling a powerful electron accelerating machine named ''Kali-5000 (kilo-ampere linear injector)” which, its scientists say, can potentially be used as a beam weapon[88]. This will be an answer to China's ASAT weapon systems which was tested some time back and also it will be used to destroy those satellites, which are posing a threat or are just sneaking around in space over a country with dubious intentions. Such systems have become necessary and the concepts which are being kept in view while designing such systems should be of interest to the emerging space powers like India as they would be thinking in the same terms within the next decade.[89] India should design ASAT systems to attack the strategic space systems which may be part of nuclear weapon systems. Further, space is considered a strategic area which is vital for military, commercial and scientific programmes. And India as an emerging space power certainly would like free entry without any restrictions whatsoever.[90]

7. Aeronautics and aerospace are important technologies that have the capacity to take India into the league of developed countries.[91] With the successful launch of GSLV and PSLV, and all the progress India has made in the field of space research and development shows its prowess as a space power. The scientists have done their job. It is now for the military community to cause integration of our defence forces with space technology[92]. Western technology controls can delay and impede the development of the Indian space programme, but it can never stop it. In another decade or two India will emerge as a space power with adequate technological infrastructure to undertake design and development of any kind of satellites and launch vehicles. The country would have the ability to undertake commercial launches of geo-stationary satellites and, if it desires, could easily exploit the military fall-outs of this expertise.

12. Space medium has emerged as the ultimate high ground; the control of this high ground will decide the future super power. Space is global by nature and holds no geographic or nation-state boundaries. Satellites traverse in their orbits above every nation in the world, usually unnoticed and eluding traditional terrestrial choke points. India was quick to recognise the potential of space exploration. The vast size of the country and the difficulty of communication with many areas make satellite technology practically essential in a modern world. To India's credit, she has concentrated her efforts on civilian applications of space technology in an effort to make economic and social improvements. However, the military applications of this technology cannot be ignored especially to maintain itself as a credible military power into the 21st century.


The biggest mistake we can make today is to impede our development as a Space and Air Force. We must all work together to reconcile our dreams and our vision for the future…to arrive at the most actionable and doable parts of our shared vision and to bring these to reality.

—General Howell M. Estes III


Space power will be as decisive in future combat as airpower is today.

Hon. EC Aldridge Jr

USAF Space Policy,1988.

1. The concept of space as another dimension in which war will be fought is new to many military strategists. It is now being fully recognised as a medium which must be controlled, in which the same way as the navies of the world strive for supremacy on the oceans, air forces struggle to achieve air superiority and armies fight to secure territory. The necessity to control these other dimension of war is obvious.[93] Technologies related to space would occupy prime positions in times to come. There is a familiar correlation between early twenty-first-century space power and airpower's infancy in the post-World War I era. The parallels in the development of airpower and space power are interesting. The space community is currently wrestling with many of the same issues that plagued early airpower. Similar to post-World War I airpower, there is no question that today's space forces provide a wealth of force enhancement to joint war fighters. . Like the early airpower advocates wrestling with how to achieve effective airpower, today's space community wrestles with very similar doctrinal, organizational, and operational issues. Lessons learned from the history of airpower development allow national space power to avoid similar mistakes and pain.[94] Additionally, from a national perspective, space systems provide essential economic, commercial, and scientific capabilities resulting in potential centres of gravity (COG). Already, many commercial and economic ventures are entirely dependent on space assets for modern commercial and economic growth and operations. For example, the global positioning system is critical for transportation-systems navigation (air, sea, rail, and highway) and also provides precise timing for international stock-market trades affecting national economies; weather satellites provide key environmental information and forecasts to predict potential weather disasters, facilitate agricultural planning, and monitor forest fires and solar (sun) phenomena; and information technologies depend exclusively on satellite communications for global communications, direct satellite TV/radio broadcasts, and emergency services. Just as nations protect their land, sea, and air assets for economic, commercial, and military purposes, the protection of space capabilities is becoming increasingly important. The space power has emerged as great source of power and precision. It has also evolved as great force multiplier in both the civil humanitarian relief operations and also military operations. There are certain conclusions which can be drawn and recommendations as given below

(a) Space is a distinct medium thus require dedicated and focused space based theory, doctrine, and policy. Just as ground, naval, and air forces operate in their own distinct mediums, space forces operate in their own distinct medium—the vacuum of space. Physical laws distinguish each medium from another. Land forces are bound by gravity in two dimensions; sea and air forces are three--dimensional and fully dependent upon Bernoulli's laws of fluid dynamics; and space forces function via Kepler's laws of planetary motion. The theories developed for land forces cannot be used for sea forces and also the air power theories cannot be used for space power. Therefore there is a need to develop an independent space theory to exploit its full spectrum and capability.

(b) Space power is a force multiplier for every combatant commander, military service and also for the civilian use. It provides the leaders, commanders, operators and even the general populace the force enhancement, increase in combat effectiveness and thus increasing the chances of success. Space systems significantly improve the capabilities of land, sea and air forces to achieve dominance of battle space. It reduces the Fog of war by providing real time surveillance, networking and communication at the battle area. It helps in reducing the decision making cycle for the commanders thus enhancing the efficiency and capability of military force. In addition to being a huge force multiplier, space power is universal by nature; its effects to land, sea, and air combat operations can be direct or indirect, immediate or delayed. Integration of space into the campaign plans, as well as deliberate and crisis-action planning has come a long way, providing even more lethal and rapid dominance of the battle space.[95] Space forces can support all levels of war simultaneously because of its reach and unlimited coverage. Space systems produce global and theatre effects simultaneously due to their speed, range, precision, and global presence. Satellites, because of their high-ground advantage, have the ability to simultaneously cover multiple theatres.

National space power reaches its full potential when a nation commits to a separate, independent space force may be under Integrated defence staff. National space power cannot reach its full potential until a nation commits itself to a separate, independent space force. An independent space-force organization would fully unleash the true potential of space power, allowing freedom to explore, develop, and refine space theory, doctrine, and policy without undue influence from other service cultures. In our context with finite resources and funds, space systems have historically received lower priority than terrestrial weapon systems. But today our space capability and power has grown to the point where a separate independent resource feed is required. An independent space force will foster a space-force culture, reduce competition for resources, and allow space-power theory and resulting combat capability to develop more effectively to counter future space threats. Since space-related technologies will be accessed by all three services, since future wars will be fought jointly and at theatre levels, since command and control will be executed via military networks, the Integrated Defence Staff is the most deserving agency to host the aerospace department. Acknowledging this logic, last June, the defence minister announced the formation of an Integrated Space Cell under the IDS headquarters in Delhi to counter what he called 'the growing threat to our space assets.' The Space Command should be charged with total administrative and operational control over the whole gamut of space warfare. As space assets must be seen as auxiliary tools to serve our security requirements, let us develop a military space programme by investing in space technologies without being apologetic about it

(c) Space is emerging as a military and economic COG for nations that conduct information--dependent military and economic operations.[96] Space is a lucrative COG for other nations as well; it is no longer a “sanctuary” for the United States alone to enjoy. Other nations are rapidly getting into the space race. Currently, 58 nations have satellites on orbit for military or economic purposes; 15 nations have their own indigenous space-lift capability; and there are five international-consortium space-launch providers to launch satellites for those who cannot do so themselves.[97]

(d) Finally, space systems provide information across the system including conventional warfare, unconventional warfare (nuclear), asymmetric warfare (global war on terrorism), and military operations other than war, which include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping operations, non-combatant evacuation operations, and so forth. With India's increasing participation in worldwide operations and exercises military forces increasingly depend upon immediate space-based capabilities.

2. The only way of handling operations at two fronts simultaneously is by creating asymmetry through our space prowess. We need to develop and deploy space-based assets so as to cumulate sensor inputs, data link it to the networked military command and control system from where it can be fed to the field units and commanders. This will enhance the battlefield situational awareness through real-time projection of the battlefield. For this, the Indian armed forces will have to attain network centric warfare (NCW) capability. NCW will pivot upon the networking of terrestrial radars; AEW platforms; air defence fighters, missiles & artillery batteries; communication centres; electronic warfare systems and aggregation of other air defence assets of army and navy. Thus, a net-centric apparatus will enable the military to interlock geographically scattered units to operate as a unified force, thus maximising our reach and offensive power, thus maximising our chances of aerospace dominance. Though we enjoy the edge over Pakistan in satellite technology, one cannot rule out China, sharing its know-how and intelligence with Pakistan. With space having emerged as the fourth medium for military operations, the IAF had brought out its blueprint titled 'Defence Space Vision 2020' years ago., But there is a need for action because action speaks louder than words.


[2] dated 13 Dec 09.


[4] dated 13 Dec 09.

[5] ibid

[6] The essence of aerospace power: what leaders need to know Dennis m. Drew

[7] ibid

[8] ibid

[9] dated 13 Dec 09.

[10] “How the current view of the air and space environment influences development of military space forces” by Lyndon S. Anderson, Major, USAF Stephen M. Rothstein, Major, USAF

[11] Global Engagement: A Vision for the 21st Century Air Force, United States Air Force.

[12] Jerry Jon Sellers, Understanding Space (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994), 60-61; and AU-18, Space Handbook, An Analyst's Guide (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1993), 4-5.

[13] . Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 973.

[14] Definition is consistent with current joint-operations definitions of space power as defined in Joint Publications (JP) 1-02 and 3-14, and similar to Lt Col David Lupton's definition of the term in his book On Space Warfare: A Space Power Doctrine (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1988).

[15] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 9

[16] Bulkeley and Spinardi. Space Weapons. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1986, p 39.

[17] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 15

[18] Bulkeley and Spinardi. Space Weapons. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1986, p 40.

[19] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 19

[20] Bulkeley and Spinardi. op cit., p 39.

[21] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 27

[22] . Carter, 1986; Marsh P, 1985.

[23] . Bulkeley and Spinardi. op cit., p 40.

[24] Clarke Covington and Robert 0. Piland, "Space Operations Center: The Next Goal for Manned Space Flight?" Astronautics and Aeronautics, September 1980, pp. 30-37.

[25] Sänger, pp. 140-41.

[26] Space Warfare in Perspective by Ronald D. Humble

[27] ibid

[28] Space Warfare in Perspective by Ronald D. Humble

[29] Kailash Thakur, Outer Space and Military Supermacy, New Delhi, Deep and Deep Publications.

[30] ibid

[31] Space Warfare in Perspective by Ronald D. Humble

[32] ibid

[33] “All You Ever Wanted to Know About Theory Development,” United States Space Command, Volume I, Issue, 4 July,1997, 17a.

[34] How the current view of the air and space environment influences development of military space forces by Lyndon S. Anderson, Major, USAF Stephen M. Rothstein, Major, USAF

[35] The essence of aerospace power: what leaders need to know Dennis m. Drew

[36] ibid

[37] ibid

[38] ibid

[39] “How the current view of the air and space environment influences development of military space forces” by Lyndon S. Anderson, Major, USAF Stephen M. Rothstein, Major, USAF

[40] The essence of aerospace power: what leaders need to know Dennis m. Drew

[41] dated 13 Dec 09.

[42] ibid

[43]How the current view of the air and space environment influences development of military space forces by Lyndon S. Anderson, Major, USAF Stephen M. Rothstein, Major, USAF

[44] By Group Captain Peter W Gray RAF, D Def S (RAF), JDCC Shrivenham

[45] The essence of aerospace power: what leaders need to know Dennis m. Drew

[46] How the current view of the air and space environment influences development of military space forces by Lyndon S. Anderson, Major, USAF Stephen M. Rothstein, Major, USAF

[47] V K Madhok. Space - Profiles of the Future. New Delhi, M/s Sujay, 1988, p. 40.

[48] Madhok. op.cit., pp. 91.

[49] Space power by LT COL PAUL D. BERG air and space power journal summer 2004

[50] Bhupinder Jasani : Space Weapons- The Arms Control Dilemma, Great Britain, 1984, Taylor & Francis (Printers) Ltd, pp.5.

[51] By Group Captain Peter W Gray RAF, D Def S (RAF), JDCC Shrivenham

[52] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 59

[53] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 60

[54] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 83

[55] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 84

[56] . Bulkeley and Spinardi. Space Weapons. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1986, p 43.

[57] . B Jasani. Outer Space- Battlefield of the Future? Sipri, Taylor & Francis Ltd, London 1978. p 12.

[58] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 95

[59] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 2

[60] . B Jasani and C Lee. Countdown to Space War. London, 1982, p 43, 46.

[61] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 114

[62] By Group Captain Peter W Gray RAF, D Def S (RAF), JDCC Shrivenham

[63] By Group Captain Peter W Gray RAF, D Def S (RAF), JDCC Shrivenham

[64]. Vice Admiral Raman Puri, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd) : Space Assets and their integration with Land, Air and Maritime Warfare for enabling National Security Strategy Part I. US I Journal; Jul-Sep 06.
[65] Space Warfare in Perspective by Ronald D. Humble

[66] Bhupinder Jasani : Emerging Technologies; Disarmament, a period review by the united nations, vol X No.2, summer 1987 p 26.

[67] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 156

[68] Ashton B. Carter, Directed Energy Missile Defence in Space, (Background Paper), (Washington D.C.: US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, OTA-BP-ISC-26, April 1984), p. 18.

[69] Ashton B. Carter, op. cit., p. 19.

[70] Kosmos:Kakin Yego Vidyot Vashingtona, Moscow, 1985, Progress Publishers, pp.4.

[71] Bhupendra Jasani. Outer Space - A New Dimension of the Arms Race. London, Taylor and Francis Ltd., 1982, p. 41.

[72] Bhupendra Jasani. Outer Space: A Source of Conflict or Co-operation. Japan, United Nations University Press, 1991, p. 3.

[73] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 2

[74] Ibid.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Vladimir Belons: Star Wars or star Peace , New Delhi, 1988, Allied Publishers, pp.4.

[77] Ibid., pp. 96.

[78] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 3
[79] The Dawn of a Space Force Lt Col Mark E. Harter, USAF Document created: 1 June 06 Air & Space Power Journal - Summer 2006
[80] The Dawn of a Space Force Lt Col Mark E. Harter, USAF Document created: 1 June 06 Air & Space Power Journal - Summer 2006

[81] The Military Use of Space: A Diagnostic Assessment <>

[82] Madhok.op.cit., pp. 94.

[83] India's Emergence as an Aerospace Power and its, Responsibility to the Region Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon'ble Raksha Mantri

[84] The other rising space power by jeff foust dec 18 2006

[85] The other rising space power by jeff foust dec 18 2006

[86] July 20, 2009 Inside GNSS, July/August 2009 Share via: Technorati Twitter

[87] Military Dimensions in the Future of the Indian Presence in Space by Dr V Siddharta - USI Journal June 2000.

[88] <> dated 20 Aug 99.

[89] Madhok.op.cit., pp. 82.

[90] Ibid., pp. 29.

[91] India's Emergence as an Aerospace Power and its, Responsibility to the Region Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon'ble Raksha Mantri

[92] Space Warefare and Military Strategy : An Indian perspective by Brig AK Lal.

[93] Military Space by Brasseys vol 10 p 3
[94] The Dawn of a Space Force Lt Col Mark E. Harter, USAF Document created: 1 June 06 Air & Space Power Journal - Summer 2006
[95] The Dawn of a Space Force Lt Col Mark E. Harter, USAF Document created: 1 June 06 Air & Space Power Journal - Summer 2006

[96] United States Space Command Long-Range Plan: Implementing USSPACECOM Vision for 2020 (Peterson AFB, CO: US Space Command, Director of Plans, April 1998), 4-5.

[97] “Rest of World Space Launch,” Air University Space Primer, chap. 20 (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air War College, July 2003),