NATO reveals how it will operate in space

NATO will consider an attack against a member country’s assets in space as an assault on the alliance, and such actions could lead to a coordinated armed response from all members if necessary, according to NATO’s first formal, public space policy released Monday, my colleague Jacob Knutson writes.

Why it matters: The policy reflects the increasing importance of space to more countries. It also normalizes NATO’s intentions in space as China, Russia, India and other countries push forward on their science and military ambitions in orbit and beyond.

Details: The policy expands on NATO’s 2019 classified space policy and a communique released by the heads of member states last year, which said an attack against one member in space will be considered an attack against all.

  • The new policy from NATO goes further and defines its key roles in space, including coordinating allies” space capabilities to help NATO’s deterrence and defense efforts in other operational domains: land, maritime, air and cyberspace.
  • Of note:NATO said it is not aiming to become «an autonomous space actor» with its own capabilities but will rather rely on member countries that voluntarily provide «space data, products, services or effects that could be required for the Alliance’s operations, missions, and other activities.»

What they’re saying: NATO has yet to define what constitutes an attack, says Kaitlyn Johnson, a space policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

  • It’s unclear how it would respond to forms of satellite warfare that temporarily disable or blind targets without permanently damaging them.
  • «I think the alliance is intentionally being vague about this to leave its options open,» she said.


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