Space Competition

Ralph Thiele: Space Competition, AIES Fokus 6/2021, Special Series on the Strategic Review of Global Hotspots

Fokus 6



Geostrategic competition is global in scope. The boundaries between civil and military competition have become fluid and marked by geostrategic competition, multiple hybrid threat situations, attacks on businesses and critical infrastructure, and the threat of prolonged, low-intensity or shorter, high-intensity conflicts. Hybrid scenarios are gaining in importance as a preferred form of confrontation.

In particular, Russia and China integrate civil and military competition at every level, including the development of their international trade, investment, national technology base, and political and diplomatic activities. Both are using new, disruptive dual-use technologies as the key to advancing own capabilities and geopolitical ambitions. The dynamics of this geostrategic environment present EU, NATO and member states with a variety of demanding requirements. In this equation space holds a critical role.

Space-based services have become key to commercial, governmental and military systems, platforms and information requirements. Space systems imagery, and geolocation services allow users to access and fuse data and information in near real-time. Together with timing and navigation, space-based capabilities provide secure high bandwidth and the connection of fixed and on-the-move 5G networks. They enable high mobility, wide geographical coverage and precision. In particular, military command & control use space-based systems, coupled with meshed networks systems to support deployed operations as these enable data-exchange in difficult environments. The use of space and space-derived data will likely increase over the next two decades.

This special Fokus series on the Strategic Review of Global Hotspots consists of seven parts and is based on the AIES online discussion on the same topic. The online lectures of the authors are available at

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