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Conflict and Controversy in the Space Domain: Legalities, Lethalities, and Celestial Security

  • Published
  • By Sgt Joshua E. Duke, USMC


Space is becoming the next frontier for human conflict. The Russian Federation (RF), People’s Republic of China (PRC), and United States are the three most powerful nations on Earth, and each is deeply invested in a new kind of space race to gain and maintain control over space. Each of these nations has plans for lunar bases and the colonization of Mars. Each is also developing a variety of space-based weapon systems and spacecraft capable of maneuvering in zero gravity, the combination of which can and will be used to control space and potentially the future of mankind. Existing international laws and treaties, notably the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Outer Space Treaty), lack sufficient legally binding language when applied to today’s space-based technologies and concepts for developments. There are few international recourses available to prevent a nation from developing a variety of space weaponry or exploiting space resources.

This article assumes the inevitability of space exploration—including celestial body resource exploitation, weapon research and developments, and the human colonization of Mars—in an attempt to answer the question of how important the role is for American leadership of human expansion into space. The author explores the technologies available in today's space race environment, including potential future energy resources available in space, weapon systems designed for space warfare, the legal implications of each, and some potential consequences of different nations gaining the upper hand in the heavens. Part 1 outlines recent space-relevant technological developments. Part 2 examines lunar exploitation and resources, particularly Helium-3, and the potential for future fusion energy developments. Part 3 explores the potential benefits of exploring, exploiting, and colonizing Mars. Part 4 underscores the severity of the potential and actuality of space weaponization, including an overview of existing and theoretical weaponry and legal implications. Finally, Part 5 concludes with an analysis of the potential implications of recent developments and control over space and celestial bodies with regard to global economic stability and space superiority, emphasizing the absolute need of American leadership as humans expand into the space domain.

Part 1: Space Tech of Today

Advancements in space technology are quickly leading to an inevitable conflict over control in space, which includes control over the Moon through lunar bases and potentially control over the colonization of Mars. The PRC has added the capability to "physically attack satellites using antisatellite [ASAT] interceptors, miniature space mines, and ground-based lasers" into its military space program.1 These capabilities fall under the guise of the Outer Space Treaty’s permission to destroy militarized satellites.2 These technologies could easily be used offensively to create a decision advantage in combat. Some analysts believe that the deliberate collision of PRC satellites with older satellites shows that the PRC has experimented with "parasitic satellites" designed to lie dormant in the vicinity of a target until activated, potentially for hacking purposes.3 The PRC even "reportedly launched a hypersonic 'prototype space fighter' " in 2010. It continues to be locked in an intense space race with the rest of the space-savvy international community—particularly Russia, the United States, and India—with a short-term goal of controlling the Moon with a lunar base and a longer-term goal of populating Mars under the rule of the PRC.4

The development of maneuverable space planes and lunar bases is not unique to the PRC. The National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) developed the X-37 and X-37B space planes, and the Russian Federation is developing a maneuverable space plane using nuclear technology for power.5 All of these nations (as well as several others, including India and Japan) intend to establish lunar bases within the next 20 years.6 Despite the array of international treaties and agreements promoting peaceful global development of space resources in the name of science and humanity, it is unlikely that space will remain weapon free and likely that it will become the next frontier of global combat. Space weapons in development may use robotics, nanotechnology, and directed energy such as microwaves and lasers.7 With the establishment of a lunar base, a nation with advanced laser technology, advanced cyber weaponry, maneuverable space planes, satellite targeting capabilities, nano-science stealth technology, artificial intelligence, and self-guiding nanotechnology bullets would undoubtedly have the capacity to rule the Earth as it sees fit. All of these technologies already exist or are in development phases, and they are the future of intelligence and warfare.8

The US government and NASA, unlike the PRC and the RF, have been encouraging the commercialization of space cargo transportation to meet future American needs for access to the International Space Station (ISS) and to improve the research and development of spaceborne technologies and other developments.9 Private sector involvement has also opened the market for alternative rocket propulsion technologies that can achieve government and commercial goals for space at lower costs and faster than possible under the existing bureaucracy of NASA. Enhanced private sector involvement in space travel utilizes the free-market system to foster radical developments and investment for both government and private sector programs, incentivizing broader participation, which benefits both. Commercializing aspects of standard space operations, such as the recent partnership with SpaceX, will also pave the way for space tourism. This will free up resources for NASA and the newly minted US Space Force to pursue broader goals, such as manned deep space travel, a lunar base, and manned missions to Mars.

Part 2: Lunar Power

Rare earth metals and other minerals are quickly becoming scarce in the United States to the point where the international space race to claim the Moon and Mars has become a top priority, not just for control over them but for the resources available for exploitation. Uranium has even entered the economic radar as a good idea for boosting the American economy instead of remaining too dangerous to mine due to the associated health risks and environmental hazards. This resource is in abundance on the Moon.10 Estimates suggest there may be up to five million tons of Helium-3 (3He) contained within the lunar regolith.11 This has the potential to meet all of mankind's power needs for thousands of years when used with fusion power.12 On top of the resources potentially available, the Moon provides a unique launching position for future missions to Mars with a faster, more direct, and more efficient path to the Red Planet.13 Control over the Moon is an inherent factor in the future of the human race.

Uranium has long been a part of the nuclear fission enterprise on Earth but comes with high costs, including radioactive waste and extreme health and environmental hazards due to the radiation produced in the fission process. Terrestrial reserves of other energy-producing resources, like oil and natural gas, have also been projected to be exhausted within 50–100 years under current and projected mining and usage rates.14 Alternatively, the element tritium (T), which has a half-life of 12.32 years, naturally decays into 3He,15 which can be used to create a new kind of power—fusion power. Fusion power can be generated by combining deuterium (D) with either more D, T, or 3He, using the following calculations shown in order of their ignition temperatures:

  1. D + T = 4He [Helium-4] + n [neutrons] + 17.6 MeV [Million electron Volts]

  2. D + D = T + H [Hydrogen] + 4.0 MeV (50%)

= 3He + n + 3.3 MeV (50%)

  1. D + 3He = 4He + H + 18.4 MeV16


Fusion power can also be created by combining 3He with more 3He, creating Helium-4 (4He).17 The combination of 3He and 3He is the most energy efficient, producing the greatest net energy,18 but also requires the highest ignition temperature to achieve fusion.19

Unfortunately, 3He exists only in minute amounts on Earth.20 The nation that establishes a mining and transportation industry capable of bringing lunar 3He to Earth, and develops a fusion plant network that transforms 3He into power, could control a substantial portion of the planet’s energy industry for decades. Some scientific estimates discount both the estimates of the potential amount of extractable 3He in the lunar regolith and the potential to achieve industrial fusion reactors on Earth capable of processing it. Exemplifying this scientific stance are the calculations of Ian Crawford, who believes both prospects are greatly exaggerated and that there are only approximately 220,507 tons of 3He available in logical extraction areas, such as the titanium-rich lunar basalt flats.21 Despite his dissent, Crawford admits even lunar resources that seem impractical and economically inefficient to transport resources to Earth may provide substantial economic benefits for space-based uses, such as solar power systems and spacecraft fusion engines, for example,22 which would not require transport back to Earth.

Earth's finite resources make lunar and space resource exploitation an inevitability. The most pertinent factor governing future human resource exploitation in space is the question of which nation will achieve a successful and effective industrial supply chain first. The most probable three nations to achieve this are the US, the PRC, and the RF, and the three areas that need to be navigated to succeed are facility establishment, production/refinement, and transportation. Establishing lunar facilities is the easiest of these goals, especially when lunar resources that can be used for building are taken into account, which decreases the amount of materials needed to be brought to the Moon and the time needed for construction. In 2008, a NASA experiment found that lunar regolith has potential construction properties. When scientists heated the regolith and used sulfur as a binding agent, they made "waterless concrete," which can be molded and is nearly as strong as concrete when it hardens.23 This process requires minimal effort and relies primarily on direct heat application and the ability to shape the regolith. Consequently, the entire process can be automated by robots with the appropriate tools on the lunar surface, such as the ones NASA began developing specifically for this purpose in 2009.24

The simplicity of the operational requirements means that these three nations already have the technical capability to begin construction using lunar soil after arriving on the Moon. They will also all be capable of bringing any other materials that would be necessary to construct facilities or bases on the lunar surface. Unlike the US, and contrary to existing international law, the PRC's stance on the Moon is that it is territory,25 despite the prohibition on "national appropriation" of celestial bodies outlined in Article II of the Outer Space Treaty.26 The PRC has also proposed mining 3He for future fusion power opportunities.27 The RF, while not openly pursuing a territorial ambition for the Moon, is certainly exploring and advancing prospects of economic development, including 3He extraction and tourism.28 Facility development and resource exploitation areas on the Moon are limited. This will exacerbate the race for prime locations and desirable resources, particularly at the poles, where water ice is believed to exist in large quantities (which can be used to sustain lunar human habitation), and in the titanium- and 3He-rich basalt flats of Mare Tranquillitatis and Oceanus Procellarum.29 Once established, facility operations can begin to extract and refine resources either for use on the lunar surface or for transportation to Earth.

Transportation of materials from the Moon to Earth is a substantial financial and logistical undertaking. It will not be easy to show a profit after the considerable expenses associated with it. Nevertheless, extraction and transportation of 3He and other resources to Earth, specifically for fusion power production, have been expressed as long-term goals of the PRC and the RF within decades. Interestingly, the US has not stated this as a goal but has already shifted its space transportation industry sufficiently toward the private sector. The private sector will have the most viable opportunity to build the first industrial space transportation system, specifically because of advantages in the American free-market system.30 By encouraging private sector participation in the space industry and commercializing space transportation, the US has made production of space technologies competitive with proposals in the National Space Policy.31 A competitive industry makes substantial investments in research, development, and production of space transports; engine components for space travel; and tools for use in zero gravity. America cannot afford to fall behind in the race for lunar facility establishment and resource exploitation. This is for reasons of economic and national security and the future security of human expansion into space as the Moon offers the most efficient launching position for missions to Earth's red neighbor, Mars.

Part 3: Mars Domination

Mars is widely accepted by the scientific community to be the most plausible planet for the first human habitation on a celestial body and, consequently, the most likely location for the first space colony and eventually a second planet for humankind. Thus, Mars is a desirable goal for nations involved in space exploration for many reasons. The territory on Mars, for example, will most likely become marketable for economic value to civilians in the long term. The Outer Space Treaty prevents ownership of territory on celestial bodies but makes no mention of ownership or sale for profit of structures built on, or items brought to, celestial bodies, just as there is no explicit language in the treaty preventing profit-based resource exploitation on celestial bodies by either governments, organizations, or private nationals.32 Additionally, the inevitability of Mars becoming a second planet inhabited by humanity must be considered, along with all of the implications of living spaces and ownership of property that will eventually follow. Denying this inevitability and claiming it as outlawed by international law due to the prohibition on appropriating territory on a celestial body would essentially equate owning property on Earth as also outlawed by international law. After all, Earth is also a celestial body. Language in the treaty encourages expansion into space and essentially says that if persons, governments, or organizations build something on a celestial body, they own that building33 and can do what they want with it, including selling it. They cannot, however, claim to own the planet's ground outside the building—yet. Resources on Mars, while still not mapped out as substantially as lunar resources have been, will likewise create new markets for economic prosperity and national wealth, including more 3He deposits from solar winds like those found in lunar regolith along with substantially high concentrations of iron.34

In addition to buildings constructed on celestial bodies, spacecraft and facilities constructed in space and on celestial bodies are also considered to be the territory of the owning nation, which means that the UN Charter applies to facilities and spacecraft in space and on celestial bodies. UN Charter Article 2(4), in particular, protects space explorers and potential future residents on Mars by prohibiting the "use of force against the territorial integrity" of another nation party to the treaty,35 which all space-faring nations are. Article 51 further dictates that if attacked, "the inherent right of . . . self-defense" shall not be impaired.36 Article V of the Outer Space Treaty prescribes that, in space, all humans are bound to "render all possible assistance to" each other as "envoys of Mankind."37 Essentially, a peaceful international course is possible—even mandated—for human expansion into space. Unfortunately, the PRC and the RF regard space and celestial bodies as territorial goals,38 leading to the assumption that attempts will be made to control and defend such territories as necessary to achieve space superiority, control over space resources, and managerial power over the future colonization of Mars.

Control over Mars, in addition to affecting resource exploitation, transportation, and scientific advancements, also has implications for the direction of humanity in space. Establishment of a human colony, or human colonies, on Mars will eventually lead to territorial spaces, development of the land and air (potentially involving terraforming the planet for atmospheric enhancement), and security issues. While an established colony on the Red Planet is still likely decades away, trends within the PRC and RF governments suggest that any established colony on Mars under their jurisdiction would be authoritarian, weaponized, and secret. Given the nature of weather on Mars, fortified structures are easily justified, and the lack of a conventional weapons ban on celestial bodies makes weaponization of such a colony both legal and desirable, mainly because of the third inherently desired factor—secrecy. The inevitability of PRC and RF presence on Mars also suggests that any US developments will also include fortifications and weaponization. While the Outer Space Treaty mandates cooperation between nations on celestial bodies, the extreme distance between Earth and Mars means that a compliance verification system with effective monitoring and enforcement will be complicated, if not impossible, for the foreseeable future. For these reasons, a nation that effectively controls near-Earth space and establishes a security presence on the Moon will effectively be in a position to control Mars.

Part 4: Space Control

Celestial bodies are not the only potential fields of conflict in space, and in the short term, space itself has become a much more immediately relevant focus for spacefaring nations and the world. This is particularly the case in the vicinity of Earth, including orbital paths for communication technologies, weapon platforms, and sensors. Technological improvements and the proliferation of nation-state and private sector interest and capacity to enter space are causing the acceleration of an inevitability—usable orbital space around Earth is diminishing.39 Satellites and other spaceborne assets orbiting Earth are quickly filling up all of the most useful places to perform their assigned functions within Earth's various orbits, and space debris is complicating matters even further. Increasing numbers of space objects are causing difficulty in establishing safe orbital paths for newly launched spacecraft while increasing the risk to launches destined for deep space.40 Adding to these complications are international developments of ASAT weapons, many of which add to the more than 500,000 pieces of space debris traveling as fast as 17,500 mph41 already orbiting Earth.42

ASATs in use and under development include essentially two broad areas: kinetic energy (KE), such as missiles and rail guns, which impact targets in space; and directed energy (DE), which includes lasers, particle beams, and cyber weapons.43 The Outer Space Treaty, while prohibiting nuclear weapons from being used in any way in space including being stationed in space, "has no specific provision prohibiting the use of conventional weapons, [including lasers], in outer space,"44 which inherently authorizes them. The Outer Space Treaty also contains no prohibition of such weapons being stationed on space-based platforms, including on celestial bodies, or of them being used to target objects on Earth, in space, or on celestial bodies.45 In other words, these weapons are legal in every way, regardless of the potential damage they can cause to international stability and humanity. There are, however, multiple ongoing debates over the nature, definitions, and classifications of several kinds of ASATs currently in operation or in developmental phases.

Nearly every KE ASAT results in a large amount of space debris, which causes an abundance of future and immediate problems for space activities, including endangerment of the basic military and commercial functions of satellites for the Global Positioning System (GPS), communications, and recreation. Space debris is therefore a highly undesirable side effect for any nation to risk and potentially dangerous to the integrity of a nation's armed forces. David Koplow addresses this issue in a substantially relevant and logical way in his article “An Inference about Interference: A Surprising Application of Existing International Law to Inhibit Anti-Satellite Weapons.” His stated thesis is as follows: “The [National Technical Means] NTM-protection provisions of arms control treaties already prohibit the testing and use of destructive, debris-creating ASATs, because it is foreseeable that the resulting cloud of space junk will, sooner or later, impermissibly interfere with the operation of another state's NTM satellite, such as by colliding with it or causing it to maneuver away from its preferred orbital parameters into a safer, but less useful, location.”46 By "interfering" with these NTM verifications mandated by multiple treaties, Koplow suggests that intentional actions creating space debris are already outlawed by international law, and that the development of debris creating KE ASATs should cease and be banned immediately.47

Laser weapons, particle beams, and weapons containing depleted uranium are also under debate due to their radioactivity as well as nuclear processes used for some of their operations. Some posit that nuclear activities or materials within a weapon system should constitute classifying them as nuclear weapons, thereby outlawing them in space per the Outer Space Treaty's nuclear weapons ban.48 Advocates for these weapons declare that the weapons are not nuclear. Of the three primary types debated, laser weapons use a nuclear or chemical reaction process to fire a radioactive beam, particle beams rapidly fire atomic charged particles at a target, and hypervelocity rod bundle weapons and railguns use depleted uranium as ammunition.49 Finally, the potential exists for the use of a nuclear explosion in space designed to generate an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on an Earth target, which the RF "has worked on developing" in the form of an “EMP ASAT.”50 With the RF’s recent developments in ASATs and its stated intent “to station weapons in space,”51 the complete weaponization of space by the RF and other nations—including the US and the PRC—is inevitable. The RF and PRC are aggressively pursuing ASAT weapon advancements and preparing for space combat operations, including the RF recently fielding a "ground-based laser weapon" even as it publicly advocated for space not to be weaponized.52

Part 5: The Future of Space

Space exploration converges on two of Sun Tzu's concepts of the strategic battlespace: “open ground” and the “ground of intersecting highways.” The former consists of areas where all sides have "liberty of movement" and the latter of areas where "contiguous states" converge.53 On open ground, Sun Tzu advises not "to block the enemy’s way," and on intersecting grounds he suggests to "join hands with your allies.54 Space is essentially a combination of these types of ground, where all nations are contiguously connected, and yet it consists of a legally recognized area of free movement for all persons and nations. Interestingly, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, written over 2,000 years ago, advocates indirectly for peaceful human expansion into space, where allied nations proceed forth together while intentionally avoiding negative engagements with potential adversaries. This ancient concept of human cooperation and peaceful coexistence is also consistent with the Department of Defense's (DOD) and intelligence community's (IC) National Security Space Policy55 and the National Space Policy of the United States of America.56

Executive Order (EO) 13914, signed on 6 April 2020, clarifies the position of the US government that while international cooperation in space exploration is essentially mandatory, America "does not view [space] as a global commons,"57 reiterating that the Outer Space Treaty does in fact protect the individual interests of nations in space, including the right to self-defense. The policy further clarifies the intent of the United States to harvest materials from celestial bodies and strengthens the implied relationships with both the international community and the private sector concerning space exploration and related developments.58 By combining these principles, this renewed position on space developments further complements Sun Tzu’s ideas of the strategic battlespace in relation to the space domain moving into the future, regarding space as an area that can be used and exploited by everyone, but acknowledging that claims, defense, and security are also going to be essential factors in the way mankind moves forward in the space domain.

In addressing the impact of space exploration, and the subsequent superiority gained by the PRC, the RF, or the US in the process, it is important to recognize the three principle issues of the strategic space environment outlined in these national policies: congestion, contestation, and competitiveness. The US IC is mandated by section 1.1 of EO 12333 to "provide . . . the necessary information on which to base decisions concerning the development and conduct of foreign, defense, and economic policies, and the protection of United States national interests from foreign security threats,"59 which now include threats from space and threats toward US space assets. Congestion, contestation, and competitiveness in space now directly impact the IC's ability to effectively pursue its mandate under EO 12333 and must be addressed collectively to ensure the future national security of the United States on Earth and in space. Enhancing the space industrial base’s ability to innovate and participate in the expansion of humankind into space fosters a unique opportunity to share with, and benefit from, research and development initiatives related to activities in space. Combining private sector and government resources together has the potential to greatly accelerate advancements across a wide range of space assets—including spacecraft developments, zero gravity research, energy production, and weapon applications—all of which will help minimize the risks of congestion, contestation, and competitiveness.

Congestion in space refers to objects, including active devices and dangerous debris, filling up the usable orbital paths used for government and commercial purposes, primarily satellites. It also applies to finite amounts of bandwidth and frequencies used for transmissions that are currently being exhausted by demand threatening to exceed supply.60 Congestion will also inherently refer to space traffic once an industry exists that requires transportation between the Earth and the Moon, as well as to physical locations for lunar and Martian resource exploitation facilities and extraction points and places to build and operate on celestial bodies, including the Moon and Mars. This will eventually include a significant focus on the colonization of Mars since large portions of the planet are unsuitable for human habitation due to terrain, radiation, meteoroids, and weather. Short-term intelligence and counterintelligence impacts from the congestion of near-Earth space consist of primarily radio interference, protecting satellites from becoming compromised, effective deployment and concealment of collection platforms, and ensuring the integrity of protected information in transit.

Sharing space in accordance with Sun Tzu’s ancient wisdom does not mean ceding it, and while space debris is the primary factor in congestion, contestation is becoming an issue due to potential adversarial ASATs. Contestation is an anticipated inevitability and one that will grow exponentially as more nations enter space and with further developments and potential use of ASATs, either in war, by accident, or for other reasons. Murphy’s Law applies, even in space. Currently, competitiveness is driving both the potential for contestation as well as the congestion in near-Earth space. Commercial and multi-governmental competition is increasing for space-related research and development, deployment of assets, and physical space for occupation by those assets. Intelligence agencies in many nations, including allies and adversaries of the US, are now advancing the deployment, use, and decision advantages of spaceborne intelligence assets, including space-based surveillance and weapons platforms. Reasserting US superiority over the space environment is vital to the continuation of American leadership on Earth and the effectiveness of IC assurance of national security through space superiority. American leadership in space exploration is the only way to ensure that humanity's expansion into the stars is undertaken with the ideologies of liberty and free-market economics leading the way.

America’s leadership in ingenuity and technological developments, combined with free-market capitalism, has transformed the face of the world for more than two centuries. Its leadership has created the environment necessary to explore game-changing space technologies. These technologies will revolutionize the entire space industry. For example, the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) is an experimental electromagnetic thruster for spacecraft propulsion that will dramatically reduce travel time to Mars and other destinations.61 Commercial spacecraft like the Dream Chaser Cargo System will result in a private sector space travel industry, incentivizing space tourism and, potentially, a space cargo transportation industry. 62 In February 2020, the US Department of Energy announced a $50 million investment in fusion research and development projects across the country.63 One of these is the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the goal of keeping the United States at the forefront of fusion energy development.64 Another is the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin, which is focusing on advancing research in the field of helium-based fusion power production technologies on Earth.65 This technology will address finite terrestrial energy resources and production of 3He-based electricity from lunar regolith.

These are just a few examples of the future of space technology research and development, and such technologies were all made possible because of the structure of the American free-market system. The biggest challenge for the IC will be to balance President Dwight Eisenhower’s vision with Sun Tzu’s battlefield strategies. Eisenhower understood in 1958 that “through [space] exploration, man hopes to broaden his horizons, add to his knowledge, [and] improve his way of living on earth.”66 Sun Tzu knew that “all warfare is based on deception,” “the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans,” and the greatest fighters “put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat” to achieve victory.67 American leaders participating in seizing and maintaining US space superiority shoulder this responsibility and must forge a new path forward that enhances human life on Earth, denies the possibility of victory to US adversaries, and ensures the integrity and security of American assets in the space domain as the world moves forward together into the future.

Sgt Joshua E. Duke, USMC

Sergeant Duke served as a US Army intelligence analyst, including 24 months in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom I, II, III, and IV. He holds a BA in intelligence studies with a concentration in counterintelligence from American Military University and is now serving in the United States Marine Corps. Sergeant Duke’s research focus is on national security and intelligence, including new approaches to counterterrorism using counterintelligence-based models; autonomous weaponry developments and their applications to international law, armed conflict, and US national security; and the future impacts of the space domain on global economics, intelligence operations, and US national security. He is also the author of “From Missiles to Microchips: Nation-States, Non-State Actors, and the Evolution of Intelligence” (Global Security Review, 2020); “Paid to Kill: An Examination of the Evolution of Combatants for Hire” (Global Security Review, 2020); and “Cyber World War: The People’s Republic of China, Anti-American Espionage, and the Global Cyber Arms Race” (Global Security Review, 2020, forthcoming).


1 James Hughes, "Confusion Over Space," The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies 36, no. 1 (Spring, 2011), 3–54.

2 Phillip Pool, "War of the Cyber World: The Law of Cyber Warfare," The International Lawyer 47, no. 2 (February 2013), 299–323.

3 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

4 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

5 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

6 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

7 Eric Jensen, “The Future of the Law of Armed Conflict: Ostriches, Butterflies, and Nanobots,” Michigan Journal of International Law 35, no. 2 (Winter 2014): 253–317.

8 Jenson, “The Future of the Law of Armed Conflict.”

9 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

10 Ian Crawford, "Lunar Resources: A Review," Progress in Physical Geography 39, no. 2 (2015): 137–67.

11 Steve Dobransky, "Helium-3: The Future of Energy Security," International Journal on World Peace 30, no. 1 (March 2013): 61–88.

12 Dobransky, “Helium-3.”

13 Dobransky, “Helium-3.”

14 Dobransky, “Helium-3.”

15 Robert Kolasinski et al., Uranium for Hydrogen Storage Applications: A Materials Science Perspective (Albuquerque, NM: Sandia National Laboratories, August 2010), 5,

16 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

17 Dobransky, “Helium-3.”

18 Dobransky, “Helium-3.”

19 Crawford, “Lunar Resources,” 157.

20 Dobransky, “Helium-3.”

21 Crawford, “Lunar Resources,” 144–45.

22 Crawford, 145.

23 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

24 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

25 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

26 United Nations, Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (hereafter referred to as the Outer Space Treaty), 27 January 1967,

27 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

28 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

29 Crawford, “Lunar Resources,” 145.

30 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

31 Barack Obama, National Space Policy of the United States of America (Washington, DC: The White House, 28 June 2010), 3–5,

32 United Nations, Outer Space Treaty.

33 United Nations, Outer Space Treaty.

34 Dobransky, “Helium-3.”

35 United Nations, Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice, San Francisco, 26 June 1945, United Nations Treaty Collection, 3,

36 United Nations, 10-11.

37 United Nations, Outer Space Treaty.

38 Hughes, “Confusion over Space.”

39 David Koplow, “An Inference about Interference: A Surprising Application of Existing International Law to Inhibit Anti-Satellite Weapons,” University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law 35 (Spring 2014): 746–47.

40 Alexander Chanock, “The Problems and Potential Solutions Related to the Emergence of Space Weapons in the 21st Century,” Journal of Air Law and Commerce 78 (Fall 2013): 697–98.

41 Mark Garcia, “Space Debris and Human Spacecraft,”, 26 September 2013,

42 Koplow, “An Inference about Interference,” 796–97.

43 Koplow, 795.

44 Jenson, “Future of the Law of Armed Conflict.”

45 Jenson, “Future of the Law of Armed Conflict.”

46 Koplow, “An Inference about Interference,” 738–39.

47 Koplow, 738.

48 Jameson Crockett, “Space Warfare in the Here and Now: The Rules of Engagement for U.S. Weaponized Satellites in the Current Legal Space Regime,” Journal of Air Law and Commerce 77 (Fall 2012): 687–88.

49 Crockett, “Space Warfare in the Here and Now,” 674–82.

50 Crockett, 680.

51 James Clapper, “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community,” Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 9 February 2016, 9–10,

52 Daniel Coats, “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community,” Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 29 January 2019, 17,

53 Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Lionel Giles (London: Luzac and Co., 1910), 26,

54 Tzu, Art of War, 26–27.

55 Department of Defense, “National Security Space Strategy: Unclassified Summary,” Department of Defense Archives, 3 January 2011,

56 Obama, National Space Policy.

57 Executive Order 13914, Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources, Federal Register 85, no. 70, 6 April 2020, 1,

58 Executive Order 13914, 1.

59 Executive Order 12333, United States Intelligence Activities of December 4, 1981, As Amended by Executive Orders 13284 (2003), 13355 (2004), and 13470 (2008), Code of Federal Regulations, Title 3, 30 July 2008, 1,

60 Department of Defense, “National Security Space Strategy.”

61 Vamsi C. Krishna and A. S. Kumar, "Magneto Hydro Dynamics-Plasma Dynamic (MHD) for Power Generation and High Speed Propulsion," International Journal of Advances in Engineering & Technology 7, no. 1 (March 2014): 168–75.

62 Michael Gold, Testimony, “NASA at a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration,” Hearing of the Senate Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee, 13 July 2016, 1,

63 Department of Energy, “Department of Energy Announces $50 Million for Fusion Energy R&D,” 13 February 2020,

64 Paul Rivenberg, “Plasma Science and Fusion Center Receives $1.25M from ARPA-E to Explore Practical Paths to Fusion: MIT Experience with Hearing Plasmas will Support Novel and Low-Cost Approaches to Creating Fusion Energy,” Plasma Science and Fusion Center, 15 April 2020,

65 Dobransky, “Helium-3.”

66 Obama, National Space Policy, 1.

67 Tzu, Art of War, 2, 5, 7.



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