On 19 December, the Ministry of defence launched from Kourou in French Guiana, the first of three new satellites of the French military orbital grouping optical-electronic reconnaissance. In early 2019, the President Makron will report on French defense strategy in the space sector. The law on defence planning 2019-2025 years already envisages investments in the amount of 3.6 billion euros for space exploration.
Le Monde: in Addition to the necessary modernization of its means of defense, does France continue to participate in the arms race in space?
Xavier Pasco: In recent years France has made great progress in the space sector, with the exception of defense. Armed forces
increased use of space assets in the context of such operations as “Serval” in Mali in 2013. Space arms race was resumed with the participation of new actors, such as the American Elon Musk, who have large financial resources coming from private individuals and from the state. Revive competition in the space grows the diplomatic tensions as a reflection of opposition on the ground. Too interconnected world, civil and military worlds merge together. In the face of such a situation France would intensify its action.
Nuclear deterrence is distinguished by the position of France in Europe, because it concerns the space field. France believes that it must continue to have a chance to react, and that the fact of the presence in space is needed to be a respected nation. This implies the availability of funds. Aspect of sovereignty is the priority and comes first and foremost control. Another fundamental issue is the provision of guaranteed access to space, the availability of space technology and the determination of their volumes.
USA has military satellites 150, in France only 12. All depends on your goals. “Revision”, that is, the ability to pass the same point several times a day, will allow you to have some stability in tracking. This will contribute to the group’s commercial satellites. Due to its mobility the satellites are optical-electronic reconnaissance will increase the responsiveness.
For the defense of the global strategy was needed, but France itself has never had. Reinvestment depends on how a country wants to be a military power, what fighting spirit she wants to arrange to carry out external operations… There is also the question of reliable partners, who can rely on the state, in the context of a constantly changing industry. The Minister of defence of France, Florence parley called on to determine this. Finally, how to protect these essential tools? You need to find out how far one can go, and how to restrain the arms race.
— Which would entail a sharp increase in the number of satellites, from 1 500 to 7 000, is planned for 2025?
— Space will become more habitable. More objects will be put into orbit, including satellites megagraphitti, more intelligent, collective and more maneuverable systems. Europe has not managed to repeat the achievements of the United States, expect to produce 11 000 satellites promised to group Mask.
Today we are talking about “space traffic management”. In this densely populated environment, including space debris, are becoming increasingly important technology to help avoid collisions. Also in this area, independence is important because, if Paris will be asked to move one of the satellites, we must be sure that you will not be in a bad situation. Until now, France said up to upgrade their radar system “Graves” (Graves). Now she wants to go on to track the increase in traffic in a low orbit.
— Will this not lead to conflict in space?
— Until 1993, the spy satellites did not have official status. In the agreements on outer space 1972 call them spy satellites: it was only about “national technical means”. Today this term is recognized and we move on to outer space is no longer protected because of the American understanding of the threat. I would not speak about the war in space, but rather about new tensions, especially after the first launches by China and the United States anti-satellite systems in 2007-2008.
China continues to orbit missiles (five or six runs, including one to a height of 10,000 kilometers). In 2013-2014, Russia launched the spacecraft “Luch”, which approached to a distance of 2 kilometres to the French geostationary satellite Intelsat and raised questions about its true mission for data collection. Three great cosmic powers such experiments. Still the French position was to “see, listen, understand,” from space, which was not considered by the territory for the military. Now he becomes so.
— What is the position of the main space powers — the United States?
— Americans have always had three main action plan. First is observation, which allows us to characterize objects and their payloads, and even to inspect geostationary satellites. Their term satellite inspectors became common. This ability to be aware of the environment gives the status of power. And France and Europe to go the same way. Secondly, it is a “defensive space”, is designed to protect satellites from electromagnetic attacks and sightings around them. Finally, there is “offensive space” where technologies can be used for radio-electronic suppression or even destruction of objects.
— What are the military space forces trump?
— After Barack Obama claimed that the United States is becoming more vulnerable, and insisted on maintaining the resilience of space assets, Donald trump announces “offensive control” over space, which requires investments in the amount of $ 8 billion over five years. The emphasis shifted, but the programme actually started already some years ago.
Americans want to be able to retaliate up to the land and to increase its resistance. The message is that “If you attack me, you will not be able to defeat me, because I have a lot of military and commercial vehicles, as well as allies.” Therefore, they develop bilateral cooperation and data exchange. The commercial sector is widely funded, so as not to use funds earmarked for the Pentagon. This extended space base and the concept of offensive deterrent fuel control double discourse “to minimize the benefits of intruders” and to “impose costs”. The cosmic forces of the United States is very symbolic advertise this policy. New developments most likely are not expected, but funding is significant. First will be recreated space command, combining existing services.
This reorganization will receive a powerful infusion. Project Space Fence plans in the next five years to increase ten times the number of controlled space objects. This should replace the radar system of the Navy and air force to capture everything that happens in a low orbit, and to detect more objects in the higher frequency ranges. The transition from being under the supervision of 20 000 to 200 000 means that will keep track of all small objects (up to 10 cm).
— What are the problems of joint use of military outer space with civilian actors?
The duality has always existed. It’s not just tasks, but also and means: the same objects can be used in space for various purposes. Thus, “active debris removal” useful for civil space, and the need to “clean” the space has never been so relevant. But the system is able to remove the debris, can destroy different objects, and this can cause conflict.
Starting the project “Planeta” offers, for example, 170 space mini-vehicles, equipped with a camera with a resolution of 3 meters to 500 kilometers. This is not something unusual, but it allows you to detect any changes with high frequency. Planet sells their services to provide three times a day information about what is happening in all corners of the globe, arguing that it is important to do survey of Land to use artificial intelligence to combine images with other data: “We sell information.” Becomes problematic to obtain an information system in support of the space system. Space is getting closer to the world of the Internet and real-time.
The United States was preparing it since the 1990-ies. In 1994, they liberalized the Earth observation with a resolution of one meter. The same for GPS in 1996. Simultaneously, policies have been developed agreements launchers. This development was accompanied by a “revolution military Affairs”, based on the control information. He has a civilian counterpart to the famous project “information highways” aimed at the policies of the global infrastructure and standardization of the Internet, which will expand the possibility of “Google”, “Apple”, “Facebook” and “Amazon”.
There was an industrial and political coherence. The aim was to give meaning to the instruments of the cold war as a means of power, connecting them with the new information world. Thus, the space is still a vector of force: with strong links with the information space it brings benefit to anyone who is technologically advanced, financially powerful and politically strong in the international arena. The cycle closes on the participants type Mask and Bezos, are able to develop military weapons. A large community of actors in the United States is making itself increasingly known, Recalling the “Star wars”, whose main purpose was to destroy all potential competitors.
— It turns out that outer space is impossible to protect with contracts?
— I must admit that space is becoming more vulnerable, and that this confrontation forces us to arm ourselves. Draft treaties on the limitation of an arms race in space is small, incomplete and have no real future. However, in space national security is through collective security, and the various participants support the idea of a common space. Here we are all interdependent. The real risk today is that any satellite may be subject to attack, while the owner does not know about the incident. Hence the desire of Americans to have the maximum information to monitor just what is happening and to promote a political framework to refer to those who do not play by the rules.
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