Outer Space Security

Steven R. Freeland, Elise Gruttner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter explains how, since the dawn of the space age, security has been a driving force in the development of technical capabilities in outer space. Over the last sixty years, the development of space-related technology has been inextricably linked to military capability—both real and perceived. Today, space is more accessible and depended upon than ever envisaged. The continuing development and reliance on commercial and military space technology challenges the core principle of the ‘peaceful purposes’ doctrine that underpins the current international legal regulation of outer space. The chapter explores the development of activities in outer space, the regulation of national and global space security, and the practical capabilities of leading spacefaring nations. It also highlights some of the critical issues that impact upon security-related concerns for States when it comes to the regulation of armed conflict in outer space. Ultimately, the use of outer space for military purposes gives rise to difficult international law issues relating to the use of force. What is not straightforward is precisely how various aspects of these activities are to be regulated at the international level should they transcend outer space and result in armed conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the International Law of Global Security
EditorsRobin Geiß, Nils Melzer
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198827276
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


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