We’re pleased to share this book review published in August 2019 by John Brantigan, MD, Executive Committee member at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA.
War in Space—The science and technology behind our next theater of conflict by Linda Dawson provides a detailed historical review of the multi-nations dedication to peaceful exploration of space while quietly maximizing their military capability in space. With a M.S. Degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from George Washington University, Ms. Dawson worked at NASA in the development of the Space Shuttle Program. I quibble a bit about the title: War in Space might attract science fiction fans, who will be disappointed. This book is about science and technology. It covers in detail the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 ratified by 104 nations dedicating outer space to be “free for exploration and use by all states” and prohibiting weaponization of space. Ms. Dawson reflects that the 1991 Gulf War was the “first space war” because GPS and other satellite capabilities were used to manage and control military operations. Satellite technology, not ordinarily designed for the average citizen, has now become an indispensable part of our lives. Disruption of GPS and its precision timing functions could quickly disrupt communications, finance, power distribution and other linked networks essential to ordinary daily life. GPS is vulnerable not only to “jamming,” which blocks the signal. GPS is also vulnerable to “spoofing,” a technique that generates a false signal, causing the receiver to indicate a incorrect position.
Ronald Reagan’s proposed space-based anti-missile system called the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) nicknamed “Star Wars” was perceived as aggressive by the Soviet Union because it proposed space-based lasers and other weapons to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles. Nevertheless, numerous nations are developing anti-satellite weapons and are competing to achieve dominance in outer space.
Who is this book for? It is for those of us who wish to understand how science and technology of our space program affects not only our national security but also our daily lives. A previous reviewer who described a few technical errors ignored the meticulous detail, expertise, and clarity of writing of this narrative.
John W. Brantigan
Chairman, Space Flight Committee
Museum of Flight