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Since their inception, satellites have become an indispensable and integral part of modern high-tech world.

Since their inception, satellites have become an indispensable and integral part of modern high-tech world. It is especially true for military satellites. Space becomes the arena for demonstrating technological power, from the launches of reconnaissance satellites to the testing of various weapons. Space exploration has increased the possibility of military intelligence. Thousands of satellites monitor the planet constantly, and each of them has its purpose and objective. They are designed for a variety of scientific and applied problems. Therefore, it is considered as a highly negative problem of satellites. Other problems are associated with their negative effect on the environment. These days, the use of satellites in space brings many negative aspects, including their military usage, environmental problems, and space debris

Satellites are man-made objects that perform different functions, some of which are negative. Today, artificial satellites are launched by many countries. As Maini and Agrawal note, in addition to their numerous functions, “they effectively do the job of a spy”. At the same time, numerous negative aspects are connected with satellites. The military usage of outer space is an extremely important issue these days. This concept of the use of outer space has been rather vague for a while. Recently, the militarization of space has become extremely relevant in the activities of the military departments and organizations of numerous countries. Various space programs plan to use the outer space for military purposes, and there is nothing reprehensible in this. In such a way, it is possible to trace the militarization of space. A great number of satellites enables many countries to use their them for constant tracking and monitoring for military purposes. Thus, all countries involved in space activities can use satellites for the achievement of military objectives.

Every country’s space activity begins from any device of the remote sensing of the earth. Any of these devices can be used for military purposes such as planning of different operations, surveillance, an independent review of a certain region of the planet, and intelligence. Navigation is considered a highly important military function. Moreover, Maini and Agrawal state that “satellite-based navigation systems represent a breakthrough in this field”. With the help of navigation satellites, it is possible to determine the location of enemy aircrafts and warships. This information can be highly significant for submarines. Images of optical satellites serve primarily to determine the strategic potential of the enemy and examine the location of various industrial and military objects, including command centers, military bases, defense enterprises, landfills, and others. In addition to strategic planning, information from space-based surveillance is of particular importance for the control of the existing international agreements on arms limitation. Furthermore, the increase in definition of the images obtained from satellite surveillance and the acceleration of the process of their elaboration allow using satellite optical reconnaissance for the organization of fighting at the tactical level. Radio engineering intelligence is considered another highly important military function of satellites. It involves listening to electromagnetic radiation in the radio-locating observation and microwave range. Direction finding of radio emission and passive registration makes it possible to define the performance characteristics and location of the enemy radar. Thus, it can be an essential method for the development of countermeasures. Listening to radio communication allows associating them with objects observed on the photographs, thus specifying the location of communication and command and control centers. Moreover, the intensity and nature of radio communication reflect the way of operation of the enemy armed forces. Their change can determine combat readiness before it is evident in the data of optical reconnaissance. It is significant to note that every developed country uses all the mentioned functions of satellites, and thus, there is currently an arms race in space.

In addition, many accidents have been connected with nuclear satellites. Thus, as Dumas believes, “nuclear-powered military satellites and spacecraft also pose a real danger”. In 1964, an American navigation satellite SNAP-9A crashed. It did not go into the orbit, subsequently crashing into the Indian Ocean. The accident of the satellite led to sputtering of 629 TBq 238Ru in the atmosphere. About 95% of this plutonium fell to the Earth’s surface by the end of 1970. The fall of SNAP-9A led to a significant change in the ratio of 238Pu / 239,240Pu in global fallouts. Moreover, several years later another crash occurred. The accident of the Soviet satellite Cosmos-954 in 1978 led to the release of fission products from the on-board nuclear reactor into the environment. Approximately 3/4 of these products scattered in the upper atmosphere. The wreckages were found in North America. Therefore, a great number of fission products were released into the atmosphere. The crash of satellites, which have been on the orbit for a long time, is especially dangerous. It has a great impact on the atmosphere, weather, and climate. Until recently, such an impact was convincingly denied. These days, some experts, conducting observations, statistical processing, and computer modeling, have concluded that the launch of a rocket can lead to changes in weather conditions on both sides of the Atlantic. Thus, environmental problems are considered one of the most serious disadvantages of satellites.

Another negative aspect associated with satellites lies in the fact that later, they become space debris. The debris from the planet’s orbit include inactive satellites and their fragments, resulting from intentional and accidental explosions. It must be remembered that from 4 to 10% of missile launches are failures. There are tons of abandoned satellites around the planet, circling at an incredible speed. Furthermore, the amount of space debris grows every year and eventually, it will be out of control. Moreover, the sizes of space debris vary from fractions of a millimeter to 5-6 meters. There are about 8,000 fragments larger than 10 cm. This information allows Baiocchi and Welser to claim that “orbital debris represents a growing threat”. As used satellites are a part of the debris, they also represent a growing threat; thus, they are under constant tracking. Therefore, another great disadvantage of satellites is that they become space debris causing threat.

At the same time, one of the most noticeable advantages of satellites is that with their help, people can trace and study weather conditions. Indeed, “weather forecasts can save life”. Knowing current weather conditions is essential for farmers, pilots, sailors, and regular people. Furthermore, space launching of satellites is of great importance. It is widely used in geology. With the help of satellites, geologists have photos of vast areas and entire continents. This fact makes it possible to detect large geological structures that are associated with deposits of minerals, which a great advantage of satellites. Nonetheless, as mentioned above, satellites not only study weather conditions, but they also harm them. Thus, an advantage has turned into a disadvantage. Therefore, the entire human experience shows that whatever a man begins to study and explore, along with undoubted benefits, there are new problems, including environmental issues.

It is necessary to state that people are proud of the achievements of space exploration. Space devices provided unique information about the planets of the solar system and distant star systems. Today, any developed country in the world cannot do without a mobile phone, television, radio, surveillance equipment for hazardous areas of the earth’s surface, space navigation, and space exploration. All these things are merits of satellites. However, there is also a reverse side of using satellites. The main problems include environmental problems, space debris, and the usage of satellites in military purposes. Moreover, these problems appeared almost immediately after the first large launches of satellites. Nonetheless, many decades are needed to realize their seriousness.