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Military Space Ethics

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.” This book for many, will guide the journey.  Steven A. Schaick, Chaplain, Maj. Gen. (Ret).


As space develops as a potential war fighting domain, so does the need to have ethical scrutiny. Since the 1960s there have been core space treaties that together with national laws, provide a clear framework for both military and civilian space activities, yet ethical questions still exist around space warfare. Is it appropriate to respond kinetically on earth to a threat in space? Does just war theory apply in space and does the remoteness of space lower or raise the threshold for armed conflicts? Will the creation of new space forces start a space arms race? New combat environments also create a number of new challenges, including whether future war in space will be conducted by robots or space marines, and how the dual-use nature of satellites will impact on their permissibility as targets in any future conflict. As technologies become more widespread, space may be threatened by the likes of non-state groups and rogue states, leading to a need to inhibit their movement in space. In space, differences are magnified; resources are especially scarce, risks are multiplied, and specialized medical care is a world away. The physical and psychological distance between combatants in modern warfare applies also to space and the impacts of remote warfare need to be considered including the potential for moral injury and psychological trauma. With greater military power comes greater responsibility and this responsibility is carried out at the end of a chain of decisions and technologies. This book’s relevancy will not be lost on students at service academies and staff colleges in preparing them for the task of emphasizing ethical responsibility in space to those whom they will lead in the future.


The space domain is undergoing disruptive changes to the technologies brought to bear on a rapidly growing range of challenges by a rapidly growing cast of actors. It is very reasonable to assert “not if but when” as we consider the possibilities. Unfortunately, as the opportunities mount so do the risks, including the risk of “contested, congested and competitive” turning into conflict. At such a time, it is crucial for ongoing safe and secure access to space-based services that we actively consider the underpinning ethics – should we engage in a particular activity, not just can we achieve it technologically or legally? These are questions for both the seasoned space-faring nations and ambitious and agile newcomers alike. The excellent collection of thinking and analysis provided in this new book could not be more timely.

Professor Russell Boyce FAIAA, Chair for Intelligent Space Systems, Director, UNSW Canberra Space


Military Space Ethics is a crucial and timely addition to the field of professional military ethics. It is incumbent on military professionals to ‘think forward’ concerning the ethical application of emerging technology, as well as the ethical use of force in this new domain. With contributions from leading scholars and practitioners from across the globe, Military Space Ethics will serve as a useful resource for military leaders, policy makers, and anyone interested in what the future of warfare may bring.

Dr Rebecca Johnson, Marine Corps University, Quantico


360 pages  I   Size: 234 x 156mm  I  £19.99  

Publication date: 14th February 2022

Paperback: 978 1912440 290

Military Space Ethics

  • Foreword – Chaplain Major General Steven A. Schaick; INTRODUCTION Revd. Dr Nikki Coleman; Introduction to Military Ethics in Space Dr Stephen Coleman; PART ONE – EARTH TO THE MOON; 1. Future War: Will it be Conducted by Robots or Space Marines? Lt. Gen. Christopher D. Miller; 2. Does Just War Theory Extend to the Space Frontier? Professor Patrick Lin; 3. In Space No One Can Hear the Geneva Convention: Jus in Bello and Warfare in Space Professor Pauline Shanks Kaurin; 4. What Is Needed to prevent Conflict in Space? Daniel Porras; 5. Space Debris: Can We Remove the Landmines of Earth Orbit Without Starting a War? Dr Stephen Coleman and Revd. Dr Nikki Coleman; 6. Ethical Considerations on the Challenges of the Dual-Use Satellite Problem Sergeant Amy Hestermann-Crane; 7. The Growing Threat of Terrorism in Space Revd. Dr Nikki Coleman and Dr Stephen Coleman; 8. The Problems Posed by Non-State Groups and Rogue States Exploiting Space Flying Officer Kaylee Verrier; 9. Bioethics and Military Operations in Space Assistant Professor Sheena M. Eagen; PART TWO – RETURN TO EARTH; 10. Star Laws: The Role of International Law in Regulating Civic and Military Space Activities Dr Cassandra Steer; 11. The Woomera Manual: Legitimising or Limiting Space Warfare? Dr Cassandra Steer; 12. Responding on Earth to Kinetic Attacks in Space Flight Lieutenant Geordie Jacobs; 13. Rocket Cargo: The Vanguard of the U.S. Space Force Nathan J. Phillips (Navy Officer ret); 14. Where Space is Not an Option: African Ethics and the Options on Non-Contenders in Space Warfare Ibanga Ikpe; PART THREE – TO INFINITY AND BEYOND; 15. The United States Space Force and Space as a Military Domain Nathan J. Phillips (Navy Officer ret); 16. From Peaceful Uses to Warfighting: The Dangers of the New Military Era in Space Dr Jessica West; 17. Post Traumatic Stress and Moral Injury in Extreme Remote Warfare Flying Officer Jayden Park; 18. What We Have is What We Bring There: Security in Space as Utopian Vision Dr Evie Kendal; 19. Vitoria the Universal Thinker: Some Ethical Dilemmas Concerning Space Exploration Francisco Lobo and Professor David Whetham; Index


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