The Militarization of Space

While various agencies of the United States government first realized the importance of space weapons and space reconnaissance during the closing phase of World War II, the nation’s comprehensive space program was not developed until 1957, in reaction to the Soviet Union’s announcement of its successful launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik. In turn, each presidential administration since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s has developed and refined American policy in relation to the military uses of space.

The Eisenhower Administration was aware of Soviet capability and was forced into a policy with an emphasis on the militarization of space. The Kennedy years were marked by uncertainty and pressures to end the space race. The Johnson Administration, while having to place high priority on the war in Vietnam, nevertheless was able to consolidate policy and promulgate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. During Richard Nixon’s presidency, the Soviet space program accelerated with antisatellite weapons, and American policy was in a state of flux, reacting to Soviet policy. While President Jimmy Carter pushed to limit the military uses of outer space, the antisatellite program authorized by Gerald R. Ford continued. Finally, the Ronald Reagan Administration has stepped up the arms race in space, as evidenced by the Strategic Defense Initiative.

This book is an adaption of Paul B. Stares’s thesis, completed at Lancaster University. Making extensive use of primary and secondary sources, Stares provides a generally objective overview of a vitally important subject.