In what marks a shift in modern geopolitical skirmishes, space has emerged as the foremost theater for gray zone warfare and “space espionage,” mirroring tensions reminiscent of the Cold War.
According to the U.S. Intelligence Community, this contemporary “Space Cold War” is not merely a competition between nations aiming for stellar supremacy but manifests in foreign intelligence services attempting to pilfer vital technologies from U.S. private space firms.
“Foreign intelligence entities recognize the importance of the commercial space industry to the U.S. economy and national security, including the growing dependence of critical infrastructure on space-based assets,” reads a recent warning issued by National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). “They see U.S. space-related innovation and assets as potential threats as well as valuable opportunities to acquire vital technologies and expertise.”
Space plays a vital role in virtually every aspect of modern society. Essential sectors like emergency services, energy, finance, telecommunications, transportation, food, and agriculture depend on space-based technologies.
The U.S. commercial industry has given America a pronounced edge in space innovation, with companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin producing cutting-edge reconnaissance tools, communication satellites, and launch facilities.
In the last ten years, investment in the American space sector ($133 billion) has been nearly twice that of China (79 billion) or the rest of the world combined ($68 billion), according to Space Capital’s most recent quarterly report. However, with this significant success comes increased risks for space espionage, warns the Intelligence community.
NSIC, the FBI, and AFOSI say there are several goals for foreign intelligence services targeting U.S…