The Security Dilemma in Earth Orbit: A New Space Arms Race

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This thesis investigates the deep security dilemma in Earth orbit, taking the space arms race that has been ongoing since 2007 as the point of departure. Building upon Robert Jervis’s conceptualisation, three indicators from the offence-defence theory were derived to investigate the intensity of the dilemma. These were based on the space domain itself, on states’ posturing in space, and on the nature of space weapons. My analysis showed that the dilemma is driven by a combination of offence-dominant factors, strongly advantageous to would-be attackers. This combination is deepening the security dilemma, incentivising aggressive state posturing, and increasing the likelihood of spiralling escalation. In addition, I proposed an effects-based typology of space weapons in an effort to find a new definition for this currently ambiguous concept, and explored the potentially catastrophic consequences of the use of such weapons with regards to the international security situation and the space environment. Finally, a possible avenue for arms control is given which could contribute to preventing the most harmful consequences and may alleviate the security dilemma.
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