NATO’s recently released space policy is a crucial step in positioning the Alliance as a leader in the sustainable, secure, and stable use of outer space for modern security and defense.
However, the increasing deployment of space capabilities presents significant challenges, including the weaponization of space and the likelihood of escalating tensions between nations. NATO’s strategy recognizes the potential threat of attacks on space infrastructure and acknowledges that such attacks could be as harmful as conventional attacks to national and Euro-Atlantic prosperity, security, and stability. However, the strategy does not provide details on the legal regime that should apply to outer space attacks, and questions remain regarding what would constitute a proportional response to an attack on a NATO member state’s vital satellite infrastructure and the international legal limits on waging war in space. NATO aims to enhance its space situational awareness and strategic communication capabilities to monitor the space environment, track and identify human-made objects in space, and improve its response and deterrence activities. However, the alliance must also address concerns from non-aligned members about NATO’s investment in outer space strategy, which may be perceived as having a dual-use application with offensive capabilities.