Spacepower and Space Warfare
: The Continuation of Terran Politics by Other Means

  • Bleddyn Endaf Bowen

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Space technologies and the tools of space warfare are proliferating across Earth. The use of spacepower in conflict necessitates strategic thinking. Strategic theory can guide and improve strategic thought about outer space. Drawing on strategic theory, this thesis develops a spacepower theory in the next step of a collective theory-making effort about warfare in the Space Age. This spacepower theory is based on seven distinct, complementary, and interacting propositions that aim to shift the debate of spacepower away from space weaponisation and the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), and towards a more holistic view of the vast possibilities granted by spacepower. This spacepower theory proposes that space warfare only has meaning in so far it works towards the command of space; that the command of space is about manipulating celestial lines of communication; that spacepower in Earth orbit is a place to conduct strategic manoeuvres to influence the wider war and grand strategic goals; and that the command of space can have direct meaning for battlefield success through its dispersing effects. The theory is based on three major strategic analogies from terrestrial strategic theory and experience. First, space warfare is a continuation of terrestrial politics. Second, space is like the sea in its most basic concepts. Third, Earth orbit is like a coastal region. The contributions of this work are a theory that assists the individual’s education on warfare in the Space Age that takes emphasis away from space-based weaponry and the RMA, and a treatise that demonstrates and encourages a pedagogical method of analysis in strategic studies. This has tentative implications for wider discussions of astropolitics in International Relations (IR) as well. IR will continue in its usefulness in the cosmos, while Terran IR today must account for the realities of the Space Age.
Date of Award29 Apr 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SponsorsEconomic and Social Research Council
SupervisorAlistair Shepherd (Supervisor) & Kristan Stoddart (Supervisor)

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