The bright sun greets the International Space Station in this photo taken from the Russian section of the orbital outpost by one of the STS-129 crew members, November 2009
NASA Handout via REUTERS

Last year, when the Trump administration unveiled plans to create a Space Force—originally conceived as an independent branch of the military to oversee operations in the great beyond—public responses to the idea tended to fall into one of two extremes. Champions celebrated the move as essential for promoting U.S. dominance in space and protecting national security; critics warned that it would unnecessarily militarize a domain where peaceful cooperation should prevail and that it could spark a space arms race. China’s landing of a rover on the far side of the moon last January—a first-of-its-kind feat—further stoked this debate.

But in reality, the image of space as a zone free from military competition is as fanciful as the notion that it can be subject to outright American dominance. Space is already militarized, and it has been since the start of the space age six decades

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