Call for debate into ‘military space race’

'The group highlighted a number of military space initiatives over the past two years.'

Protest at Newquay Spaceport | Photo: courtesy Drone Wars UK

Quakers are supporting calls for wider public discussion into military expansion into space.

The Northern Friends Peace Board (NFPB) backed the call made by the campaigning organisation Drone Wars UK last week after a failed military space launch from Newquay Airport. The mission aimed to place two pairs of military satellites in orbit, as well as civil and dual use satellites. But shortly after, Virgin Orbit, which is leading the mission, announced that the rocket failed to reach the required altitude and was lost. The UK Space Agency insisted they posed no danger.

Chris Cole, Drone Wars UK director, said the launch is part of ‘a new era of military space expansion by the UK with Britain wholeheartedly joining a space arms race which will inevitably lead to greater risk of instability and conflict’.

The group highlighted a number of military space initiatives over the past two years, including a new UK Space Command, a Defence Space Strategy, and ‘the announcement of a portfolio of new military programmes to develop space assets and infrastructure’.

Both Drone Wars UK and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) said the UK should be upholding and abiding by the Outer Space Treaty, signed in 1967, which recognises that space is a ‘global commons’ to be used for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of all countries and humankind.

Philip Austin, from the NFPB, referred Quakers to ‘For Heaven’s Sake – Examining the UK’s Militarisation of Space’, a joint briefing by CND and Drone War UK, published on the latter’s website.

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