Original Sin

Power, Technology and War in Outer Space

October 2022 9781787387775 344pp
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Space technology’s ‘original sin’ is its militaristic heritage: Earth’s orbit was first exploited to enhance the killing power of the state. In Bleddyn E. Bowen’s vivid retelling, the Moon landings and the launch of the Space Shuttle were mere sideshows, drawing public attention away from the real objectives of this technology: gaining military and economic power for terrestrial purposes.

Today, there are thousands of active satellites in space, working silently in the background to provide essential military, intelligence and economic capabilities. No major power can do without them. Beyond Washington, Moscow and Beijing, Bowen’s story of ‘space-power’ charts the evolution of truly global technologies–from the ground floor of the nuclear missile revolution, to today’s orbital battlefield shaping the wars to come, as world powers including India, Japan and Europe fully realise the strategic benefits of commanding Earth’s ‘cosmic coastline’.

Yet, as new entrants gradually but methodically spend more on outer space, as a stage for war, development or prestige, there is scope for cautious optimism about the future of the Space Age–if we can recognise, rather than hide, its original sin.


Bleddyn E. Bowen is Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Leicester, specialising in space policy and military uses of outer space. The internationally recognised author of War in Space, he consults on space policy for institutions including the UK Parliament, the European Space Agency, and the Pentagon.

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