Original Sin

Power, Technology and War in Outer Space

October 2022 9781787387775 344pp
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


Space technology was developed to enhance the killing power of the state. The Moon landings and the launch of the Space Shuttle were mere sideshows, drawing public attention away from the real goal: military and economic control of space as a source of power on Earth.

Today, as Bleddyn E. Bowen vividly recounts, thousands of satellites work silently in the background to provide essential military, intelligence and economic capabilities. No major power can do without them. Beyond Washington, Moscow and Beijing, truly global technologies have evolved, from the ground floor of the nuclear missile revolution to today’s orbital battlefield, shaping the wars to come. World powers including India, Japan and Europe are fully realising the strategic benefits of commanding Earth’s ‘cosmic coastline’, as a stage for war, development and prestige.

Yet, as new contenders spend more and more on outer space, there is scope for cautious optimism about the future of the Space Age—if we can recognise, rather than hide, its original sin.


Featured in the RAF Chief of the Air Staff’s Reading List 2023. 

Original Sin is a comprehensive and thorough account of the particular “fall” of developing space-related technologies with military uses.’ — Professor Lawrence Freedman, Foreign Affairs

‘Convincing.’ — New Scientist

‘Every page of this book is suffused with unrivalled knowledge of space technology and its implications for international relations.’ — Morning Star

‘A comprehensive and thorough account of the particular “fall” of developing space-related technologies with military uses.’ — Foreign Affairs

‘Bleddyn Bowen proves himself to be… a leading expert on the politics of space.’ — Politique étrangère

‘A seminal work that critically dissects the evolution of space technology within the context of global power dynamics.’ — Stratheia

An indispensable introduction to the field of astropolitics, helping us to think about outer space security in a volatile geopolitical context.’ — Journal of Cyber Policy

‘A fascinating new book… examining how the military has shaped the use of space in countries around the world.’ — The Space Review

‘[Bowen] offers a robust framework for understanding the politics of security on orbit …. [Original Sin is] a timely and welcome contribution to our understanding of space, politics, and security in the modern era.’ — Diplomatic Courier

‘This work should have pride-of-place in the book collections of Guardian and other military space operators, outer space enthusiasts, and space-minded members of the general public.’ — Air University

‘What sets Original Sin apart from similar books is the outstanding context it provides and its willingness to challenge trite slogans attached to space power.’ — United States Army War College Press

Original Sin is an important new book in space studies by Bleddyn Bowen. A must read.’ — Professor Asif Siddiqi, Fordham University, New York

‘A work from Britain’s leading thinker on astropolitics… Dr Bowen strips away any pretence that space is not already a war-fighting domain.’ — Tim Marshall, bestselling author of The Power of Geography and Prisoners of Geography

‘The perspective on space Bowen brings is meant to–and does–challenge the reader. There is much of value here to chew on, and any serious space power student or practitioner needs to pay careful attention to his arguments.’ — Everett Dolman, Professor of Comparative Military Studies and Strategy, US Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College, and author of Astropolitik

‘This book sets out to describe how the militarisation of space is not a new policy issue or trend in world politics, but a long-established historical fact and present reality. Original and compelling, this will be of interest to anyone seeking a history of technology’s role in space strategy.’ — John J. Klein, author of Understanding Space Strategy

‘A fresh, timely and detailed account of the military-political origins of spacepower and the future of warfare in space.’ — Deganit Paikowsky, author of The Power of the Space Club

‘Bowen persuasively demonstrates that space technology is the outcome of war, and driven by military applications. By exposing the hidden face of space, this book makes a critical intervention towards a peaceful world.’ — Alice Gorman, author of Dr Space Junk vs the Universe

Original Sin makes the valid argument that, far from us existing in a new “space race”, the history of space exploration has always been about power, politics, political economy and the pursuit of national interests on the global stage. A satisfying and insightful read from a deeply knowledgeable expert.’ — Tim Stevens, Senior Lecturer in Global Security and head of the King’s Cyber Security Research Group, King’s College London

‘Just as space security is becoming more urgent, Bleddyn Bowen has delivered a remarkable account of the seventy-year-long militarised Global Space Age. Original Sin’s compelling narrative will be of great interest to scholars of military strategy, Cold War historians, and policymakers.’ — Aaron Bateman, Assistant Professor of History and International Affairs, George Washington University

‘[Bleddyn E. Bowen] reasons that the more complex and complicated the new space ecosystem becomes, the more likely competition and potential conflict become.’ — RAF Chief of Air Staff’s Reading List 


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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