Will future social conflict revolve around the ownership of outer space?
India’s Space Program is busy planning its first unmanned landing on Mars; China is expected to conduct a manned mission in 2020; while in ‘Space Tourism’ Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic now offers sub-orbital spaceflights to space tourists.

Star Wars

Society has always been cosmic. In ancient China and Egypt daily life was organised around the movements of the sun and the heavens,while many believed that gods needed to be worshiped for social order to be maintained.Today, society is increasingly involved in the use of outer space, with satellites an essential part of today’s communications systems.Outer space is also being progressively used for military and surveillance purposes. Satellite guided drones, for example, are being used to observe and attack Taliban and Al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan, while tracking stations for the United States’ Strategic Defence Initiative, or ‘Star Wars’ programme,are still being proposed for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Outer space is fast becoming globalised,so much so that ‘outer space law’ is now being developed in ways that could make the ownership of outer space a reality. Some sociologists argue that the ways in which outer space is now being used benefits mainly those countries with economic, cultural and military muscle and it is therefore not impossible to imagine future social conflict revolving around the ownership of outer space.

Like the dreaded Death Star in the fictional Star Wars saga, there is a real danger of advances in space being led by what is technologically possible, rather than what is socially and environmentally desirable.