NATO foreign ministers have formally declared space as an “operational domain”, at a meeting in Brussels on 20 November.

The announcement is a response to growing concerns over protecting satellite and navigation assets from enemy interference, as it will make the alliance battle-ready on land, air, sea, computer networks and space.

The alliance plans to research space threats that could be identified as military threats. NATO’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, assured that the alliance has no intention to put weapons in space or develop its own space-based capabilities.

“Making space an operational domain will help us ensure all aspects are taken into account to ensure the success of our missions”, Stoltenberg stated.

The alliance will also prepare a new policy to defend its members against the military ambitions of China, who has the second-largest defence budget, after the United States, and is developing weapons it could use in orbit. Russia is also conquering space, as one of the few countries able to launch satellites into orbit.

“Space is part of our daily life here on Earth. It can be used for peaceful purposes. But it can also be used aggressively. Satellites can be jammed, hacked or weaponized. Anti-satellite weapons could cripple communications and other services our societies rely on, such as air travel, weather forecast or banking”, Stoltenberg said.