It’s been more than 70 years since the end of World War II, but global tensions are once again reaching fever-pitch levels. China, flexing its military muscle, has added 3,200 acres of land in seven “man-made” island locations in the disputed territory of the South China Sea. North Korea, an alleged ally of China, is threatening the U.S. with intercontinental nuclear missiles. And Russia, fresh off of accusations of manipulating the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has flown military jets within striking distance of Alaskan airspace and American warships. Indeed, we’re closer now to world war than we have been in three decades…But as senior analyst Jonathan Rodriguez notes, a whole new type of war is brewing — in outer space.

Fire in the Sky

For as long as man has recorded history, war has been fought on land and sea, and, more recently, in the air. But as the world advanced technologically, so have our weapons — and our battlefields. In addition to traditional methods of defense, governments around the world have been preparing for war on a variety of new fronts. Aiming to thwart attacks on critical network infrastructure, specialized solider units have been trained to fight off hackers. Heck, even bankers are being militarized and simulating attacks on the financial markets, such as competitive currency devaluations. You may have heard this called the “currency wars.” Yet one battlefront is often overlooked. I’m talking about the more than 1,300 active satellites orbiting around Earth. As you know, satellites are critical to modern civilization. They facilitate cellphone transmissions, GPS navigation, weather forecasting and even power generation. And many of these satellites are vulnerable to attack, not only from missiles launched from the ground — but also from weaponized satellites above.

Enter the Satellite Killer

In 2007, China destroyed one of its defunct weather satellites with what’s known as a kinetic kill vehicle (KKV). KKVs are launched into space on top of a ballistic missile. A kinetic kill vehicle is a projectile designed to destroy an object using the force of impact, as opposed to an explosion. They were initially developed in the 1980s to destroy incoming intercontinental nuclear missiles in space. China was, naturally, secretive about the whole operation, and the exact details of the weapon are unknown.

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