‘First Space War’ is chapter 29 of Insights from the Future, a book I’m writing about technology, innovation, and people … from the perspective of the future. THIS IS NOT NEWS; IT IS A PROJECTION OF FUTURE NEWS. Subscribe to my newsletter to keep in touch and get notified when the book publishes.
June 3, 2027
The first casualty of battle was the internet in Montana.
The second was space itself.
The First Space war started three days ago with unusual launches from submarine locations in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, allegedly from Russian submarines. 23 micro rockets just ten meters tall were carried to high altitude by balloons launched underwater. At 17 kilometers the rockets jettisoned the balloons and ignited their rockets. Minutes later 18 of them achieved low earth orbit, with the rest failing and mostly self-destructing. Each of the 18 then released somewhere around 100 killships which have been targeting Starlink satellites ever since.
So far over 1,500 Starlink internet satellites have been impacted at high speed by the killships, which simply rely on speed and impact to destroy their targets. Orbital speeds are in the tens of thousands of kilometers per hour. At that speed, simply kinetic energy suffices to destroy even large targets.
Another 200-400 are at risk, scientists say.
The first result is that Starlink customers all across the Northern hemisphere started losing internet access.
“Our Starlink internet just stopped,” Sasha Ortiz of Jordan, Montana. “It’s been such a life-saver, so much faster and more reliable than our old provider. I could even stream Netflix in 4K.”
The second result is that the cloud of space junk which already made space travel challenging has grown a thousand-fold. There were already millions of pieces of space junk from all the shuttle and rocket missions to date — up to six tons worth, according to some estimates — and the violent destruction of thousands of Starlink satellites will add millions more. To make things worse, each new piece of space debris is a threat to any satellites that survived, including non-SpaceX satellites. And while SpaceX says that due to their low earth orbit most of the space junk will eventually fall to the earth and burn up in the atmosphere, that could take years. In the interim, supply missions for NASA’s moonbase and the young 250-person colony on Mars could be grounded.
The big question, of course: who’s responsible.
That remains to be proven, but Russia is one suspect. The nation has been a vocal critic of Starlink and has banned its citizens — somewhat unsuccessfully, according to reports — from owning the internet-providing satellite dishes. Another suspect is China. The Great Firewall of China is threatened by an open internet with access to uncensored information from the rest of the world, and recent reports suggest the ruling party has been looking for ways to block its citizens from accessing SpaceX’s internet service.
While four of the five rockets that did not achieve low earth orbit self-destructed, one fell mostly intact near Sumatra, and a retrieval operation is underway. In addition, one of the first-stage balloons was recovered by a U.S. naval vessel, and the balloon is currently being examined for clues.
No one has taken credit for what pundits are already calling the First Space War, however, and whoever is behind the attack will have taken pains to mask their involvement. According to sources in the U.S. state department, however, only a few nation-states have the space tech capability — and the naval resources — to launch an attack like this, and the list isn’t much longer than the already-named suspects.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who frequently tweets news for his companies, has remained silent on Twitter so far. Some who are close to Musk say he is in a state of shock, and that wouldn’t be surprising. With the current state of affairs, all space travel including that from SpaceX, will have be reassessed.
U.S president Jennifer Singletary has yet to release a statement.
And Sasha Ortiz? It sounds like 4K streaming is out of the question now.
“I guess it’s back to Rural Broadband and ten megabits/second again. When it’s working.”
Again, this is a chapter of Insights from the Future, a book I’m writing about technology, innovation, and people … from the perspective of the future. Subscribe to my newsletter to keep in touch and get notified when the book publishes.