NATO to set up new Space Centre in Ramstein, Germany

The North Atlantic Treaty organisation is to setup a new Space Centre in Ramstein, Germany. The centre is to serve as a co-ordination Centre for space observation.

Highlights

The new Centre will gather information about possible threats to satellites. The centre is to be developed into a command centre of defensive measures in near future. The centre is being setup based on Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty organisation.

Article 5 of NATO

The article empowers the organisation to take collective defence action. It provides criteria under which NATO can take defensive measures.

Article 5 has been invoked by NATO in situations such as Syrian crisis, Russia-Ukraine crisis and 26/11 attack on US.

The article says that an armed attack against one or more of the NATO countries in North America or Europe is considered as an attack against all of them. Under this scenario based on Article 51 of the United Nations, article 5 can be invoked. Article 51 of the charter of United Nations says that a member has right to act in self-defence and shall assist parties so attacked by taking forthwith. The article also allows the member countries to use armed forces in such situations. However, this shall be carried on only on the interest of restoring and maintaining security of North Atlantic area.

Kester satellite ground station

There are more than 24 satellite ground stations being controlled by the NATO countries. The Kester satellite ground station located in Belgium is currently considered to be the central to space communication among NATO countries. Likewise, there are 4 other stations that play the role of Central hub.

There are two thousand satellites orbiting the earth. Of these, half are operated by the NATO countries. Therefore, it becomes essential for the NATO countries to safeguard their space resources.

Significance

This is being done as a countermeasure to aggressive behaviour of China and Russia. These countries are developing anti-satellite systems that could disable blind or should down satellites and create dangerous debris in the orbit. The NATO countries are creating the fifth domain after land, sea, air and cyberspace.

India in NATO

India is yet to sign the treaty. The process of joining the organisation is governed by article 10 of the Treaty. According to the article the countries become eligible to join the organisation only if they have signed agreements such as Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geospatial Cooperation, Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).

India is to sign BECA with USA during the 2+2 dialogue that is to be held by the end of October 2020.

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