Space is vital to the functioning of modern societies. Satellites are critical nodes for civilian communications, the infrastructure of modern economies. They are essential to GPS, a system that is integral to countless devices, and not just car navigation systems: It is used for banking, mobile phone operations, aircraft and fleet tracking, among many others. Satellites provide eyes on the ground in diverse situations, from crop yields to water levels. Over 60 countries have satellites in orbit, with some 20 more planning to join the club.

Just as important is the role they play in military operations. Satellites are strategic systems, the lifeblood of communications, offering real-time information about adversaries as well as guidance for missiles. Militaries such as that of the United States rely heavily on satellites, and attacks to blind, disable or destroy them are considered the equivalent of a first strike. That is why many governments have for years pushed for a treaty to demilitarize space and ensure that it remains open to all users. Those efforts have thus far come to naught.

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