War in Space: Strategy, Spacepower, Geopolitics

By Bleddyn E. Bowen

Published by Edinburgh University Press, June 2020

War in Space presents a theory of spacepower and considers the implications of space technology on strategy and international relations. The spectre of space warfare stalks the major powers as outer space increasingly defines geopolitical and military competition. As satellites have become essential for modern warfare, strategists are asking whether the next major war will begin or be decided in outer space. Only strategic theory can explore the decisiveness and effects of war in space on grand strategy and international relations.

Bleddyn Bowen applies the wisdom of military strategy to outer space and presents a compelling new vision of Earth’s orbit as a coastline, rather than an open ocean or an extension of airspace as many have assumed. Rooted in the classical military works of Clausewitz, Mahan and Castex, to name a few, Bowen puts forward new principles for strategic thought about space that explain the pervasive and inescapable influence of spacepower on strategy and the changing military balance of the 21st century.

You can download the introduction chapter for free from the Edinburgh University Press website, under the ‘resources’ tab.

Watch the book launch event held on 7th July 2020 with the University of Leicester here.

This book is featured on the RAF Chief of the Air Staff Reading List, 2020-21, and its larger themes discussed by Tom Stevenson in the London Review of Books.

Praise for the Book

War in Space delivers groundbreaking insights using traditional continental sea power theory as a template for strengthening space power theory. The largest contribution to space power thought in a generation, Bowen’s seminal ideas are destined to inform wide audiences and guide our way ahead as space becomes increasingly contested and the USA stands up its Space Force.”

– Peter L. Hays, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University

‘An impressive and comprehensive study which makes a significant contribution to spacepower theory and will undoubtedly take its place on the essential reading lists of universities and defence academies around the world… it is required reading for any student of International Relations or Strategic Studies.  It is also required reading for any serious practitioner (from any service) who aspires to think clearly about how modern wars will be fought.’ 

– Andy Netherwood, The Wavell Room 

‘This is a book for the serious strategic thinker… Dr Bowen’s work is a significant contribution to the application of grand strategic principles to conflict in space…. Those engaged in postgraduate research on the strategic implications of space power will surely have to engage with this work, and someone coming new to the field will find much to provoke, stimulate and enlighten them. It stands as a testament to Dr Bowen’s scholarship, as a tour d’horizon of the space power thinking as currently understood and as a major attempt to advance the theoretical underpinnings of it… It is warmly recommended as a work that
will endure.’

‘Bowen gives solid answers on how to think about what warfare in space looks like and what it means for military planners and strategic thinking. War in Space is unquestionably a must-read book to all those interested in spacepower. Through its fluid writing and pedagogical character, the book is certainly accessible to non-experts readers. Nevertheless, the field of Strategic Studies is the one to be benefited the most from Bowen’s masterpiece, although International Relations scholars would also greatly benefit from joining such strategic debate.’

  • Augusto Dall’Agnol, E-IR 

‘Bowen is to be commended for such a thoughtful work of military theory that illuminates key aspects of recent and future warfare…  Any school in the professional military education system—regardless of service—could benefit from this book’s timeless approach as well as the interconnections Bowen draws between the space domain and other domains. Similarly, all military historians wanting to stay up to date on current national security issues and those with a broader interest in strategy will be rewarded by reading this interesting and provocative book.’

‘With this monograph… Bowen cements his place in the study of the theoretical and practical aspects of war in space. While this book is an essential addition to reading lists for space policy analysists, scholars and students of security studies, it is also an engaging read which will interest anyone with a background in military strategy and history, or even those with a more general interest in international relations… [Bowen] allows us to build our own view of space, and to thus understand the utility of our near earth space, and indeed its necessity to warfare, defence and modern power politics… Bowen achieves a singular definition [of power application to space], one that can, and I imagine will, be applied to practical space situations and academic discussions for many years to come.’

‘All analogies have their perils, but Bowen’s notion of space as coastline works when it comes to space weapons.’

  • Tom Stevenson, The London Review of Books
  • ‘The latest scholar to try to take Mahan’s crown… offers a broad view of how spacepower interacts with other aspects of geopolitics.’

    Order from Edinburgh University Press directly or from your usual online book seller. Currently in hardback, epub, and PDF formats for purchase. It is also available as an ebook subscription for Universities and other institutions – ask your librarian.

    A paperback edition is expected to release in 2022.