Astropolitical Developments in Indonesia: Are They the Same as Developed Countries?

Issues regarding defense and security are now experiencing increasingly complex developments and no longer include land, sea and air areas, but the control of outer space.

Issues regarding defense and security are now experiencing increasingly complex developments, where the areas that are the focus of defense and security no longer include land, sea and air , but have developed into control of outer space. Activities related to control of space, both military, advanced technology and overall strategy, have become known as “astropolitics”. Astropolitics is defined as one of the focuses of studies first developed by Everett Dolman. This study is intended to describe in detail the relationship between the space field and technology, the development of political and military policies, as well as space and aerospace strategies. Control of outer space is then considered more profitable than control of other areas such as; land, sea and air areas. This is because control of higher ground or space makes the monitoring reach wider. Apart from that, according to Dolman, the space region is an area that is rich in resources of aluminum, titanium, iron, calcium, silicon, and so on that can be utilized. Moreover, the outer region of space orbit is also used as a flight area for medium and long-range ballistic missiles. The outer region of orbit is referred to as Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) which Dolman uses as a vital region (heartland) of outer space.

The development of science and technology then also brought an increase in supporting technologies related to space, such as the United States and the Soviet Union competing with each other to develop the latest space technology, where this competition became one of the dominant aspects of the cold war and made the international world aware that the development of space exploration technology is not impossible. In its development, the study of astropolitics then led the UN to form the Space Treaty in 1967 which regulates all matters and activities for the exploration and use of numerical space, including space resources for peaceful purposes. Apart from that, the UN also formed a special body dedicated to managing state interests in the space sector, namely “The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space” (COPUOS).

Apart from the United States and the Soviet Union, Indonesia is one of the countries in Southeast Asia that has become interested in outer space and outer space studies since 1962. This is what prompted Indonesia to form an Astronautics committee on May 31 1962, by the first minister of the Republic of Indonesia, Ir. Juanda, who also served as Chairman of the Indonesian Aviation Council at that time, and R.J. Salatun as Secretary of the Indonesian Aviation Council. On September 22 1962, the Republic of Indonesia then formed the Initial Scientific and Military Rocket Project (PRIMA) which was affiliated with the Indonesian Air Force (AURI) and the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). Apart from that, Indonesia also succeeded in making and launching two Kartika series rockets along with the Telematrix series. On November 27 1963, Indonesia then formed the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (LAPAN) which was formed in accordance with Presidential Decree Number 236 of 1963. The formation of LAPAN was aimed at developing aerospace technology which focused on ‘Sonda’ booster rockets, satellites, transport aircraft, unmanned observation aircraft (LAPAN Surveillance UAV), and LAPAN Surveillance Aircraft (LSA).

In 1973 Indonesia also became the 37th active member of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space or UNCOPUOS. Indonesia always actively participates in sessions and various activities, with the aim of keeping abreast of developments in global space science and technology and taking advantage of the opportunities that exist from UNCOPUOS activities for space development in Indonesia. One of Indonesia’s active participation is by participating in ratifying international space treaties and also actively supporting the use of space to be used responsibly for peaceful purposes, the benefit of humanity of all nations, and the long-term sustainability of outer space. In 2002, Indonesia also passed Law Number 16 of 2002 concerning the ratification of a treaty regarding the principles governing the activities of countries in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies.

Indonesia has also carried out several international collaborations related to the space sector, including in 2005 Indonesia signed the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) agreement. This APSCO collaboration was officially signed by 8 countries, namely China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru and Thailand. On October 2 2013, Indonesia and China signed an agreement regarding cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. Forms of cooperation include cooperation in satellite research and development, cooperation in providing satellite launches, cooperation in remote sensing, cooperation in space science and technology training and others. This is done because based on Indonesia’s geographical, geostrategic and geopolitical position, the need to protect and maintain interests in the land, sea and air space above Indonesia is an important thing to do.

The development of astropolitical studies in Indonesia has experienced increasingly visible changes, where Indonesia is also carrying out various collaborations and developing technology related to space. In March 2022, the National Research and Innovation Agency also formed the secretariat of the Indonesian Space Agency (INASA), which was previously under LAPAN. The purpose of establishing INASA is to carry out several international obligations, including registering space objects belonging to Indonesia. In 2022, Indonesia will also be carrying out an astropolitical diplomacy program by collaborating with European Union (EU) countries in EU Copernicus. In this case, President Joko Widodo said in his state speech that Indonesia would begin to focus on astropolitical and space aspects by emphasizing research and development of experimental satellites that function for the use and utilization of communications satellites, remote sensing satellites, and satellites that function for carries out management and monitoring of orbits within the scope of security and defense of Indonesian satellite orbits in outer space.

The territory of Indonesia itself consists of a land area of approximately 1,922,570 square km and an ocean area of approximately 3,257,483. square km, so that the area of air space over Indonesia’s land and sea is 5,180,053 square km, this is why control over air space is very important for Indonesia. It is known that Indonesia’s air space borders directly with a number of other countries’ air space, including Australia (Melbourbe FIR and Brisbane FIR), Sri Lanka (Colombo FIR), Singapore (Singapore FIR), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur FIR and Kota Kinabalu FIR), the Philippines ( Manila FIR), United States (Oakland Oceanic FIR), Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby FIR), and India (Chennai FIR).

Indonesia’s astropolitical development plan through Indonesian air resilience and security, based on Law no. 21 of 2013 concerning outer space and presidential regulation no. 45 of 2017 concerning the National Space Master Plan. Security in the Indonesian space sector can be found in the legal regulations governing space activities in Law no. 21 of 2013 concerning Space, especially regarding the definition of security is regulated in article 1 paragraph 12. Looking at article 1 Paragraph 12 of 2013 concerning Space, Security is defined as all international efforts and commitments for every Space Operator to maintain and/or guarantee the use of Space and other celestial bodies for peaceful purposes and not causing damage to the earth’s environment and outer space through integrated use of human resources, facilities and procedures. Meanwhile, the threat perception is contained in article 8 of Law No. 21 of 2013, where Article 8 of Law no. 21 of 2013 concerning Space contains; every space activity is prohibited: (a) Placing, orbiting, or operating nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in outer space; (b) Carrying out tests of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in outer space; (c) Using the moon and other natural Space Objects for military purposes or other purposes that harm humanity; (d) Carrying out activities that could threaten the Security and Safety of Space Operations including the security of Space Objects, individuals and public interests; or (e) Carrying out activities that can cause pollution and/or damage to the earth and outer space environment and endanger space activities including the destruction of space objects. This means that the focus of Indonesian astropolitics is not on real air defense and security, but rather focuses first on strategies regarding the development of advanced technology for science and technology and also space research satellites. This is different from several developed countries such as the United States which already had the United States Space Force (USSF) during the 2018 Donald Trump administration, and China which already has a space armed force through its People’s Liberation Army.

Kun Dhayita H.M
Kun Dhayita H.M
Master's student majoring National Resilience in Gadjah Mada University.