Russia and China have been increasingly investing in and expanding their space programs in recent years, creating new threats US Security in Outer Space. The two countries are reorganizing and reforming their space forces, according to Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officials.
Kevin Ryder is a Space and Counterspace Defense Intelligence Officer. He said that China wants to become the world’s dominant space power.
“China, in particular, has put a lot of economic and military power into its space development,” Ryder said.
The DIA recently released a report on Security challenges in space. It explains that of the 541 satellites China has sent into space, most are used for reconnaissance or intelligence gathering.
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“They want to see what we’re doing, but they’re denying us the use of those images,” Ryder said. “They want to be able to communicate, but they deny us the use of these means of communication. And they want to be able to use these tools for navigation while denying us the ability to use GPS for navigation.”
Defense Department officials and many Americans were concerned when China flew a balloon over classified sites in the US. Experts say the balloons are just a small part of Beijing’s surveillance efforts. John Hutt is the head of the Office for Space and Counterspace. He said surveillance satellites also pose a major threat.
“These intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets are flying over the United States several times a day over all the places where this activity has taken place,” Huth said.
– said Hut China is specifically building assets deny the US and allies the use of space.
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“These same antispatial possibilities can affect what we expect from everyday life,” Huth said. “Things like going to the ATM, getting gas, talking on mobile phones getting internet and many other things. A day without space is something most Americans probably haven’t given much thought to.’
According to a DIA report, Russia publicly supports space arms control agreement – but its military doctrine says otherwise. DIA’s assessment is that “Russia views space as a combat domain and that achieving dominance in space will be a decisive factor in winning future conflicts.”
Representatives of the Ministry of Defense are also concerned about cooperation between Russia and China in space.
“China and Russia perform in and organizations such as the UN for the peaceful use of outer space,” Ryder said. “But at the same time, they continue to develop these counterspace capabilities to deny or disrupt and maintain that space advantage.”
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The US has maintained superiority in many aspects of space. It is the only country that has landed a man on the moon. The last landing was in 1972, and now the race to return to the moon is a central focus of the Chinese and Russian space programs.
China and Russia plan to build an International Lunar Research Station by 2035 mainly consist of robotic technologies with the ability to support human visits.
“The moon is basically in space, at a notoriously high altitude,” Huth said. “So what they’re trying to do is get out there, see what the opportunities are, how they can work. And there’s even potential for mining on the moon. There are rare earth minerals there that they can collect and use. “
The US has similar plans to explore the moon with other allies. NASA Artemis program lays out an ambitious schedule for his return to the moon. The next landing is scheduled for 2024 to begin work on the Lunar Gateway, which will be the first planned extraterrestrial space station in lunar orbit. The module is planned to be launched in 2028. Plans to establish a base camp on the surface of the Moon are scheduled for the early 2030s.
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Another growing piece of space junk concern for scientists. Experts say China and Russia deliberately exacerbated the problem by destroying malfunctioning satellites. The tests were a trial run to see if it was possible to eliminate active satellites.
“These were tests that show their intent when they develop these anti-satellite missiles to disrupt or destroy U.S. capabilities, especially during a conflict,” Ryder said.
The tests also created thousands of pieces of debris, adding to the tens of thousands already orbiting the planet.
“A lot of it is what we call untraceable lethal waste,” Huth said. “They are traveling at 17,500 miles per hour. And there are many other larger dead objects the size of a car or larger that are also traveling at 17,500 miles per hour. If and when they do collide, and they sometimes do, it could be disastrous for anyone active spacecraft or spacecraft that are occupied by astronauts, astronauts, or others.’
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According to the DIA report, there are more than 1,300 objects that exceed a car in size and weight.
“The space station maneuvered from 1998 until this past year, about 30 times as I recall, just to get out of the way of the debris,” Huth said.
Most recently, International space station was forced to maneuver twice in one week to avoid a collision. The number of objects in space is only increasing. SpaceX launches satellites about once a week. Some estimates suggest that by 2030, there could be more than 100,000 satellites in low Earth orbit. Defense Department officials say they are working with governments and private companies to make sure some objects are de-orbited as new satellites arrive.
“It’s basically a responsible use of space,” Ryder said. “You know what’s out there? Let’s try not to create more.”
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Despite threats and concerns about competitive space programs, experts say US program has come a long way.
“There’s been a revival,” Huth said. “The things we do to explore space, to better understand space, to use the environment in a positive way are all for the good.”