The United States’ satellites are under constant attack, and China could become the dominant space power by the end of the decade, according to a Space Force general.
“The threats are really growing and expanding every day. And it’s really an evolution of the activity that’s been going on for a very long time,” General David Thompson, the Space Force’s first vice chief of space operations, told the Washington Post.
“We’re really at a point now where there are a whole host of ways that our space systems could be threatened.”
The United States must deal “every day” with “reversible attacks” on satellites — which don’t permanently damage the craft — via non-kinetic tools such as lasers, radio-frequency jammers and cyber-attacks, the general said.
Experts from around the world have argued against the use of kinetic weapons against satellites, which could in the worst-case scenario exacerbate the amount of space debris around the planet and trap humanity on Earth.
China is building its own version of GPS and a “few hundred” intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance satellites. The number of launches is twice that of the United States.
“The Chinese are actually way ahead [of Russia]’ said Thompson. “They process operational systems at an incredible speed.”
He continued: “We are still the best in the world, clearly in terms of competence [but] catching up quickly,” and that the United States “should be concerned by the end of this decade if we don’t adapt.”
The Biden administration is reportedly trying to reach out to the Chinese Communist Party to set international standards for cyberspace and space, but Beijing is apparently not responding to negotiations.
Roscosmos and the China National Space Administration did not respond to requests for comment from the independent before the time of publication.
Russia “performed a non-destructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon in July 2020,” the United States space command said, and again in December of that year.
According to a Pentagon report, China is also making progress in developing missiles and electronic weapons that can target satellites in high and low Earth orbit.
The United States is reportedly planning to unveil its own space weapon that could apparently degrade or destroy a target satellite or spacecraft.