China challenges the USA in space race

China challenges USA in space race

China is making rapid progress in space, challenging US supremacy with advanced satellites and anti-satellite weapons, warn US officials.

China’s ascent into space

The United States, which has dominated space since the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, is seeing its space supremacy challenged by China. U.S. officials, including General Stephen Whiting, commander of the U.S. Space Command, have highlighted China’s rapid progress in space since 2018. China has tripled its orbiting reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence satellites, building a “network of destruction” over the Pacific to target the military capabilities of the U.S. and its allies.

China’s militarization of space

In addition to increasing its satellites, China has developed a range of anti-space weapons, from reversible jamming to direct kinetic strikes and co-orbital anti-satellite (ASAT) satellites. The demonstration of ASAT technology in 2007, when a Chinese weather satellite was destroyed by a missile, generated thousands of pieces of debris in orbit, prompting international criticism. This approach shows that China now sees space as a combat domain.

China challenges USA in space race

US response

Faced with these challenges, the United States recognizes the need to act to maintain its advantage. Troy Meink, Deputy Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, stressed the importance of innovating with reconnaissance satellites to make them more numerous, agile and resilient. Heidi Shyu, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, also stressed the importance of diversifying U.S. space capabilities, incorporating radiation-resistant electronic technologies, varied orbits and increased cooperation with allies.

Space competition: a historic challenge

Today’s competition in space is reminiscent of the Cold War space race, initiated by Soviet successes. However, as General Whiting points out, although space has been the scene of competition between great powers, a war in space is not inevitable and would be detrimental to the United States, its allies and its way of life. The aim is to prevent conflict spreading into space.

China’s rapid rise in space competition poses significant challenges to US supremacy in space. This requires an innovative and diversified response to ensure resilience and maintain strategic advantage in an increasingly militarized field. International cooperation and technological innovation are key to navigating this new era of space competition.

War Wings Daily is an independant magazine.