The space race has a new opponent. After decades of competition and, later, cooperation between the United States and Russia (including the old Soviet Union before its demise), a new challenger has entered the field of battle in outer space, and this one is hell-bent for leather determined to unseat the United States as the dominant player outside of the atmosphere.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s report says that China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army, is poised to become the US’ greatest rival in space, setting far-reaching and ambitious goals “to gain the military, economic, and prestige benefits that Washington has accrued from space leadership.”
The report, released last Friday, said Beijing “has counter-space weapons capabilities” enabling it to target satellites belonging to the US and its allies.
“Beijing continues to train its military space elements and field new destructive and nondestructive ground- and space-based anti-satellite weapons,” the report said, adding that China already has ground-based anti-satellite missiles and lasers “probably intended to blind or damage sensitive space-based optical sensors” on US spacecraft.
It predicted that China will have an operational space station in low Earth orbit between 2022 and 2024, and will continue to conduct exploratory missions to the moon with the aim to establish a robotic research station on the lunar surface as a precursor to an “intermittently crewed” base.
The Communist Party-run government also plans to integrate its advancements in satellite reconnaissance, positioning, navigation, and timing with satellite communications into weapons-based systems “to erode the US military’s information advantage.”
The Chinese, not known for their adherence to the western system of conscience and morals, are essentially mounting an offensive against the west when it comes to outer space.
How long before they give it a shot on the ground?