With Chinese space exploration on the rise, the United States would do well to watch all developments very closely, writes Dean Cheng for the conservative website Heritage.org
Chinese progress in space includes the “third manned Shenzhou mission and a space walk, expansion of the indigenous Chinese Compass satellite navigation system, and deployment of a range of new remote sensing satellites, such as the Yaogan series,” said Cheng, a research fellow in Chinese political and security affairs for the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.
Several Chinese advancements could be considered measures challenging U.S. space superiority, he said.
“The best known example is the 2007 anti-satellite (ASAT) test, which generated an enormous orbital debris field,” Cheng writes. “Since then, the Chinese have conducted further tests with potential anti-satellite implications. . . . Such activities, undertaken deliberately, would be useful for practicing docking maneuvers or anti-satellite operations.”
Cheng cautions it is important to note that “China gave no prior notice of any of these tests, which has heightened concerns and underscored the opaque nature of China’s space program.”
Increasing Chinese space efforts and their subsequent successes threaten U.S. space superiority as well as “the ability of the United States to support friends and allies in the western Pacific, and American deterrence of potential aggression,” he writes.
“The U.S. government needs to take steps to ensure that it maintains the ability to secure space superiority,” Cheng wrote.” Such a position of strength is necessary for the Sino–American space relationship to develop along the oft-touted lines of mutual respect and mutual benefit.”
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