Article by Eurasian Times Desk October 4, 2020 (eurasiantimes.com)
• Although it currently trails the United States and Russia in volume of orbiting satellites, China has been expanding its network of military intelligence satellites. Last year, it conducted 32 successful rocket launches while the US executed 21 successful launches. And China is set to launch the core module for its Tianhe space station next year. According to ‘the Center for Strategic and International Studies’, China will become a major space power by 2030.
• The US House of Representatives ‘China Task Force’ has stated that “If the PRC [People’s Republic of China] succeeds in its efforts to launch its first long-term space station module in 2022, it will have matched the U.S.’ nearly 40-year progression from first human spaceflight to first space station module in less than 20 years.” Meanwhile, the China Manned Space Agency announced last month that the first Tianhe module of China’s first crewed space station has passed a final review, and has selected the crew of eighteen astronauts for its planned 2021 launch.
• A US DoD ‘Pentagon 2020 report’ notes that “Beijing has devoted significant resources to growing all aspects of its space program, from military space applications to civil applications such as profit-generating launches, scientific endeavors, and space exploration.” Beijing’s stated defense policy is to safeguard China’s security interests in outer space, electromagnetic space, and cyberspace.
• The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is vocal about plans to establish a human base on the Moon. The US should be concerned about the technological innovations and leadership role for the CCP that could come from missions crewed by PRC-nationals to the Moon,” the Pentagon 2020 report said.
• Analysts believe that the race between the US and China to militarize space increases the risk of war between the two global powers. “China is not the Soviet Union,” Chinese air force major general Qiao Liang warned. “If the United States thinks it can also drag China into an arms race and takedown China as it did with the Soviets … in the end, probably it would not be China who is down on the ground.” “China has little choice but to enhance its own capabilities,” said Qiao. “China’s purpose to develop space capabilities, firstly, is we do not want to be blackmailed by others.”
• Qiao insists that China hopes to use space peacefully. “But if others want to oppress us by occupying the heights of space and opening up a fourth battlefield, China will certainly not accept it,” said General Qiao. China and the US have seen a military escalation in the South China Sea where Washington has deployed several warships along with the B-52 Bomber. Beijing has mirrored these actions and has threatened to take action against US provocations. But China’s space capabilities may provide a strong counter to the US Space Force, and may reduce the risk of war if tensions escalate any further.
In recent developments, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) that works under the wing of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced last month that the first module of China’s space station, the ‘Tianhe’ module, has passed the final review.
Moreover, CMSA has selected 18 new astronauts to participate in the country’s upcoming space station project,
said a SPACENEWS report.
Out of 2,500 candidates, 18 were selected consisting of seven pilots, seven spaceflight engineers, and four payload specialists. It includes only one woman. This is the first time that the selection process was open for civilians.
Earlier in 1998 and 2010, only air force pilots were eligible to participate in the process, said the report.
With both the US and China racing to militarise space, the analysts believe is increasing the risk of war between the two global powers. “China is not the Soviet Union,” said Qiao Liang, a major general in the Chinese air force, in an interview with SCMP.
“If the United States thinks it can also drag China into an arms race and takedown China as it did with the Soviets … in the end, probably it would not be China who is down on the ground.”
Beijing’s stated defense policy is to safeguard China’s security interests in outer space, electromagnetic space, and cyberspace. “Beijing has devoted significant resources to growing all aspects of its space program, from military space applications to civil applications such as profit-generating launches, scientific endeavors, and space exploration,” stated the Pentagon 2020 report.
China who is currently trailing Russia and the US is set to become a space power by 2030. It has been expanding its network of military intelligence satellites. Last year, it conducted 32 successful rocket launches as per the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
This puts China on top for the second year in a row, exceeding the 21 launches in the US in 2019.
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