Tag: Russia

China vs the US and the Risks of a Space Rivalry

Article by Sarah Zheng                                    November 29, 2020                                (scmp.com)

• The recent voyage of China’s Chang’e 5 lunar spacecraft to bring Moon samples back to Earth was more than a signal of China’s ambitions to US military officials. To Space Force General John Raymond it represented a threat that China and Russia pose to American access to space. “The two countries seek to stop US access to space, Raymond posted on the DoD website. “[T]hey are developing capabilities that would negate the US advantage.” Raymond is calling for the US to work more closely with its allies, to “stay ahead of the growing threat.”

• Raymond’s approach would continue to deny China access to American technology and ensure a clear separation between the US and Chinese space programs. But Matthew Daniels, a senior fellow at Georgetown University, notes that the division between the US and Chinese space programs is due to US barriers, resulting in almost no direct links between the two countries in space technology research, development and operations. The US is ahead in technologies such as reusable launch systems and satellite manufacturing, but China is narrowing the gap. So cutting the US off from Chinese advancements in technology could come at a cost for the United States and miss an opportunity to reduce the risk of political conflict. So should the US cooperate with China in some areas or continue to freeze it out?

• Further limits on the transfer of space technologies to China could be carried out with still more barriers to US commercial space technology transfers, extra limits on US civil space engagement and coordination, diplomatic pressure on third parties working with both the US and China, and visa restrictions on Chinese aerospace researchers. In the long term, however, it could encourage China to establish a stronger space technology ecosystem of its own. China would then have more of a chance to build alternative international coalitions, including by drawing in Europe and Russia.

• “The current separation will probably continue to slow China in the near term,” says Daniels. “[T]his effect will diminish, however, and it may help grow indigenous supply chains and markets in China.” The US could thereby lose its international leadership in space, while missing a chance to obtain strategic information about China’s space activities and reducing the opportunity to manage crises and conflict.”

 

              Gen. John “Jay” Raymond

When the Chang’e 5 lunar spacecraft lifted off from a launch pad in southern China this week it was not just a signal of China’s ambitions to bring moon samples back to Earth. Half a world away in the United States, the launch was a sign to US Space Force General John Raymond of the threat that China – together with Russia – poses in blocking American access to space.

                      Matthew Daniels

“The two countries seek to stop US access to space, and they are developing capabilities that would negate the US advantage,” he said in an interview published on the US Department of Defence website.

Raymond called for the US to work more closely with allies, to “stay ahead of the growing threat” from China.

It is an approach that would continue to deny China access to American technology and ensure a clear separation between the US and Chinese space programmes.

But some observers say that this could come at a cost for the United States and miss an opportunity to reduce the risk of conflict.
The two space programmes are already “substantially separated”, according to Matthew Daniels, a senior expert for the Office of the US Secretary of Defence and a senior fellow at Georgetown University.

In a report published in October published by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Daniels said the division was due mostly to US barriers, resulting in almost no direct links between the two countries in space technology research, development and operations.

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US General Describes ‘China Threat’ in Space, Heating Up Rivalry

Article by Kristin Huang                                      November 26, 2020                                    (scmp.com)

• With the launch of China’s Chang’e-5 lunar spacecraft and Beijing’s first lunar mission to bring Moon rock samples back to Earth, US Space Force General John Raymond remarked that China was a threat that could block American access to space, and that the US had to strengthen ties with its allies to handle the “threat” from China and Russia over space.

• Meanwhile, a successful mission would make China just the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, after the US and the former Soviet Union. Xu Hongliang, secretary general of China’s National Space Administration, told a space aviation forum on Wednesday that there were more Chang’e missions to come and China was planning to build an international research station on the Moon. Xu also said China would explore small celestial bodies, retrieve samples from Mars and pass by Jupiter and back again. Said Xu, “[W]e welcome international space agencies to participate in China’s future lunar and deep-space exploration cooperation.”

• The space rivalry between the world’s largest two economies is heating up. Beijing has been planning to build its own space station for decades as an alternative to the International Space Station, from which China has been excluded by the US because of security concerns.

• US officials say that China and Russia show threatening behavior regarding space. Raymond referred to an incident in 2007 when China hit and destroyed a disused Chinese weather satellite, testing its own missile capabilities. Until then, space had been considered a “benign domain,” but it was now it is contested. “China and Russia caused this shift in the strategic environment,” said Raymond. China and Russia’s capabilities include jamming of GPS and communication satellites, and directed energy and kinetic destruction of US assets via missiles on the ground.

• Raymond noted that “space really underpins … all of our instruments of national power. [I]t provides huge economic opportunity, scientific opportunity and military opportunity”, and that the US is eager to enhance ties with its allies… in space.” “We have to have different space architectures and we have to have partnerships,” Raymond said. “We’ve got to make sure that we stay ahead of this growing threat.”

• In the first nine months of 2020, China has sent 29 satellites into space – two more than the US. But observers say that China is still lagging behind the US, as private companies such as SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin have taken the industry lead.

• China has grappled with launch failures. An optical remote-sensing satellite failed to enter its preset orbit in September, following another failed launch two months earlier, the Kuaizhou-11 commercial solid rocket, with two satellites on board. China also had satellite launch failures in March and April.

 

Rivalry between China and the United States in space exploration has reached new heights, with a US general saying China was a threat that could

      Space Force General John Raymond

block American access to space.

Just days after the launch of Beijing’s first lunar mission to bring samples back to Earth, US Space Force General John Raymond said the United States had to strengthen ties with its allies to handle the “threat” from China and Russia over space.

      China’s Chang’e-5 lunar spacecraft

Raymond’s comments came as the head of the Chinese space administration said the nation would launch more lunar probes and invite other countries to join China on its missions.

The China-US space rivalry intensified after a Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang’e-5 lunar spacecraft blasted off from Wenchang, Hainan province, on Tuesday morning.

In the first mission of its kind by any country in more than 40 years, the 8-tonne spacecraft comprises four components designed to bring samples back to Earth.

If the mission is successful, it would make China just the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, after the US and the former Soviet Union. But China’s space ambitions do not stop there.

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Air Force Secretary Barrett Calls for Clean-Up of Space Debris

Article by Frank Wolfe                                 November 16, 2020                                   (defensedaily.com)

• On November 16th, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett called on industry to help the US Space Force with cleaning up space debris to help avoid collisions in space. Barrett told the ASCEND 2020 forum sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “What we’d like to see in the future is not just tracking, but cleaning up that litter–figuring ways how do you consolidate, how do you get that hazard–17,500 miles per hour rocketing through space, it is a great hazard.”

• “Just think about the GPS system alone,” Barrett said. “Consider how much we depend upon the GPS system. It’s free and accessible to everyone globally, and it’s operated by just eight to 10 people on a shift. So a total of 40 people operate this extraordinary system upon which so much of our current economy depends. It’s broadly used. It’s transformative, but it’s fragile. So that space debris is really a danger to things like our GPS systems. We’ve got to replace those. We’ve got to minimize their vulnerability, and we have to have, as the Space Force will do, space capabilities that will deter others from doing damage to that system upon which so much depends.”

• According to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office (ODPO), there are 23,000 large pieces of debris greater than 10 cm tracked by the Space Force’s US Space Surveillance Network. Prior to 2007, the principal source of debris was from explosions of launch vehicle upper stages and spacecraft. But the intentional destruction of a weather satellite by China in 2007 and the accidental collision of the American communications satellite with a retired Russian spacecraft in 2009 greatly increased the number of large debris in orbit and now represent one-third of all cataloged orbital debris.

• US Space Command’s 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, California monitors 3,200 active satellites for close approaches with approximately 24,000 pieces of space debris, and issues an average of 15 high-interest warnings for active near-Earth satellites, and ten high-interest warnings for active deep-space satellites, every day.

• NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine recently suggested that nations that damage satellites are risking a legal challenge under the 1972 Liability Convention to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. In the only claim under the Liability Convention, the Soviet Union paid Canada $2 million after a Soviet nuclear-powered reconnaissance satellite crashed in western Canada in 1978, scattering radioactive debris.

• The US Space Force and the UK are working together to reduce orbiting space debris. Last year, the UK became the first nation to join the US-led Operation Olympic Defender to deter “hostile” space actors, such as China, Russia, and Iran, and decrease the spread of on-orbit space debris. The White House has noted that private companies are developing ‘on-orbit robotic operations’ for active space debris removal. Last March, Space Force chief General John ‘Jay’ Raymond announced that Lockheed Martin‘s ‘Space Fence radar system’ had achieved initial operational capability track smaller objects in low Earth orbit and in Geostationary orbit.

 

          Barbara Barrett

Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett on Nov. 16 called on industry to help the Air Force and U.S. Space Force with cleaning up space debris to help avoid collisions in space.

“For a long time, the United States Air Force has been tracking space debris, but there’s a lot more to be done,”

      progression of orbiting space debris

Barrett told the ASCEND 2020 forum sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). “What we’d like to see in the future is not just tracking, but cleaning up that litter–figuring ways how do you consolidate, how do you get that hazard–17,500 miles per hour rocketing through space, it is a great hazard.”

“Just think about the GPS system alone,” she said. “Consider how much we depend upon the GPS system. It’ s free and accessible to everyone globally, and it’s operated by just eight to 10 people on a shift. So a total of 40 people operate this

         Gen. John “Jay” Raymond

extraordinary system upon which so much of our current economy depends. It’s broadly used. It’s transformative, but it’s fragile. So that space debris is really a danger to things like our GPS systems. We’ve got to replace those. We’ve got to minimize their vulnerability, and we have to have, as the Space Force

                     Jim Bridenstine

will do, space capabilities that will deter others from doing damage to that system upon which so much depends.”

Barrett said that processes and doctrines to outline rules of the road in space and aid space traffic management are underway.
According to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office (ODPO), there are 23,000 large pieces of debris greater than 10 cm tracked by the Space Force’s U.S. Space Surveillance Network.

“Prior to 2007, the principal source of debris was from explosions of launch vehicle upper stages and spacecraft,” per ODPO. “The intentional destruction of the Fengyun-1C weather satellite by China in 2007 and the accidental collision of the American communications satellite, Iridium-33, and the retired Russian spacecraft, Cosmos-2251, in 2009 greatly increased the number of large debris in orbit and now represent one-third of all cataloged orbital debris.”

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