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In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the crewed spaceship Shenzhou-13, atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket, is launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gobi Desert, Oct. 16, 2021. 

POLITICS: China’s space operation poses an ‘incredible threat,’ US must adapt, Space Force general says


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China’s space operation is outpacing the U.S. two to one, posing an “incredible threat” that may make the nation the leading superpower in space by the end of the decade if the U.S. doesn’t adapt its approach, the vice chief of the U.S. Space Force warned on Sunday.

Gen. David Thompson appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” telling anchor Chris Wallace that while the U.S. is “still the best in the world” in the new frontier, China is on an “incredible pace,” confirming that it is launching twice as many satellites into space as the U.S. 

 SPACE FORCE GENERAL: CHINA, RUSSIA ‘CATCHING UP QUICKLY TO US’

“Our capabilities are the best in the world of space, but they’re moving aggressively,” Thompson said. “They’re moving quickly and we need to adapt our approach.”

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the crewed spaceship Shenzhou-13, atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket, is launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gobi Desert, Oct. 16, 2021. 
(Li Gang/Xinhua via AP)

The general described just how the Chinese are threatening the U.S. from space.

“[The Chinese] have robots in space that conduct attacks,” Thompson said. “They can conduct jamming attacks and laser dazzling attacks. They have a full suite of cyber capabilities.”

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Thompson also said China conducted an anti-satellite test in 2007 similar to the Russians’ destructive test last month, which saw the Kremlin take out one of its own defunct satellites.

“Absolutely an incredible threat that we have to address now and in the future,” he said.

Space Force, the general said, was created to understand these threats and to design tactics and techniques to counter them.

“It’s our job in the Space Force to ensure, should they propose to attack us with something like a space robot or other things, we have countermeasures, we have tactics and we have means to employ to prevent that attack from being successful,” Thompson said.

One method the Space Force is using to counter any potential space threats is to launch a swarm of lower-cost satellites each with lower individual capabilities that together equal the capabilities of earlier satellites that were individually expensive, sophisticated and were launched in smaller groups. 

U.S. Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson (L) and Air Force (retired) Col. Pamela Melroy testify before the Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on May 14, 2019 in Washington, D.C. 

U.S. Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson (L) and Air Force (retired) Col. Pamela Melroy testify before the Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on May 14, 2019 in Washington, D.C. 
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Thompson said the idea was to make it so there wasn’t “much value” in attempting to attack these satellites in space.

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Meanwhile, Thompson said that the U.S. tries to facilitate talks with China and Russia on proper and safe conduct in space.

“There are conversations ongoing. They put forward proposals as well, so do we,” he said, adding that talks have not proceeded very far in the recent past.



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