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.
“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.”
“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. (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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