BEIJING: The United States is keeping a close eye on Chinese activities that could potentially threaten American assets in space amid rapidly accumulating debris in low Earth orbit. The head of America’s military mission in space said this on Friday. US Space Command Army Commander General James Dickinson welcomed the overwhelming passage of a resolution at the United Nations stipulating that countries will not test direct-flying anti-satellite systems that would massively destroy space. By creating debris, they threaten the existence of satellites and space stations.
Of the four countries that have tested such an anti-satellite system, only the US voted in favor of the proposal. While China and Russia opposed the resolution, India abstained. In a telephonic conversation with reporters in Asia, General Dickinson said, “We cannot continue to increase the amount of space debris.” Most of the debris is in critical low Earth orbit, which has become very crowded and a hotbed of competition and conflict. He said the number of objects in space is increasing rapidly, and even small pieces of metal can pose a threat.
China is making rapid progress in the field of space
Dickinson said the US Space Command monitors more than 48,000 objects in near-Earth orbit, including satellites, telescopes, space stations, and debris of all sizes. He said that three years ago, the number of such items was around 25 thousand.
In 2003, China became the third country in the world after the US and the former Soviet Union to send humans into space. Since then, its human space program has grown rapidly. In 2007, China faced much international criticism for conducting an unannounced missile test to blow up one of its defunct satellites in space. Due to this test, a large amount of debris was spread in space, which remains a threat.
America’s close watch on China’s capabilities
Dickinson said, “Beijing perceives that space is an important factor not only for its economy and the global economy but also for the military sector.” In such a situation, when he is continuously increasing his space capabilities, then we are keeping a very close watch on his activities. In addition, the Pentagon released the annual China Security Report last week, which warned that Beijing could have 1,500 nuclear weapons by 2035 and did not specify how it plans to use these weapons.
‘Space is a zone of conflict. It is important to protect it.
Dickinson said China is “building capabilities that threaten most of our assets in space.” He said Russia’s war against Ukraine has also shown that space is a “confrontation center that needs to be protected.” This is a role that the US Space Command is taking very seriously.