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Surprising Science

Space: The Final Battlefield?

As China develops its civilian space program, many of the same technologies could be used to weaponize satellites, challenging the US in space. But is that just paranoid speculation?

What’s the Latest Development?

The US has rejected a code of conduct for space written by the European Union, saying that it will not compromise its own national security interests. The only country to land a man on the moon finds itself with a dwindling space budget while China, its principal economic rival, is quickly developing one of its own. Government strategists worry that civilian projects like China’s bid to establish its own network of global positioning satellites could be used for military purposes.

What’s the Big Idea?

Realizing that it could not hope to match the conventional weaponry of the US military, China is focused on developing cyber and space technology to improve its standing in the world. “One of the [China’s] most sensitive advances has been the secret deployment and testing of advanced anti-satellite (ASAT) and Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) weapons systems.” Should it wish to deny the US access to its surrounding seas, China might deter US action with carrier-killing missiles, given accurate guidance from new space satellites.

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