China has just gotten back from an historic 15 day training mission in space, marking a series of leaps and bounds in earth’s orbit.
They say their recent emphasis on space is for economic and military purposes, and the U.S. definitely notices.
From USA Today:
China flies fewer missions than the U.S. Apollo program, “but takes bigger steps,” said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor of national security affairs, and an expert on the Chinese space program, at the U.S. Naval War College. “They read the Apollo playbook, and know all the things the U.S. got from a human space program,” she said, including economic benefits, dual-use technology with military capability, and a boost for science programs and public interest.
The mission, dubbed Shenzhou 10, included manual docking with an orbiting space station, which showed off the prowess of China’s pilots.
China also recently shot an old satellite out of the sky with a ground-based, long range missile. They stayed mum about the missile at first, before finally admitting that it was an interceptor.
Again, the U.S. was spooked.
“Any time you have a nation-state looking to have a more aggressive posture in space, it’s very concerning,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, at a cybersecurity conference.
Near concurrent with the launch of a satellite-intercepting missile, Chinese communications firms inked a year-long contract with the Department of defence to provide satellite coverage for the U.S. over Africa.
Again, Washington lawmaker Rogers expressed misgivings.
The contract “exposes our military to the risk that China may seek to turn off our ‘eyes and ears’ at the time of their choosing,” Rogers, a Republican, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg.
Johnson-Freese later described the race between the China and the U.S. as a “tortoise and hare” type situation, respectively.
Well, when it comes to the rapid evolution of China’s space program, maybe the world is seeing the first instance of a leaping tortoise.
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