A U.S. congressional committee warned of China’s space weapons capabilities, including anti-satellite missiles that could threaten US national security.

The Long March 5B rocket leaves the launch pad in Hainan province, China on May 5, 2020. Photo: Reuters
The Long March 5B rocket leaves the launch pad in Hainan province, China on May 5, 2020. Photo: Reuters

The new report published by the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) stated that: “China pursues the goal of space domination, affecting economic competitiveness, weakening US military advantage, threatening strategic stability and national security ”.

China is accused of threatening the US satellite

The report details the 15-year history of China, which has developed a variety of space weapon systems capable of destroying or interfering with American satellites, including direct energy weapons (such as lasers), satellite signal jammers and anti-satellite missiles, with several systems deployed, according to The Washington Times.

China is stepping up its space program in recent years, and is now able to provide low-cost satellite launch services to international customers. In 2018, China conducted 38 successful launches, sending about 100 satellites into orbit. This year, China is expected to carry out more than 40 launches, according to the USCC. On May 5, China launched the Long March 5B rocket, bringing a new unmanned spacecraft into space. This is part of a separate space station building program to compete with the US and Russia. Meanwhile, the US Air Force on May 17 successfully launched the X-37B unmanned spacecraft into orbit. This is the 6th launch of X-37B to perform a new secret mission.

According to reports, the Chinese army has started training with anti-satellite missiles. The Chinese army now possesses ground-based electronic countermeasures, which can obstruct an opponent’s satellite to communicate, locate, search and rescue, early missile warning, according to US experts.

China bought ground satellite jammers from Ukraine in the late 1990s. Since then, China has been developing domestic satellite jammers. China’s jamming device can now interrupt, deny, or mislead satellite services, USCC noted. The committee also warned that China has upgraded jamming devices to attack communications via satellite, including frequency blocking used for military purposes. The Chinese military is also upgrading its cyber attack capacity to coordinate combat in a space war situation. Some of China’s other space weapons include small satellites used to attack suicide, destroying rival satellites, according to the USCC.

US actions to cope with Chinese space threats

The USCC recommends that the US Congress consider passing a new law to prevent private companies, universities and other organizations from supporting or cooperating with China in the field of space. However, the committee said that, although China’s space combat capability has improved significantly, the United States is still maintaining the leading position. In response to China, the US Space Command on March 19 deployed its first Counter Communications System Block 10.2 weapon. This is a new generation electronic jamming device that can disrupt communications via satellite.

The US Air Force abandoned the anti-satellite missile that was tested in the 1980s. However, an upgraded version of the SM-3 interceptor missile was used to shoot down a falling satellite in 2008, according to CNN. This shows that the US still maintains the ability to kill satellites. US Air Force Colonel Stephen Purdy, director of the space program at the Center for Space and Missile Systems at Los Angeles Air Base, stressed that future jamming devices would be an important weapon.

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