The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to militarize outer space are threatening the United States’ ability to defend itself and project power, according to the U.S. Space Force’s chief of space operations.
“China has gone from zero to 60 very quickly,” said Gen. John Raymond. “They are clearly our pacing challenge.”
“Today, more so than in the past, we have to worry about protecting and defending [our] satellites.”
Raymond delivered the remarks at the Aspen Security Forum on July 20, where he said that the United States would need to lead the world in developing international norms of behavior for space.
A Cluttered Space
Raymond said that developing more codified rules for space and further developing U.S. space systems are important given the essential role of space-based technologies in deterring conventional conflicts and preventing the escalation of hostilities.
“Space provides a great opportunity to have one more … means to change the deterrence calculus … and to deter conflict from beginning or extending into space, which we feel would deter a conflict from spilling over onto land,” Raymond said.
He noted that virtually all of the world’s most vital systems—from GPS to missile defense to international banking verification—are space-based. And space, Raymond said, is becoming more congested, more competitive, and more contested.
Indeed, the number of tracked objects in orbit has increased from 22,000 to 50,000 in just the last two years, he said.
China on the Horizon
Beyond mere space debris, however, Raymond said that China’s communist regime poses a serious threat to the United States’ interests in space, and that the regime is building out a suite of different weapons to attack U.S. space infrastructure.
“There’s a full spectrum of threats that we’re worried about,” Raymond said.
“Everything from reversible jamming of communication satellites and GPS satellites … to kinetic destruction.”