UPDATED 11:43 AM PT – Thursday, July 21, 2022
The Chief of Space Operations of the US Space Force stressed the need for international norms regarding operations beyond our orbit. Gen. John Raymond spoke out on potential threats to the US in space from China. In a speech at the Aspen Security Forum on Tuesday, Raymond said China is growing its space program at a fast pace and has the economy to continue doing so.
“They’re building space capabilities for their own use,” Raymond said. “Just like we’ve enjoyed space capabilities that we’ve been able to integrate, China has built a space program to do the same thing. This provides them advantage and that provides risk to our forces.”
— Gen. Jay Raymond (@SpaceForceCSO) July 20, 2022
The general noted space operations are not new, but the area has exploded in recent years with few rules in place which made space more difficult to manage. He asserted that China is seeking to catch up to the US in space operations.
“They have seen the advantages that space has provided us,” he stated. “We’ve integrated space, cyber and multi domain operations. To be honest they don’t like what they see.”
When he discussed the international presence in space, Raymond also mentioned the issue of space debris causing congestion. He described how past anti-satellite missile testing by Russia resulted in the explosion of a satellite into more than 1,500 pieces and also touched on China’s 2005 test which created 3,000 pieces of debris.
The thousands of satellite pieces create long-lasting debris in space which can harm existing satellites and be dangerous to astronauts. Raymond noted that the US has been trying to manage these sorts of situations and there have been discussions with the United Nations on how to regulate space to keep all parties safe.
“This is something the US is leading on,” he voiced. “This is something we’re trying to establish the norms if you will, the rules of the road.”
He also discussed the role that space could play in warfare which warned that future wars may take place in the domain as countries may try to jam communication or destroy other nations satellites. With the increasing ability of countries and private companies to send satellites into space, Raymond believes there could be much danger in space with no international jurisdiction.