US warns against Chinese activities in space

US warns against Chinese activities in space

The US is closely monitoring Chinese activities that could potentially threaten American assets in space as debris rapidly accumulates in low Earth orbit, according to the head of the US military operations in space Friday. Commander of US Space Command General James Dickinson praised the passage in the UN of a resolution that countries must not conduct direct antisatellite tests that create vast fields of space debris, which could potentially endanger satellites and space stations.

Of the four countries that have conducted the ASAT tests, the United States only voted in favor, while China and Russia voted no, and India abstained.

Dickinson said in a telephone conference with reporters in Asia that we can't continue to contribute to the debris we find in the space domain. Most of the debris is in the crucial low Earth orbit, which has become congested, competitive and contested, he said.

Even tiny shards of metal can pose a danger and the number of objects is growing rapidly. Space Command is tracking more than 48,000 in near-Earth orbit, including satellites, telescopes, space stations and pieces of debris of all sizes, up from 25,000 just three years ago, according to Dickinson.

In 2003, China became the third government to send astronauts into space on its own after the Soviet Union and the United States. Its program has progressed steadily since.