A new cold war is unfolding above Planet Earth. Will there be battles in space?

A new cold war is unfolding above Planet Earth. Will there be battles in space? Here’s everything you need to know:

What’s the conflict about?
China, Russia, and the U.S. are competing for military advantage in orbit. U.S. intelligence agencies warned in February that China and Russia are developing ballistic missiles and other weapons that could be used to reliably target American satellites “in the next few years.” Both countries have already successfully tested space warfare technologies. In 2007, China used a missile to shoot down one of its own aging weather satellites orbiting 537 miles above the planet. Russia successfully conducted a test flight for an antisatellite missile in 2015. The U.S. has long possessed such capabilities. In 1985, an American fighter jet successfully launched a missile into a U.S. science satellite. “Space is no longer a peaceful domain,” said Deborah Lee James, secretary of the Air Force under President Obama. “There is a real possibility that a conflict on Earth could bleed into space.”

Why is that?
Space is strategically vital. About 1,700 active satellites currently orbit Earth — nearly half sent up by the U.S. — and they’ve become critical to the modern world’s economy and daily activities. The Air Force’s 33 Global Positioning System satellites provide timing signals used by Wall Street traders and cellphone networks, as well as powering navigation-based apps like Google Maps and Uber. Weather forecasts, video conferencing, instant credit-card authorization, banking connections, and cable television are all powered by satellites. The U.S. military relies heavily on communications and surveillance satellites for virtually all of its activities, from monitoring North Korean weapons tests to coordinating troops in the field. Satellites are constantly scanning Earth to detect strikes against the U.S., looking for the distinctive plumes of a missile launch. “Space is foundational to our way of …read more

Source:: The Week – Science


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