US: China’s Counterspace Work Disconcerting

China’s continued development of destructive space technology in 2014 represented “a threat to all peaceful space-faring nations,” warned the Pentagon in its 2015 report on Chinese military developments. Such pursuits were “inconsistent with China’s public statements about the use of space for peaceful purposes,” states the 98-page report, released last week. Yet, China proceeded with this work and with maturation of “capabilities designed to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by adversaries during a crisis or conflict, including the development of directed-energy weapons and satellite jammers.” Notably, on July 23, 2014, the Chinese conducted a space launch with a “similar profile” to the 2007 anti-satellite test that resulted in the “deliberate destruction of a defunct weather satellite” and scattered “hundreds of pieces” of debris that still pose a risk to satellites, states the report. While the July 2014 launch didn’t result in the same on-orbit mess, it was still disconcerting. So, too, was China’s May 13, 2013, launch of an object to an altitude above 30,000 kilometers. The Chinese still have not explained its purpose, despite US requests. It could have been “a test of technologies with a counterspace mission in geosynchronous orbit,” states the report. Analysis determined “the launch profile was not consistent” with traditional space launch vehicles, ballistic missiles, or scientific sounding rockets. (Read the full China report; caution, large-sized file.)