The United States stands prepared for potential orbital conflicts amid escalating tensions with Russia and China, a top US military official told The Guardian, adding that the US “is ready to fight tonight in space if we have to.”
The US Space Force (USSF) has expressed numerous concerns over the years about Russia and China actively developing a variety of weapons aimed at US space security, including cyber warfare, electronic attack platforms, laser technology capable of blinding or damaging satellite sensors, missiles that can destroy satellites from the ground, and orbital engagement systems that could directly target US satellites.
Now, the US Space Command official says, the country is prepared to defend its interests in space. “If someone was to threaten the United States of America, or any of our interests, including those of our allies and partners with whom we have treaties of mutual defense support, we are ready,” US Army Brig. Gen. Jesse Morehouse responsible for space operations, told the publication.
Russia’s space strategy has grown increasingly aggressive, with a cyberattack on the US satellite company Viasat launched just one hour before invading Ukraine in 2022 and threats to target the US and other Western commercial satellites involved in the Ukraine conflict. Russia was also accused of launching an “inspector” satellite Kosmos-2558 to gather intelligence from US military assets.
China, on the other hand, is surging forward in its space ambitions, with state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) aiming to match SpaceX’s capabilities by 2025 and surpass it by 2030. Moreover, China alone possesses 262 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) satellites, nearly as many as the rest of the world, including the US, combined.
The use of satellites in warfare has grown exponentially, prompting nations to not only develop advanced spacecraft but also counterspace operations. China has launched satellites equipped with robotic arms capable of grabbing other satellites and has developed covert explosives that can simulate engine malfunctions in adversary satellites, while Russia tested anti-satellite (ASAT) technology by destroying its own satellite, a practice the US banned in 2022 due to the dangerous debris it produces.
In the US, the escalating significance of space in national security has led to the increased focus on space militarization, including the establishment of the US Space Force and the re-establishment of the US Space Command.