…America’s chief adversaries in space are familiar ones: Russia and China are extending above the atmosphere the competition and conflict already boiling down here on Earth — from Syria to Ukraine to the South China Sea to cyberspace.
China and Russia are taking aim at America in space with a dizzying array of weapons seemingly borrowed from science fiction. Russia has deployed what could be multiple kamikaze satellites such as “Kosmos 2499” — designed to sidle up to American satellites and then, if ordered, disable or destroy them. China has launched the “Shiyan” — equipped with a grappling arm that could snatch US satellites right out of orbit.
“We would absolutely be shocked if the US military were not on a war footing now based on what we see,” said Paul Graziani, CEO of the civilian satellite tracker AGI.
These are not experimental weapons of the future, but weapons of today, already operating from Near Earth Orbit, just 100 miles up and home of the International Space Station, to Medium Earth Orbit at 12,500 miles, where the GPS satellites fly, all the way up to 22,000 miles in Geostationary Orbit, home of the nation’s most sensitive military communications and nuclear early-warning satellites.
Hyten warned that adversaries will soon be able to threaten US satellites in every orbital regime.
“We have very good surveillance and intelligence capabilities, so we can see the threats that are being built,” said Hyten. “So we’re developing capabilities to defend ourselves. It’s really that simple.”