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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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U.S. Looks for Ways to Win Wars in Space

Space wars

(Photo : Lucasfilm Ltd.) The U.S. must create disruptive new technologies, and develop closer ties with global allies to stay ahead of challenges in space from China, Russia and others, the head of U.S. Air Force Space Command told Reuters.

The U.S. must create disruptive new technologies, and develop closer ties with global allies to stay ahead of challenges in space from China, Russia and others, the head of U.S. Air Force Space Command told Reuters.

General John Hyten said that continued anti-satellite testing by potential foes has spurred a sense of urgency in both industry and government about the need to prepare to for possible war in space.

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"We have to figure out what we're going to do and how we're going to do it," Hyten said in an interview with Reuters, adding that a war in space would devastate the global environment and economy. "We're not going to be bested. We will not."

Hyten and other U.S. military leaders have called on business executives at the annual Space Symposium conference in Colorado Springs to invent ways to automate flight safety for rockets, set up a common ground system to track, communicate with and control satellites, and continue cutting costs.

Increasing competition and mounting budget pressures has already prompted defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman to lower costs, embrace emerging technologies, and adopt commercial business practices, Hyten said.

The expected certification of privately-held launch provider Space Exploration Technologies Inc, or SpaceX, to compete for government satellite launches had also triggered

But Hyten  cautioned that more work was needed, including new business models such as leasing equipment or paying companies like Intelsat to operate satellites.

"If they're going to stay competitive, they better figure out how to work in this future," Hyten said, adding that the Pentagon was done funding decade-long satellite programs that saw massive cost overruns and technology challenges.

Hyten told Reuters that the U.S. Air Force was already providing some funding for work on new digital payloads for the next generation of global positioning satellites (GPS).  

Hyten wouldn't discuss offensive U.S. capabilities, but said rapid advances in electronic warfare by potential foes meant the Air Force needed revolutionary systems for battle management and command and control of satellites.

Reuters reports that a previously unreported five-page memorandum signed by Hyten in February said it was imperative to deploy more capable equipment more rapidly and at far lower cost.

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