Magazine article National Defense

U.S.-China Space Race Driving Increased Spending

Magazine article National Defense

U.S.-China Space Race Driving Increased Spending

Article excerpt

The United States and China are boosting investments in space capabilities as the Pentagon prepares for an era of great power conflict.

China spent about $11 billion on space technologies and activities in 2017, according to a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "Space Threat Assessment 2018."That is second only to the U.S., which spent about $48 billion in this area.

"As part of its mission to become a dominant actor in the domain, China has increased spending... to improve its space capabilities," the report said. Beijing is focusing on many lines of effort, including rapid development and launch of both intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance satellites and positioning, navigation and timing satellites, it noted.

The Asian nation is also developing counter-space weapons.

"Our adversaries... have moved aggressively to field forces that can challenge our space capabilities," the report said. From simple --and widely available and affordable--jammers to highly sophisticated anti-satellite weapons, today the U.S. is facing serious threats.

"The loss of critical assets today could prove decisive to our ability to monitor critical events like missile launches or nuclear tests, or to successfully prosecute a military campaign," it added.

Meanwhile, the United States is pumping more money into its space enterprise. Federal contract obligations had a compound annual growth rate of more than 5 percent between fiscal years 2011 and 2017, according to a report by Govini, "Space Platforms and Hypersonics Technologies Taxonomy. …

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