US is spending up to $25 billion annually to try to counter Chinese and Russian anti-satellite weapons
The article originally appeared at German Economic News. Translated for RI by Alexander Samarkin
The US has more than 500 satellites in space. China and Russia are allegedly developing an anti-satellite weapon. Washington fears bellicose intentions of Beijing and prepares for a possible "Star Wars" scenario. For the Americans especially the spy satellites are of great strategic importance.
The more than 500 US satellites are exposed to major threats, said the US commander of the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), John Hyten. China expanded in space research and was in the process to develop an effective anti-satellite weapon.
"China proceeds to perform tests. They carry out the tests in order to launch attacks on satellites in the event of conflict between the two nations. And that's a bad development for the US and for the planet," said Hyten in an interview with the tv station CBS News.
But America was prepared. The US spent ten times more on their program than China. Moreover, the Americans had tested anti-satellite weapons successfully. The government in Beijing is aware of these facts. The US had to recon with a direct Chinese threat in five to ten years.
According to estimates of the Pentagon AFSPC spends ten billion annually for space research. However, according to the White House, this sum amounts to 25 billion dollars, because of additional classified expenditure and expenditure on pure spy satellites. NASA and all other space agencies of the USA had a much lower budget, said Hyten.
Hyten literally: "The Space Command has 38,000 pilots at 134 locations around the world. One of their tasks is to ensure that US satellites have unhindered access to space at any time from the launch pad at the Air Force Base in Vandenberg, California.Today our satellites watch 23,000 objects. 1,300 of these are active satellites. The rest are satellite debris."
This year another 30 civilian and military satellites are to be launched into space. Hyten named Russia as another threat in the military space sector. The Russians had surprised the Americans with photos of their own spy satellites that were shot between 2005 and 2010. Even though the photos are spectacular: The US government is still puzzled about what Russia wanted to achieve with the publication.