China / Society

Drive made to safeguard national space safety

By Zhao Lei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-18 02:04

Unfriendly acts by foreign powers should be opposed, scientist says

China published its first space situation report on Thursday, designed to keep policymakers better informed and to protect the country’s space interests.

The Space Situational Assessment Report "aims to serve policymakers in their making and implementation of strategies and policies that concern national space security", Xie Zebing, a senior researcher at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, said at a news conference on Thursday.

The report elaborates on topics that include space equipment, foreign programs and global competition for superiority in space.

"We hope it will assist with legislation of space laws, boost space-related industries and help promote international cooperation on the peaceful development of space," Xie said.

The report can also help the public to understand more about collaboration, rivalry and even potential hostility in space, Xi added.

The report was produced by the academy’s Qian Xuesen Laboratory of Launch Vehicle Technology.

Li Hongbo, one of the main authors of the document, said that space security is receiving particular attention because "superiority has become a new focus" in the competition between world powers.

During an inspection visit to the air force headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing on Monday, President Xi Jinping asked the air force to speed up its transformation to a strong power with integrated air and space capabilities.

Xi’s remarks were taken by military experts as a clear signal that the country’s top leadership is determined to attain, and maintain, a strong presence in space.

Tao Jiaqu, a prominent scientist in China’s space program, noted that the endeavor to peacefully develop space has encountered tough challenges.

"We must carry out countermeasures to conspiracies to monopolize space," he said, adding that the government should maintain vigilance to guard its security.

He said "unfriendly acts in space" by foreign powers against China must be exposed and countered.

As of August last year, there were about 1,080 satellites in operation, nearly half of which were owned by the United States, which has spared no effort to keep its military satellites two generations ahead of its rivals’, the report said.

It said the US has issued nearly 10 national space policies over the past decade and has conducted the largest number of anti-satellite and anti-missile tests of any country.

There are 11 international conventions and declarations pertaining to space activities, but none of them are able to effectively prevent the militarization of space, the document said.

"We love peace, but we know that it will never be earned by compromise and concession," Li said. "It comes with the ability to protect ourselves."

The US Air Force is expected to launch two high-orbiting satellites as part of a previously secret space surveillance system late in 2014, William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, said in February.

The website reported that the two-satellite Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness system will provide accurate tracking and characterization of man-made orbiting objects.

The European Space Agency launched its Space Situational Awareness Program in January 2009.

The program is designed to support Europe’s independent access to space through the provision of timely and accurate information and data regarding the space environment, according to the agency.

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