Pentagon races to end China’s ‘dream’ of military domination in space

China launched a groundbreaking mission last year to soft-land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and the U.S. (Associated Press/File)

The United States and China are rapidly building space warfare capabilities as part of a race to dominate the zone outside Earth’s atmosphere.

Air Force Gen. John W. Raymond, commander of the Pentagon’s new Space Command, said last week that the threat of attacks against vital American satellites is real.

“I can tell you from my perspective, the scope, scale and complexity of that threat is alive and well and very concerning,” Gen. Raymond told an audience Nov. 18 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China’s strategy for dominating space was detailed this month in the annual report of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The commission report warned that China wants to dominate the zone between the Earth and the moon, known as cislunar space, as part of what the ruling Communist Party of China calls the “Space Dream.”

China is planning a permanent base on the moon as part of the dual military and commercial program.

“Beijing is clearly of the view that the country that leads in space may also be economically and militarily dominant on Earth,” the report said.

Similarly, the Chinese military’s Joint Staff in 2018 said the goal is to achieve “space superiority” — controlling space without interference from ground-based or space-based threats.

Gen. Raymond disclosed during his Senate nomination hearing in June for the first time that the Pentagon is working on “counterspace weapons” to conduct offensive and defense military operations in space.

The four-star general said China and Russia are the main space warfare threats and that the U.S. needs to quickly develop offensive and defensive capabilities to deter their weapons and be able to fight in space if needed.

“We are developing new counterspace systems while new and legacy space systems are incorporating defensive measures and tactics,” he said in written answers to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee.

No details of U.S. space warfare arms were disclosed. A spokesman for the Space Command had no immediate comment.