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    This file photo taken on September 20, 2008 shows Chinese tourists gathering to watch the Shenzhou-7 manned spaceship on top of the Long-March II-F rocket being transfered to the launchpad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu province

    Get Out of My Space! China's Extraterrestrial Goals Prompt US Ire

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    Asia & Pacific
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    China plans to initiate 20 space missions this year including the testing of its most sophisticated rocket and the launching of a habitual space module. But security analysts in the US are expressing suspicions they have military implications.

    China is already testing surface-to-air missiles that could strike targets in orbit and it’s also working with experimental lasers that can scramble or “blind” satellites. But as China keeps looking up to space, it’s raising some concern down below. Particularly from the US, according to China Cheat Sheets.

    ​The United States is already at odds with Beijing over cyber-warfare accusations and China’s militarization in the South China Sea. Now, security officials are worried that China’s armament might spread to outer space, home to US satellites vital to American interests.

    The US relies on these devices for various military and civilian implications including gathering intelligence, and targeting weapons. Some analysts worry they may soon fall into Chinese striking distance.

    This year, China intends to launch the Tiangong 2 space laboratory. China plans to later send astronauts to this habitual module, which will serve as a stepping stone toward a major space station. Chinese officials plan to have this station fully operational by 2020.  Some security analysts fear the station will have military implications.  

    Could this mean we’ll be living Star Wars soon?

    That’s up for debate.

    China still trails far behind Russia and the US in terms of space technology. But in the last 12 years, China has sought to rapidly reduce the gaps it holds with both nations, and it’s showing no intentions of slowing down. 

    Moreover, the extent of the military implications behind its rapidly-growing space program remains a mystery.

    "There are a lot of avenues to go after satellites, and what worries people is that the Chinese are pursuing all of them," said James Andrew Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies." The question becomes: If they're so into peace, why are they building so many weapons?"

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    Tags:
    US-China relations, space exploration, space cooperation, space, China National Space Administration, East China Sea, China, Beijing
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