War in space 'inevitable' as China's race to weaponize may escalate into conflict with US, expert warns

A WAR in space appears “inevitable” as China’s ambition to develop new weapons likely escalates into a “devastating” conflict with the US, an expert has warned.

Defense analyst Eugene Gholz thinks an “arms race” is already underway as Beijing tries to compete with the US in space.


China launched the first part of its space station into orbit in April, flexing its technological muscles.

The Chinese government has also revealed ambitions to send astronauts to Mars during the 2030s.

Gholz said investing in space technology is considered an “acceptable form of public chest-thumping” in China.

Meanwhile, many Americans view "technological prowess" outside of defense and national security, according to the expert.

He said: "We don’t see it as inherently connected."

Gholz believes a "Cold War" in space between Washington and Beijing is "very likely" as China pushes its ambitions.

He said: “Some people fear that efforts in space will overlap with military or strategic efforts.

"China’s militarized approach to technology might have an implication for an arms race.

"There’s a reasonable chance that techno-nationalism could spill over into developing space weapons."

The expert also fears that the competition between Washington and Beijing could escalate into a potentially devastating conflict.

Gholz thinks the US has a "lot more" to lose if space becomes a battleground in the future.

He claimed that some officials think that the "weaponization" of space is inevitable due to great-power competition.

Gholz said: "If a hot war comes, people realize it’s going to be tremendously destructive – there’s a risk of really large-scale disruption."

He warned: "If we fill up orbit with space junk because we fought wars there, it would be very expensive to get rid of the junk and it would prohibit our use of space in different ways.

If a hot war comes, people realize it's going to be tremendously disruptive.

"Right now the US has the perfect situation – we use space effectively for communication and navigation.

"But, that makes other countries interested in undermining the US' vantage point."

Aerospace experts Rebecca Reesman and James Wilson say forces may try to disrupt rivals’ capabilities in the event of a future space war.

Reesman said: “Any conflict in space will be much slower and much more deliberate than a Star Wars scene.

“It requires a lot more long-term thinking and a strategic placement of assets.”

Beijing's attempts to become a space superpower comes just decades after Chairman Mao declared that China didn’t "deserve" to be a great power if it couldn’t send a potato into outer space.

In 2018, China launched more vessels into orbit than any other nation and a year later became the first country to land on the far side of the moon, the Financial Times reports.

Analysts have admitted that nowhere in space is safe from China’s capabilities.

In a further demonstration of its might, Beijing is planning to send its first crewed mission to Mars by 2033 and aim to launch future flights in 2035, 2037, and 2041.

It has been reported that developers are working on a reusable space plane, according to The Week.

Engineers appear to have developed the capability to potentially attack US satellites, according to Nikkei Asia.

If this materializes, experts fear that the consequences could be dramatic.

Foreign affairs commentator Hiroyuki Akita said: “Losing satellite function would leave the American military like a giant whose central nervous system has been damaged.”

Competition between the two nations appears on the rise amid reports that engineers in Washington are also developing potential space weapons of the future.

SPACE WARS

Pentagon officials are reportedly keen to launch a nuclear thermal rocket in just four years’ time.

Officials at the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency have commissioned General Atomics, Blue Origin, and Lockheed Martin to build the spacecraft known as DRACO (the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations).

If completed, it would be the world’s first nuclear thermal propulsion system for spacecraft, according to Popular Mechanics.

The nuclear thermal rocket would be fueled by hydrogen and officials think it would be twice as effective as chemical rockets.

Officials aim to send a proof-of-concept spacecraft above low-Earth orbit in 2025.

Engineers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are developing space weapons such as the Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition.

This game-changing rail-gun can fire a jet of molten metal, hurled through space at several hundred miles per second by the most powerful electromagnets ever built.

The molten metal can then morph into an aerodynamic slug and pierce through another spacecraft or satellite and a munition explodes inside. 

NASA experts have already developed a technology called HAMMER that they hope could nudge rocks before they smash into Earth.

This would be done by strategically targeting nuclear missiles into the rocks until it knocks them off course.

But experts point out there is nothing to stop a power steering an asteroid towards its enemy.



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