- (Reuters) -- Space may become a war zone in the not-too-distant
future, a senior US military officer said today, hours after China became
only the third country after the US and the former Soviet Union to put
a man in space.
- "In my view it will not be long before space becomes
a battleground," Lieutenant General Edward Anderson, deputy commander
of US Northern Command, said in response to a question at a geospatial
intelligence conference in New Orleans.
- "Our military forces ... depend very, very heavily
on space capabilities, and so that is a statement of the obvious to our
potential threat, whoever that may be," he said.
- "They can see that one of the ways that they can
certainly diminish our capabilities will be to attack the space systems,"
said Anderson, who was formerly with US Space Command.
- "Now how they do that and who that's going to be
I can't tell you in this audience," he said at the unclassified conference.
- The United States operates spy satellites in space
- Earlier in the day, Rich Haver, former special assistant
for intelligence to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said he expected
battles in space within the next two decades.
- "I believe space is the place we will fight in the
next 20 years," said Haver, now vice president for intelligence strategy
at Northrop Grumman Mission Systems.
- "There are executive orders that say we don't want
to do that. There's been a long-standing US policy to try to keep space
a peaceful place, but ... we have in space assets absolutely essential
to the conduct of our military operations, absolutely essential to our
national security. They have been there for many years," he said.
- "When the true history of the Cold War is written
and all the classified items are finally unclassified, I believe that historians
will note that it was in space that a significant degree of this country's
ability to win the Cold War was embedded," Haver said.
- Responding to a question about the implications of China
sending a man into space this week, Haver said: "I think the Chinese
are telling us they're there, and I think if we ever wind up in a confrontation
again with any one of the major powers who has a space capability we will
find space is a battleground."
- Chinese "taikonaut" Yang Liwei touched down
in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia early on Thursday local time after
a 21-hour odyssey that took him around the world 14 times.
- Haver added that he was not implying that China was the
next great competitor or enemy of the United States.
- The ability to launch devices into space is rapidly becoming
a multinational activity, Haver said.