Image copyright AFP Image caption Scott Pace, Chairman of the US National Space Council, warned that China would pose a threat to the US space programme
The head of the new United States Space Force has said China is developing space capabilities at “twice the rate” of the US.
In an interview with Bloomberg , Lt Gen John “Jay” Raymond says China is not “in the uncomfortable danger” of a “Star Wars”-style attack.
He said the US’s dependence on other countries in space was making it a more vulnerable target.
China has already carried out military exercises simulating an attack on the US.
In January, China announced it would develop an aerial weapon capable of destroying a target in space, an unusual step for a country which has traditionally avoided space warfare for economic reasons.
“China’s influence in space has been growing for decades. Right now they’re investing in very similar capabilities to ours, or slightly ahead,” Lieutenant General Raymond said.
“They’re not in the uncomfortable danger that we’re getting ready to go to a so-called ‘Star Wars’-style fight in space. But it will happen.”
In December, President Donald Trump said he wanted to establish a “separate but equal” space force with a separate budget.
“A national security priority”
The National Space Council’s Chairman, Scott Pace, says the new force will “do something in space that we haven’t been able to do before”.
Image copyright AP Image caption The president has created the National Space Council
“This will be able to do things in space that the US can’t do on its own.”
He added that a significant difference was that it will be involved in policy decision-making, while existing US agencies oversee the military operations.
Lt Gen Raymond said he would be the first vice chairman of the new Space Force, and would run it as if it were a separate branch of the military.
It “will be a national security priority and is supported by the military services”, he said.
The plan is controversial because some, including many in the military, believe it could be an expensive distraction and the creation of another bureaucracy.
Lt Gen Raymond said: “I don’t see that at all.”
Image copyright AP Image caption US generals want to make space security a larger priority in future
When asked about the recent security exercises involving the US, China and Russia, Lt Gen Raymond said the military had to learn to live in “a new world” and “fly more and operate more”.
In December, both China and Russia carried out exercises simulating an attack on the US orbiting military satellite that carries their signals.
Lt Gen Raymond said while China was investing in space capabilities, the US was too.