The U.S. may still have a lead in space, but that might not last long, warns a senior Pentagon official.
A lot has changed since America put a man on the moon: it’s no longer the only country capable of launching rockets to the moon or building a space station. Other nations have stepped up their game and are now aggressively developing space technologies that could threaten America’s lead.
Russia and China, for example, “are looking to asymmetrically undermine our space-based capabilities,” said Kenneth P. Rapuano, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, at a March 27 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee.
He underscored how space is a critical national interest that not only supports sectors such as academia and banking but also offers “enormous promise” for the prosperity of Americans and international partners.
But space also gives American armed forces a leg up against other militaries -- and the U.S. has to fight to keep that edge.
The Russians, for example, have built “some relatively exquisite capabilities,” Rapuano said, but China is an even bigger threat as it has invested significantly into space. This year, China has more rocket launches than the U.S. and it’s “the lead rocket-launch nation in the world,” Rapuano said.
To counter these efforts, the Pentagon has to adapt its policies and capabilities to “more effectively deter aggression, protect our interests and enhance our lethality,” Rapuano said.