News / Asia

US Sees China Missile Launch as Test of Muscle

China's communications and broadcast satellite, the SinoSat-2, aboard a Long March-3B carrier rocket is launched successfully from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan province, (File photo).
China's communications and broadcast satellite, the SinoSat-2, aboard a Long March-3B carrier rocket is launched successfully from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan province, (File photo).
Reuters
The U.S. government believes a Chinese missile launch this week was the first test of a new interceptor that could be used to destroy a satellite in orbit, a U.S. defense official told Reuters on Wednesday.
 
China launched a rocket into space on Monday, but no objects were placed into orbit, the Pentagon said on Wednesday. The object re-entered Earth's atmosphere above the Indian Ocean.
 
“We tracked several objects during the flight but did not observe the insertion of any objects into orbit and no objects associated with this launch remain in space,” said Lieutenant Colonel Monica Matoush, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
 
The rocket reached 10,000 km (6,250 miles) above Earth, the highest suborbital launch seen worldwide since 1976, according to Jonathan McDowell at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
 
China has said the rocket, launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in western China, carried a science payload to study the earth's magnetosphere.
 
“I want to emphasize that China has consistently advocated for the peaceful use of outer space and opposes the weaponization of outer space as well as an arms race in outer space,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing.
 
Possible anti-satellite payload
 
However, a U.S. defense official said U.S. intelligence showed that the rocket could be used in the future to carry an anti-satellite payload on a similar trajectory. Neither the U.S. official nor the Pentagon released details of what the Chinese rocket carried into space.
 
“It was a ground-based missile that we believe would be their first test of an interceptor that would be designed to go after a satellite that's actually on orbit,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
 
Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, declined to comment specifically on the rocket launch, but said China was clearly taking a more aggressive posture in space.
 
“Any time you have a nation-state looking to have a more aggressive posture in space, it's very concerning,” Rogers said at a Reuters Cybersecurity Summit.
 
The United States remains concerned about China's development of anti-satellite capabilities after Beijing shot a missile at one of its own defunct satellites in orbit in 2007, creating an enormous amount of debris in space.
 
Monday's rocket launch was similar to launches using the Blue Scout Junior rocket that were conducted by the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s for research on Earth's magnetosphere, McDowell said in an emailed response to questions.
 
He said all the previous suborbital launches above 10,000 km had been conducted by the United States. All China's previous missile tests went to less than 2,000 km, although Beijing had launched orbital vehicles higher, including to the moon, he said.
 
Most scientific suborbital launches are at most 1,500 km or so, McDowell added. The 1976 launch was Gravity Probe A, when NASA and McDowell's institute worked together to launch an atomic clock to 10,280 km.
 
Monday's launch came less than a week after U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter unveiled what he called a “long overdue” effort to safeguard U.S. national security satellites and develop ways to counter the space capabilities of potential adversaries.
 
U.S. military space officials are taking steps to improve the resilience of national security satellites in orbit, the defense official said. These include using new wave forms to make it more difficult for adversaries to jam signals from space, putting U.S. sensors on commercial satellites and using terrestrial high-frequency communications.
 
Last week, the Pentagon released an 83-page report on Chinese military developments that highlighted China's increasing space capabilities and said Beijing was pursuing a variety of activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid