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Air Force Leadership: Chinese ASAT Shot Means Space No Longer Sanctuary

By | February 12, 2007

      ORLANDO, Fla.–Last month’s test by China of an anti-satellite weapon marked “a turning point” in how the United States should view space, the Air Force’s two top officials said last week.

      “The Chinese have sent the message that our guard must be stronger,” Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne told attendees on Feb. 8 during the opening address of the Air Force Association’s 23rd Annual Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla.

      “Space is no longer a sanctuary,” Wynne said, noting that “this change is seismic in nature.”

      China fired a ballistic missile on Jan. 11 at one of its weather satellites that had expired. A kill vehicle in the missile successfully deployed and collided with the spacecraft, destroying it, thereby creating a field of debris, U.S. administration officials have said.

      “We face competition, if not direct confrontation, with other countries in an environment that we used to consider an American safehaven,” Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley, who followed Wynne, told the crowd, noting that the Chinese test has left “a large debris field in space.”

      Wynne said the debris is a cause of concern as even small pieces could have a catastrophic effect on a critical space platform.

      Freedom of space is a basic to commerce and there is no place in it for piracy or blackmail, the secretary said.

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