Fire Arrows To Modern Rockets.

Weaponization of Outer Space and its Effects on Geopolitics in the 21st Century

China’s space program was started in the 1950s when China began to create its own missiles, modelled on those of Russia, however space age may have been born from China which was based on the use of fire arrows which seem to pave way for the modern rockets. Mao Zedong was intrigued by the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and desired china's progress in developing satellite. All these set plans were postponed and in 1970 china made the first satellite launch long after Russia and the United States had their satellite in existence. Big programs such as, astronaut’s launch to space which got the approval of Mao Zedong, minister of defence Lin Biao and Prime Minister Enlai Zhou in 1970 were also part of the program to weaponize the outer space. The plan was terminated by Deng Xiaoping who came back to power. This paper evaluates weaponization of space and its effects to Geopolitics in 21 century.

China space weaponization records are not always impressive and one of the notorious examples was the irresponsibility the 2007 anti-satellite test. Basing on the Chinese officials, the test was defensive in its nature (Khan, 2016). Contrarily, this test demonstrated China's ability to do away the satellites. American military greatly depends on the satellite for Geolocation information and communication.


The ASAT test was rapidly contentious, as it evoked huge amounts of debris endangering the assets of other countries. This brought suspicion of China's intention on outer peace (Khan, 2016). China`s military, as well as space, is intertwined unlike those of other Nations. In spite of the fact that China was excluded from the International Space Station based in America, it still has sophisticated space items. By 2016, China had a number of rocket launches. These include seven long march Rockets such as the Maiden Flight of the Long March 5 which was launched on 2016 November.

This long march Rocket has a capability to ferry cargo weighing 25 metric tons into low orbit which put it on a par with Europe’s Arianne and the Delta IV build by the United Launch Alliance. This increases the payload capability into which China is capable of placing in outer space. By 2016 the country also witnessed the Long March 7 rocket’s launch and the process of launching continued in 2017 where a Long March 7 Y2 was launched. On another case, a long march 9 rocket in progress is aimed to raise the payload to 140 MT LEO indicate that the country will have the ability to handle and operate large cargo and human missions as well as carrying spacecraft in the next five years (Khan, 2016). Furthermore, the country has a Hypersonic Missile program which has undergone tests in the previous ten years.

In addition, China has a navigation Satellite platform known as BeiDou which offers regional coverage of China and the Asia Pacific- has a precision of about ten centimetres. It does not only provide Geolocation information for the weapon platforms of the country but also various military data coverage which is of various forms, the users of BeiDou which also involves Pakistan defence forces usually take the merit of short messages service which is impossible in the U.S GPS (Khan, 2016). Moreover, the country has a capability of tracing space debris using a tracking platform.

The space tracking system plan is crucial in regaining the trust among nations and showing concern and responsible in space following the 2007 ASAT test. The Country’s space debris monitoring and application centre have a mandate of space debris tracking with the main objective of even tracing the smallest debris of even smaller than 1cm long; space has almost hundred million such debris. A monitoring junk centre was launched in China in 2015 with the main objective of protecting its orbiting spacecraft. (Khan, 2016). China in its outer space endeavours is aimed at its own defence.

At a disarmament conference held in 2015 in Geneva Switzerland, China alongside Russia suggested a more sophisticated version of the agreement to prevent the placement of weapons on space. In the conference, Russia led a proposal, to commit state parties not to be the first states to deploy weapons in space. The agreement was non-binding and acted as a method of the space-warfare playing ground, other than for a peaceful aim (Khan, 2016). Today, China's extreme exploitation of the outer space is perceived as a development move to create military equality on our planet as well as protecting its policies.

The increasing strength of China's military in space technology, it will improve military abilities by developing Geolocation services and communication. The country has the ability to ensure that there is a better defense against aggressive behaviour. A white paper released by China in 2016 December, the country indicated its strategy to extend the size and strength of its space platforms. (Kulpers, 2018). The country has a strategy to increase the approximated $6billion yearly to invest in space operations. The set strategies include a Robotic Lunar Program which has various missions such as the plan to be the first to explore the far side of the Moon.

There is also a strategy to launch the Chang`e-5 Lunar probe which has a technically complex procedure where the probe will land, do some samples collection, and later go to its docking Lunar Orbit, and then return back to the Earth. Primarily, these objectives appear to be widely scientific and indeed they are, and widely develops china`s ability to explore deeper into space. Although this has military merits, there is advanced technology such as the repairing and keeping satellites in the watch (Kulpers, 2018). Nevertheless, China`s BeiDou navigating platform is in the process of offering global coverage by utilizing 35 satellite by next year. China by 2016 September sent a space lab into outer space -Tiangong 2 which was after the Chinese National Space Administration lost control of Tiangong 1 which was earlier launched.

The second launch was in preparation for the creation of a space station which is permanently manned by 2022 which will pilot an objective that was implemented 30 years ago. The station is being developed and is planned to be launched into orbit by 2020. With the possibility of the retirement of the ISS some years after 2025, other nations will probably depend on China’s research on space, since it could be the only nation with a space station (Kulpers, 2018). Currently, the country is the first country to start testing on quantum-enabled satellite that targets to probe hack-proof communication keys which utilize the quantum encryption.

With a possibility of the technology being successful, it will create a hack-proof satellite communication network that will typically have a sophisticated security implication. It will assist with the rise of cyber-attacks posed on communication infrastructure (Kulpers, 2018). This program goes hand in hand with those mentioned prior go in line with the countries objectives of achieving a worldwide technology leader. The country’s strategies show president Xi Jiping`s candid dreams to transform the next space power and to keep Chinese defense forces ability at rapid space while assist in legalizing regime in the world.

In future, we could visibly see a levelling of the outer space playing field among various major powerful countries or even a shift of the current power into a new direction. Regardless of the advanced technology, China is not the only interested regional player in the outer space. Japan also keeps sophisticated space platforms and as well, India is developing a lunar and deep space capacity. Worries over china`s responsibility in the space were first articulated in a statement by James Lewis who is a member of the centre for strategic and international studies. (Vasani, 2017). China was rapidly building its name as a top space power worldwide while carrying out a series of huge projects one after the other. In his argument, Lewis argument depicts an already popular critic besides some short white papers, which showed some lack of accountability in the country’s military space platforms and its technical data release (Vasani, 2017).

Currently, China perceives that the largest threat that they face comes from the US. To confront the US conventional strength and further regain strategic parity, Beijing has to hit the United States Achilles heel Washington dependence on satellite for C4ISR. For this reason, Beijing strategizes to exploit the weaknesses of the space systems of America in the instances of conflict (Bergesen et al., 2018). Basing on the recent RAND research, space and counter space activities will be essential in the elements of armed counter between China and America. There is the development of war-fighting ability that the United States defense forces have progressed since the Cold War ages.

The satellite support and space-based ISR and communication connectivity would be crucial in western Pacific theatre expansion. The PLA`s enthusiasm in the use of the outer space for defence forces objectives gained influence in 1991 in the Gulf war. This has been known to be the first space war and since then, it has rapidly increased. Basing on Chinese analyst, the America military depends upon space for seventy to eighty percent of its intelligence and most of its communication (Bergesen et al., 2018). Chinese research also depicts that, the almost omnipotent state to the United states spaced based surveillance as well as reconnaissance and asserts that the American government receive is based on these systems.

Richard Adams, as well as Martin France, are of opinion that the PLA`s creation of ASAT weapon is not a confrontation to united states space control methods. In their view, it is with the consideration of regional security and influence, and asymmetric conflict against a superior foe if a conflict develops. They further argue that China wants to do away with the United States dominance by making use of spaceborne information assets (Bergesen et al., 2018). China also is hoping to assure the availability of its nuclear deterrent by capturing the essential space-assets of US missile defence platforms at risk. China’s program contributes to the PLA `s abilities by offering vital C4ISR dependence to long-range precision strike arms and offering the capacity to threaten United States space-based items.

The DN-2 test, which was conducted in 2013 by jolted Washington and made the US discover that pivotal national security satellites, which are in the geostationary orbit, is at the disposal of China. In retaliation, the United States government announced the launch of “Space War Centre:" to confront China and Russian threats on space (Bergesen et al., 2018). This resulted to $5 billion in space security resource funding. Although after some period nothing significant has been made by the centre. America is cognizant of the threat and should keep space as a sanctuary instead of making it a battlefield

Russia, as well as China, have been fostering for a motion on the restriction of an arms race in the space treaty that will enhance that the United States observe a control on space weaponization. Consequently, both China and Russia have given a draft treaty to the United Nations prohibiting the outer space weapon placement (Bergesen et al., 2018). In most cases, the US would not tolerate a weapons control that implies to a limitation of U.S National Missile Defence System. In 2001, Washington withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty and went on to create a missile that is sea-based which can too act as ASAT weapons.

Over the decades, China has invested heavily in space programs as part of people's liberation army (PLA) modernization. Days after the USA released its space policy back in 2006, China published a white paper demonstrating its programs in space which included its advancement over the last five years and its future strategies. The country’s development includes satellite where currently, China has six satellite; scientific, earth resource, weather, broadcasting as well as navigation and positioning satellite (Guo & Wu, 2010). Further, Beijing is developing microsatellite and oceanic satellite.

Some of the countries that have issues with China weaponization of the space and China's anti-satellite test include the United States of America which sees China as a rival in military technology and a rival in its dominance in the outer space. In June last year, the president of the united states announced his intention to create a ‘space force’ which would be entirely a new force of military and this demonstrate the level of China's threat to the dominance of US in space (Schweller, 2018). On the other hand, Japan has expressed its fear of china’s weaponization. After the Chinese ASAT test, the Japanese prime minister filed a case against Beijing in the United Nations for violation of the 1967 outer space treaty which restricts the use of weapons that can cause mass destruction in the space and which China ratified in 1983. In the recent days, Japan has revised its pacifist constitution because of the Beijing’s growing power and increased military spending in the goal to modernize the PLA (DiFilippo, 2015). The ASAT test is likely to increase arms race in Asia which would see India and Japan play hard to catch up with China. Lastly, India has expressed its longstanding enmity with Beijing sighting post border dispute. India also claims to have the ASAT weapons capabilities but has no intention to conduct a test due to its commitment to the peaceful utilization of the space. Additionally, after the Beijing’s ASAT test, Indian air force announced intentions to protect the counties outer space by setting up an aerospace command (Cordesman, 2016).

The weaponization of the space by China has created global concern over the possibility of an arms race. Currently, space is militarised which indicates space-based aid in military operations. Satellites can be used for military endeavours, although fighting does not take place in space, destroying other nation’s satellite can be taken as an act of war and this can ultimately lead to intense weaponization of the space (Latiff, 2018).

The issue of weaponization of the outer space has created different views among different nations. For instance, some countries have expressed views that there is a great risk of the introduction of weapons in the outer space as well as the adoption of a concept of force used in outer space which would undermine the logic of development of non-proliferation mechanisms and the whole platforms of international security.

Furthermore, China is considered possible adversary of the United States in the coming days and is believed to be one of the countries that threaten America's dominance in the space (White, 2012). Countries that have abilities and power usually feel threatened by the USA and may have reasons to have the outer space used for purposes of peace. This indicates the relation between the US and other powerful countries in the world. Another instance of China blowing its aging satellite with medium range ballistics make China to be feared for developing better weapons and the concern that China did not inform anyone before doing this has created suspicious relation between the country and other superpowers. For this case, some countries could have no other option but to develop their own ant-satellite weapons to blind US satellite and this is a source of enmity in the international politics and relations.

To conclude, weaponization of the space is for personal selfish reasons. China development of powerful weapons such long march Rocket, Robotic Lunar Program among other powerful technologies in the outer space is raising suspicion and this is destroying international relation since it seems like a step to arms race, therefore, other countries seem to respond to developing similar technology in space and these means future disagreements in space could have huge, long-lasting negative consequences.

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