China has successfully completed a test of an anti-satellite weapon, alarming the United States and other nations, the White House said.
Although the Bush administration is weary of a possible militarized space race, it has steadfastly opposed a ban on such tests in order to preserve U.S. “freedom of action in space.”
New York Times:
China successfully carried out its first test of an antisatellite weapon last week, signaling its resolve to play a major role in military space activities and bringing expressions of concern from Washington and other capitals, the Bush administration said yesterday.
Only two nations—the Soviet Union and the United States—have previously destroyed spacecraft in antisatellite tests, most recently the United States in the mid-1980s.
Arms control experts called the test, in which the weapon destroyed an aging Chinese weather satellite, a troubling development that could foreshadow an antisatellite arms race. Alternatively, however, some experts speculated that it could precede a diplomatic effort by China to prod the Bush administration into negotiations on a weapons ban.
“This is the first real escalation in the weaponization of space that we’ve seen in 20 years,” said Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who tracks rocket launchings and space activity. “It ends a long period of restraint.”