A new German space command to fight against the Russian, Chinese threat and overpopulation
EMU, Germany, July 13 (Reuters) – Germany on Tuesday opened a new space command, following the lead of other Western countries amid growing concerns over Russian and Chinese military advances in space and l increase in satellite launches.
Over the past two years, the United States, France and Britain have all established Space Commands – military bodies responsible for space operations – to deal with what they see as a threat from Russia and from China at a time when relations between the West and Moscow are at a post-Cold War low.
Military sources see Russia and China as capable of waging a war in space and seriously damaging even very advanced adversaries, putting them on par with the West in space.
At its summit in June, NATO warned it was ready to respond militarily to any attack in or from space, having designated space as the fifth area of operations in 2019, alongside land, sea, air and cyberspace.
“Space has become a critical infrastructure that we must secure,” said German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in the small town of Uedem near the Dutch border. Germany’s existing space situation center is to be extended to the new command.
The command’s primary task will be to protect the satellites that provide the military with critical communications and surveillance data from outside interference, and to disrupt an adversary’s satellite operations in the event of conflict.
In addition, it will address the threat to military and civilian devices in space from a rapidly growing satellite population and the resulting debris.
Currently, Uedem’s experts are tracking around 30,000 space debris with a diameter of 10 centimeters (4 inches) or more, a size believed to have the potential to destroy a typical satellite, according to the European Space Agency ( ESA).
According to space data editor Seradata, this is in addition to the nearly 5,000 active satellites and about 3,400 dead in space, with the number of active satellites nearly doubling in a year.
The push is mainly due to commercial operators such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and his Starlink network which aims to launch tens of thousands of satellites to provide global space wifi.
Space insurance companies are worried about the dense accumulation of satellites and space debris, especially in low Earth orbit (Lion), at altitudes of up to around 2,000 kilometers, arguing that this makes the risks incalculable.
“I think we’ll have a collision in Lion within the next three years, and at this point insurance for collisions in Lion might be unobtainable,” said Richard Parker of Assure Space, a unit of the insurer AmTrust Financial, which provides space insurance. but withdrew from risk insurance in Leo.
Cleaning up space is expected to take a long time, even if countries agree on binding international rules for the disposal of old satellites, as many of today’s problems have their roots in the past.
“The last near miss a few weeks ago occurred between a decommissioned US satellite from 1978 and a Soviet satellite from 1981 which passed each other at an estimated distance of less than 10 meters,” a German military source said.
Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Noor Hussain, Carolyn Cohn and Patricia Uhlig, editing by Raissa Kasolowsky
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