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The US will battle its rivals in outer space if it has to, senior military official says

space rocket launchThe Soyuz TMA-19M rocket launching into space from Baikonur, Kazakhstan in 2015.

NASA/Joel Kowsky via Getty Images

  • The US is gearing up for a potential battle in outer space, according to a top official.
  • The military “is ready to fight tonight in space if we have to,” Brigadier general Jesse Morehouse said Thursday.
  • China, India, Russia, and the US are all developing anti-satellite weapons.

The US is prepared to battle in outer space using anti-satellite technologies, a senior military official said on Thursday in a warning to rival countries including China and Russia.

“The United States of America is ready to fight tonight in space if we have to,” brigadier general Jesse Morehouse of the US Space Command told reporters.

“If someone was to threaten the United States of America, or any of our interests, including those of our allies and partners with whom we have treaties of mutual defence support, we are ready to fight tonight,” he added.

Morehouse’s comments were made at the US embassy in London and reported by The Guardian.

Since the two countries battled to put a man on the moon in the 1960s, Americans have generally seen Russia as the country’s main space-race rival.

Leaked US intel documents seen by The Washington Post last month showed that the military believes Russia’s space program is declining – but China’s could “hold key US and Allied space assets at risk.”

Military strategists believe that any possible space war would involve countries attacking each other’s satellites in a bid to cripple key infrastructure, because of the bodies’ role in defense communications and navigation.

Satellites are “going to be a normal part of warfare in the future,” Morehouse told reporters. “Satellite communications are becoming more and more common across many militaries, and so countering them is something that many nations are interested in.”

China, India, Russia, and the US have all tested anti-satellite missiles by firing on their own satellites – but the US banned those operations last year because of the massive clouds of debris they produce.

China has also developed satellites with robotic arms that can “grapple” enemy satellites. Morehouse signaled the US could work on similar technologies that don’t risk massive damage to the surrounding environment.

“When you create that debris cloud, and it lingers on orbit for decades, it’s almost like detonating a nuclear weapon in your own backyard,” Morehouse said. “You pay the price too.”

“Can you develop a capability that can be used to counter satellites, that works very well, and validate that it works without having to create a debris cloud on orbit every time you do so? Absolutely,” he added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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