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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Editorial: China’s Future in Space

Since its January 11 anti-satellite, or ASAT, test, many articles and editorials have been written about China’s intentions and goals. The basic idea seem to fall into three categories:

Regardless of which theory you hold, there seems to be something different about this event in China’s developing space program.

China began their space program in cooperation with the USSR in 1956 with the launch of their first satellite Dongfanghong I in 1970 adding China as the fifth space fairing nation. They began a manned program in 1968, finally in 2003 becoming the third country in history to launch a man into orbit.

Up until recently China has followed the standard progression the US and USSR set before them. Admittedly, the US and USSR both pursued ASAT technology, with the Soviet Union performing 5 intercepts with 7 launches between 1963 and 1972. However all of these tests were with dummy satellites and it was in the mist of the cold war.

It was no surprise to anyone interested in such things that China had developed ASAT capability. It was, however, more than a little disturbing that they would destroy an actual satellite without any prior reporting to the international community.

I think what scares us is that China doesn’t seem to play by the rules. They don’t back off when everyone points a finger at them. In a sense they are less controllable with the traditional carrot/sticks. They are a potential super-power who occasionally acts like a rouge-nation.

The really unnerving thing about it is the way China acts like the peaceful party in this dance. They are all pushing for space weapons treaties. The problem is, you can’t trust a treaty with someone who acts like they are the only kid in the playground.

And frankly that scares the hell out of me.

1 comment:

ChinaLawBlog said...

I agree with you, but what can we do?