this is another interesting article http://www.space.com/news/china_dod_030801.html
China appears to be sharpening its war fighting space skills, from creating anti-satellite weaponry, building new classes of heavy-lift and small boosters, as well as improving an array of military space systems.
That judgment comes courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) which earlier this week released its annual report to Congress: The Military Power of the People's Republic of China.
The report focuses on the current and probable future course of that country's growing military-technological prowess, including the use of space to assure military advantage.
Anti-satellite laser work
Flagged in the report is China's work in electronic warfare. In particular, the country is procuring state-of-the-art technology to improve its intercept, direction finding, and jamming capabilities. A possible target for the jammers: receivers utilized in the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite constellation.
The report also underscores China's "robust" research and development program for laser weapons. In 1999, the Chinese displayed a portable laser weapon, advertised for blinding human vision and electro-optical sensors. In addition, a radio-frequency weapons program is likely in place.
"Beijing may have acquired high-energy laser equipment that could be used in the development of ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons," the DoD report says.
This year's report cites a comment from Captain Shen Zhongchang from the Chinese Navy Research Institute. He envisions, according to the DoD, a weaker military defeating a superior one by attacking its space-based communications and surveillance systems.
"The mastery of outer space will be a requisite for military victory, with outer space becoming the new commanding heights for combat," Shen is quoted as saying. He also is quoted in the report as observing that "lightning attacks and powerful first strikes will be more widely used in the future."
In future wars, Shen highlights radar, radio stations, communications facilities, and command ships as priority targets vulnerable to smart weapons, electronic attack, and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons.
Improving space-based reconnaissance and surveillance technologies is high on China's agenda. "These systems, when fully deployed, will provide a robust and versatile space reconnaissance capability with regional coverage," the just released DoD report explains.
"Publicly, China opposes the militarization of space and seeks to prevent or slow the development of U.S. anti-satellite (ASAT) systems and space-based missile defenses," the DoD reports states. "Privately, however, China's leaders probably view ASAT systems -- and offensive counterspace systems, in general -- as well as space-based missile defenses as inevitabilities."
Meanwhile, the report adds, China is said to be acquiring a variety of foreign technologies that could be used to develop its own satellite-killing capability.
On this score, China already may possess the ability to damage optical sensors on some spacecraft - at least those vulnerable to laser damage. Ground-based, satellite-blinding laser weaponry is likely being pursued. "Given China's current level of interest in laser technology, Beijing probably could develop a weapon that could destroy satellites in the future," the report notes.
China is also thought on a path toward a direct-ascent ASAT system. This hardware could be fielded in the 2005-2010 timeframe, the DoD asserts. Space interceptors can destroy targets in space. Moreover, the report highlights a Hong Kong newspaper account in January 2001 that claimed China had developed and tested an ASAT system using a "parasitic microsatellite." Although the DoD review says this claim cannot be confirmed, it points out that home-grown microsatellite and nanosatellite technologies are being proliferated by a number of nations.
New booster families
In the booster department, China is proceeding with building a new modular family of heavy-lift launchers. Additionally, a new small, solid-propellant space lifter is being developed. A family of these smaller boosters would provide China the ability to hurl small satellites into orbit. This class of booster would give China a rapid launch capability, "and has broad military, civil, and commercial applications," the DoD report observes.
As for China's human spaceflight program, the DoD acknowledges the fact that the country's first manned space mission may occur this year.
"China also has long-term plans to launch its own space station, and possibly a reusable space plane as well. While one of the strongest immediate motivations for this program appears to be political prestige, China's manned space efforts almost certainly will contribute to improved military space systems in the 2010-2020 timeframe," the report concludes.
Lots of action-reaction
In reviewing the DoD report, some Western China watchers don't see anything startling or new in the assessment of Chinese space interests. But the report does wave a cautionary flag, according to one expert.
"Still lots of speculation of what the Chinese might be developing," said Joan Johnson-Freese, chair of the Naval War Collegeâ€™s National Security Decision Making Department in Newport, Rhode Island.
"Regarding space specifically, both countries see space as so vital to their futures," Johnson-Freese told SPACE.com. "Actions by one are seen as nearly zero-sum to the other," she said.
Johnson-Freese said that the Chinese have read the 2001 Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization as suggesting the inevitability that space will become a battleground. Therefore, the U.S. would be remiss not to prepare.
"They also note that in the first U.S. Space War Game in 2001, American forces were pitted against an opponent threatening a small neighbor. Subsequently, the Chinese view that they would be remiss not to prepare for the inevitability of U.S. development of space weapons."
There are lots of "inevitabilities" in both U.S. and China camps, Johnson-Freese said, that were not considered inevitabilities five years ago. "Lots of action-reaction on both sides," she added.
Targets for preemption
Dean Cheng, Research Analyst with Project Asia at the CNA Corporation in Washington, D.C., has also perused the DoD report on China.
"I think that the Second Gulf War highlighted, on the one hand, the dependence of the United States on space-based systems, which China's People's Liberation Army cannot help but notice and note," Cheng said. "Space assets gave U.S. forces a significant edge, and that is something that the Chinese have noticed."
Cheng said the DoD report correctly observes that the Chinese are showing an interest in the topic of physical attack against satellites.
"It would be dangerous and foolhardy, in my opinion, to either ignore such reports, or worse to pooh-pooh them. Given the degree of American reliance on satellite systems, it would behoove us to consider the prospect of attack against our space-based infrastructure from all potential sources, and to explore and, where possible, undertake countermeasures against such possibilities," Cheng told SPACE.com.
As the DoD report notes, Cheng said, "the Chinese have highlighted space systems as targets for preemption. That should only make us pay more attention to improving the survivability of the American space force."