China Photograph:( Reuters )
More countries are looking to establish their hegemony in space
As the privately built Space-X Falcon 9 rocket took off in triumph, US President Donald Trump made this declaration to the world - “The United States has regained our place of prestige as the world leader. As has often been stated, you can't be number one on Earth if you are number two in space”.
Four months on, and the race for number one has more contenders, with more countries looking to establish their hegemony in space. But they are all united in achieving one goal - isolating Beijing in space exploration projects.
Sweden's state-owned space agency has halted its operations with China. The Swedish Space Corporation was contracted to help Chinese satellites operate from its ground stations across the world. It has now decided to not renew the contract.
China has been forbidden from accessing the ground stations of this space agency in Australia, including the Yathragga and Dongara satellite stations in Western Australia.
The space agency fears that China could use its antennas at these stations for military purposes.
In West Asia, the US Space Force has begun its first mission. A squadron of 20 space operators have been stationed at the Al Udeid air base in Qatar.
Their mission is to track enemy manoeuvres and avert conflicts in space. They have been given the power to jam, hack and blind satellites that pose a heavy security risk. The targets will quite possibly be Iran and China's satellite programmes.
NASA is planning to return to the moon. It has unveiled a new exploration project - the 27 billion dollar Artemis programme, the first such plan in 50 years. The space agency plans to put a man & woman on its lunar lander by 2024.
NASA’s announcement comes on the heels of China's next lunar mission. The Chinese regime is quietly preparing for a November launch of the Chang'e 5 mission. The Pentagon fears that China is trying to militarise the moon, and that it could use its satellites to target America's space-based assets.
India too is working to thwart any Chinese misadventures in space.
ISRO is gearing up for a Chandrayaan-3 mission in early 2021. It is also readying its first manned space mission - Gaganyaan - expected to launch in two years.
Space warfare is soon set to be a reality, with satellites and data set to be the new weapons.