In recent years, China has made great strides in its space program. Fox News recently reported, "[t]his year, a rocket will carry a train car-sized module into orbit, the first building block for a Chinese space station. Around 2013, China plans to launch a lunar probe that will set a rover loose on the moon. It wants to put a man on the moon, sometime after 2020." Many of the technologies that will be employed are "dual-use." That means they can be used for military as well as scientific purposes. In "China's Space Program: A Growing Factor in U.S. Security Planning," Heritage analyst Dean Cheng concludes that growing Chinese counter-space capabilities are beginning to threaten U.S. space superiority and therefore the ability of the U.S. to support its friends and allies and to deter aggression.
According to the analysis laid out in the study, Chinese efforts to secure space dominance will entail hard-kill and soft-kill measures aimed at satellites, ground facilities, and data links and will incorporate active and passive defenses for Chinese space facilities.
The Heritage scholar argues China's space initiatives should serve as a wake up call for the United States. "As long as Beijing is under no illusion that it can deny the United States the ability to use space at the times and places of Washington's choosing," he contends, "the Sino-American space relationship has the potential to develop along the lines of mutual respect and mutual benefit. However, such peaceful development will depend on U.S. willingness to plan forces and allocate resources to this end."