Report: China’s Role in Making Outer Space More Congested, Contested, and Competitive (CASI 2021)


Here is a summary of the key points from the document:

  • China’s expanding launch capabilities and increasing satellites will add to congestion in space. Its plans for mega-constellations of nearly 13,000 satellites will also contribute.
  • China is a major contributor to space debris. It accounts for nearly 25% of space debris, mainly due to its 2007 anti-satellite test. This increases the risk of collisions and costs of operating in space.
  • China is developing a wide range of counterspace capabilities including kinetic kill vehicles, directed energy weapons, jammers, co-orbital satellites, and cyber capabilities. This threatens U.S. satellites and aims to undermine U.S. military advantage. China has begun deploying some of these capabilities.
  • China is placing greater emphasis on developing its commercial space sector and now has over 160 companies. This could displace U.S. commercial space companies through cheaper alternatives and mercantilist policies. It also raises concerns about proliferation of technologies to U.S. adversaries.
  • China contests space and regards it as a new warfighting domain. Its goal is to become the leading space power by 2045. Space capabilities play a key role in China’s efforts to project power globally.
  • The lower barriers to entry in the commercial space sector have increased competition. China’s commercial space companies could take market share from U.S. companies.

In summary, China’s rapidly expanding space program contributes to making space more congested, contested, and competitive. This challenges U.S. access to space physically, militarily, and commercially.

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