David Axe writes in “US Starting Asia Space Race?” April 22nd launch of X-37B robotic spacecraft into orbit by US Air Force counters China’s anti-satellite capability and goes a step further. “The X-37B, built by Boeing, could also be used to spy on and even disable other nations’ satellites, all without them necessarily knowing that it’s even happening.“
Eric Sterner, a Washington-based analyst, says, “the smoke probably exceeds the fire.” Sterner believes most likely the spacecraft will be used to put satellites into orbit more cheaply. Russia, China and India find the inspection capabilities of the X-37B most worrisome. The US defied a consensus among the other countries by launching the 30 foot long craft. Further, the US is the only nation with the ability to comprehensively track foreign spacecraft, which clearly gives the US a tactical advantage.
The Air Force’s intentions aside, the X-37B with its satellite inspection capability represents an escalation of the space race with China. Finally, since the launch, the X-37B changes orbits frequently and evades tracking by amateur spotters, which only adds to the speculation about its celestial activities!
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