Credit: CBS News

Credit: CBS News

This Sunday, April 26, there is a CBS News 60 Minutes segment on Air Force Space Command set to air…or take to space.

Titled “The Battle Above” the program will review U.S. and China locked in a high stakes contest over satellites that are critical to national security and everyday life.

The U.S. Air Force’s Space Command is tasked with defending the satellites upon which our daily life and national security have come to depend. Now, says a general — USAF Gen. John Hyten, the head of Air Force Space Command –Chinese weapons could pose a threat to those satellites.

Correspondent David Martin anchors the report on Sunday April 26 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Defending spacecraft

USAF laser-guided telescope in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Credit: CBS News

USAF laser-guided telescope in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Credit: CBS News

According to a CBS News statement on the show:

“Martin provides a rare look at Space Command, the branch of the U.S. Air Force charged with launching and protecting U.S. satellites. The report includes stunning images of a massive, laser-guided telescope in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that can be used to surveil the satellites of potential adversaries like China.”

USAF Gen. Hyten explains that he believes China will soon be able to threaten U.S. satellites in “every orbital regime that we operate in,” from low Earth orbit a few hundred miles above the Earth, to geosynchronous orbit more than 20,000 miles up – where some of the military’s most important satellites circle the Earth.

“Now we have to figure out how to defend those satellites, and we’re going to,” Hyten says.

USAF Gen. John Hyten, the head of Air Force Space Command, at 31st National Space Symposium held earlier this month in Colorado Springs. Credit: The Space Foundation

USAF Gen. John Hyten, the head of Air Force Space Command, at 31st National Space Symposium held earlier this month in Colorado Springs.
Credit: The Space Foundation

Dealing with anti-satellites

General Hyten is asked whether a U.S. military satellite can maneuver itself out of the way of an upcoming anti-satellite weapon?

“The answer is maybe,” Hyten says. “It depends on the satellite…when it was built… how old it is…when we know the threat is coming.’”

Martin reports that the U.S. has tested anti-satellite weapons in the past and, by most accounts, spends 10 times more on space than the Chinese.

A White House document obtained by 60 Minutes estimates the Pentagon spends about $25 billion a year on space – more than NASA or any other space agency in the world. The estimate includes spy satellites and other classified spending.

In a statement, the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, told 60 Minutes that China is “committed to the peaceful use of outer space.”

Right of self-defense

Gen. Hyten says the U.S. wants peace but must be prepared for conflict.

“It’s a competition that I wish wasn’t occurring, but it is,” says Hyten. “If we’re threatened in space…we have the right of self-defense… and we’ll make sure we can execute that right.”

A preview of the show can be viewed at:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/preview-the-battle-above/

Note: Check your local listings for the broadcast on your CBS affiliate. If you miss the broadcast, 60Minutes will normally post their stories on-line soon after they air at:

http://www.cbsnews.com/60-minutes/

One Response to “The Battle Above: Chinese Weapons May Pose Threat”

  • Gary Church says:

    But will they mention the Kessler Syndrome?

    The only defense against near Earth orbit being profoundly contaminated with space debris (several tons of tungsten pellets would work)is a Moon base from which to operate sensor platforms outside the dead zone.

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