US, China to roll out 'Space Hotline' to avoid conflicts
The world's largest and second largest economies have established 'Space Hotline,' a new communications channel to serve as a diplomatic safety valve.
The officials of the US and China hope the new communication channel would resolve problems and avoid misunderstanding between the world's top power centers.
The US is keen on protecting its space assets as it's vital for defense intelligence and other sensitive data.
The very objective of Space Hotline is to avoid satellite warfare. The US and China, through the Space Hotline, can share information about their activities in space and satellites.
The Space Hotline will enable space and military departments of both nations to have comprehensive discussions about possible collisions, approaches or test pertaining to satellites.
US officials are well aware of what China is doing, which involves developing a full spectrum of anti-satellite capabilities.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Frank Rose, US assistant secretary of State, confirmed that China had done numerous tests.
"They view space as an asymmetric vulnerability of the United States. And if they can deny the United States and its allies access to space systems, they can gain military advantage here on earth. That's fundamentally what this is about", Rose said.
Previously, the notification process includes a lengthy diplomatic channel covering from the US to China were routed through Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) to Pentagon, to the state department to the US Embassy in Beijing to the Chinese government and vice versa. Now, the new Space Hotline have established direct contact between the two nations.
Earlier, The Verge recalls a dedicated Space Hotline was set up between the US and Russia since the Cold War. This similar Space Hotline has been set up with China as it's an established power in space technology.
China in 2007 blew up a satellite during its test of an anti-satellite weapon system. In the modern technology space age, by destroying orbiting satellites, one country can disable other's intelligence and defense mechanism.
Taking the arms race to space orbit, Beijing is also targeting the orbital networks, on which the US depends upon. China is testing its weapons competing with US' advanced military capabilities. Subsequently, the US and Russia are also ramping up their own space attack and defense platforms.
The US has already set up a Space Hotline with Russia as a legacy of the cold war. Russia is also believed to be in race of satellite killing technology.
The Space Hotline between the White House and Kremlin helped in avoiding annihilating each other by mistake during the Cold War. Now, the latest link with China is indicating the possible warfare in space.
Engadget explains there were attempts to keep space a weapon-free zone. However the major space-capable nations -- the US, Russia and China-- are developing anti-satellite weapons and defense mechanism.
The situation has become so sensitive even if any satellite is destroyed by accident, it will be misinterpreted as an attack on one's communication grid. So any disturbance in space could result in a war on earth.
The US and China are working on evolving a safety mechanism in the wake of increasing volume of lethal space debris in orbit in addition to numerous undisclosed military satellite launches.