“The next major conflict may be won or lost in space,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Tuesday. “We must confront reality. Weapons are currently deployed by our competitors that can attack our assets in space.”
Shanahan said that the U.S. Military “is not moving fast enough to stay ahead” of its rivals China and Russia in the space race. He warned that both countries have already acquired weapon technologies with the intent to strike American spy satellites in the event of conflict.
“The PLA [Chinese People’s Liberation Army] is also deploying directed-energy weapons, and we expect them to field a ground-based laser system aimed at low-earth orbit space sensors by next year,” Shanahan told the audience. “They are also prepared to use cyber attacks against our space systems and have deployed an operational ground-based ASAT [anti-satellite] missile system.”
He said that current U.S missile defense shields are “not capable of tracking” Chinese and Russian hypersonic missiles.
“Because of their actions, space is no longer a sanctuary — it is now a war-fighting domain. This is not a future or theoretical threat; this is today’s threat,” Shanahan said.
The acting defense secretary endorsed President Trump’s Space Force, will allow the military to combat hypersonic attacks more effectively.
“By creating the new service inside the Air Force, the additional cost is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the DoD budget. Or put another way, the Space Force will cost about $1.50 per American per year,” Shanahan said, claiming that cost of the new service is relatively small compared to America’s $19 trillion economy.
The Pentagon currently spends more on defense than any other country.
“We are starting now because we refuse to fall behind. We can outpace our competitors and make it impossible for them to contest our dominance in space,” Shanahan concluded.