On 15 October 2003 China launched their first ‘taikonaut,’ the Chinese term for an astronaut, into space on the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft
This has been followed by further space exploration achievements, including an Earth-orbiting laboratory called Tiangong-1 and a lunar rover named Jade Rabbit.
But is it all a front to build anti-satellite technology? That’s what one expert warns we should be wary of, and not just from China, but Iran and North Korea as well.
A paper by a national security expert claims that China has used performed anti-satellite tests. In 2007 China infamously shot down one of its own weather satellites in a test, creating thousands of new pieces of space junk in orbit. Pictured is a view of the space rocket launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China
In a paper called Dangerous Space Incidents, Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations explains how satellites could be under threat from the rising space exploration capabilities of certain nations.
Such fears are not without precedent; on 11 January 2007 China infamously carried out an anti-satellite missile test, destroying one of its own satellites at a height of 537 miles (865 kilometres).
Aside from resulting in thousands of pieces of dangerous space junk, which remain a problem today, the stunt also highlighted how under vulnerable some of the essential satellites run by Western nations are.
Zenko points to the large amounts of assets held by the US in space that could be prone to attack.
These include satellites for national and global security.
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.