60 Minutes offers glimpse of US Space Command

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The U.S.-based television news program, “60 Minutes” featured a rare look at the U.S. Space Command in its April 26 broadcast.

60 Minutes offers glimpse of US Space Command

The U.S.-based television news program, “60 Minutes” featured a rare look at the U.S. Space Command in its April 26 broadcast.

Reporter David Martin’s piece said U.S. officials are concerned about China’s anti-satellite capabilities, which could potentially threaten the U.S. military on the battlefield as well as disrupt GPS signals that serve smart phones, ATMs and power grids.

USAF Gen. John Hyten, the head of Air Force Space Command, tells Martin 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 twenty thousand miles up where some of the military’s most important satellites circle the Earth.

“Today, can a U.S. Military satellite maneuver itself out of the way of an upcoming anti-satellite weapon?” Martin asks. “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 ten 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.”