Joint efforts made to safeguard outer space security

14:35, November 23, 2009      

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Major countries around the world have stepped up their activities in the outer space since the entry of the 21st century. In view of their programs for the development of outer space, the use of it for both peaceful and military purposes will enter an activated period in the next 10 to 20 years. So, the security issues of outer space would arouse widespread concerns.

At present, security in outer space is primarily faced with the two issues of entirely different natures.

First, a growing number of countries involving in the activities in outer space and the increasing weight of space objects would negatively affect security in outer space. Along with the involvement of more and more countries in space activities, there has been an orbital congestion and an increase in the frequency of tension and debris issues. To date, at lease 20 countries have a space launch capability, more than 40 countries possess satellites, some 130 countries and regions have partaken in the project in outer space development and utilization. Currently, there are approximately 13,000 big or medium-sized objects floating on the earth orbit, of which six to seven percent are satellites in operation.

In term of satellites in geo-sychronous orbit from the distribution point of view, the satellite orbits are in a crowded situation. The vast majority of debris suspending in low-earth orbits are less than 10 cm in length, but even smaller fragments may cause serious damages to the spacecraft. To cope with such thorny problems, the international community is working hard for a positive solution through cooperation and coordination.

Second, the weaponization of outer space menaces security in outer space. Some countries have reportedly gone in for the research and development of space weapons system such as the space-based radio-frequency weapons, which can reflect laser beam to destroy the low-earth orbit and geostationary-orbit satellite relay mirror, super-fast rods and so on. Some space warfare theories, doctrines and operation regulations have been introduced.

There is a viewpoint prevalent in a nation that the deployment of weapon system in outer space is to ensure its own strategic advances and protect its own space assets and thus enjoy its exclusive security in the outer space. This is a shortsighted and dangerous view however, since no country can monopolize technological progress. And unlike communications, navigations, surveillances, early warning and other general military applications, the release of direct lethal and antagonistic weapon systems into outer space would inevitably give rise to new armed race, seriously undermine the international security environment, and hinder the international arms control and disarmament process. So, it can be said that the weaponization of outer space poses the most serious and urgent threat to space security.

If the outer space truly becomes a new battleground, there is a possibility that the humanity would eventually destroy the assets of outer space overnight. So, it can be said that the weaponization of outer space poses the most serious and urgent threat to space security.

In order to maintain outer space security, the international community needs to establish a common concept concerning security in outer space. Both developing and developed countries the world over are share takers or holders of outer space security. Once security in outer space is sabotaged or undermined, the humanity will be victimized as a whole. Hence, decision makers must be prudent toward outer space security issues and avert any irresponsible moves, which may cause an irretrievable loss thereof.

It is the duty of humanity to maintain security in outer space. All activities in the outer space should be conducive for humanity. Development of modern society hinges on the support of space assets, and the outer space constitutes irreplaceable resources for humanity. All countries should have equal rights in the peaceful use of outer space and, in the meantime, take responsibilities in maintaining security in outer space.

Provided the relevant countries, particularly those with more advanced space capabilities, show their adequate willingness and wisdom, confer each other on an equal footing, accumulate the common ground and enhance their mutual trust, then the goal of curbing the weaponization of outer space is hopeful to materialize.

By People's Daily Online and contributed by PD reporter Hu Yumin
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