BERLIN: With China and Russia seeking to become leading space powers in the near future, a senior defence analyst for space and counter space of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Keith Ryder warned on Tuesday that Moscow and Beijing plan to explore and exploit the natural resources of the moon and Mars over the next 30 years.
"Both nations (China, Russia) seek to broaden their space exploration initiatives together and individually, with plans to explore the moon and Mars during the next 30 years, and if successful, these efforts will likely lead to attempts by Beijing and Moscow to exploit the moon's natural resources," Ryder said during a press briefing.
This comes after the US Defense Intelligence Agency published a new report on challenges to security in space that focuses on Russia and China as the main competitors of the United States in this domain.
According to this report, Russia and China seek to become leading space powers in the near future.
"Beijing and Moscow seek to position themselves as leading space powers, intent on creating new global space norms. Through the use of space and counter-space capabilities, they aspire to undercut US global leadership," the agency said.
The combined space fleet of Russia and China has grown by 70 per cent between 2019 and 2021, while in the 2015-2018 period the two countries increased their respective fleets by more than 200 per cent, DIA said.
"Between 2019 and 2021 the combined operational space fleets of China and Russia have grown by approximately 70 per cent. This recent and continuing expansion follows a period of growth (2015-2018) where China and Russia had increased their combined satellite fleets by more than 200 per cent," the agency added.
Challenges to Security in Space was first published in early 2019 to address the main threats to the array of US space capabilities, and examine space and counter space strategies and systems pursued primarily by China and Russia and, to a lesser extent, by North Korea and Iran.
This second edition builds on that work and provides an updated, unclassified overview of the threats to US space capabilities, particularly from China and Russia, as those threats continue to expand.
According to the report, the drive to modernize and increase capabilities for both countries is reflected in nearly all major space categories--satellite communications (SATCOM), remote sensing, navigation-related, and science and technology demonstration.
"Since early 2019, competitor space operations have also increased in pace and scope worldwide, China's and Russia's counter space developments continue to mature, global space services proliferate, and orbital congestion has increased," it added.