Space Race

By Dan Dupont / September 19, 2008 at 5:00 AM

And it is a race -- for the new administration to figure out what to do with space, according to a new report written up today on

In the wake of last year's Chinese anti-satellite test and the more recent U.S. shoot-down of a defective intelligence satellite, the next administration needs to address as soon as possible what kind of international space regime best suits its interests, according to a new Council on Foreign Relations report.

Last December, a Chinese missile destroyed an aging weather satellite, and earlier this year, the United States shot down a defective intelligence satellite deemed to pose a danger to human health because of its toxic fuel.

"While the United States will likely remain the preeminent space power at least for the next twenty to thirty years, it will no longer enjoy the level of near-monopoly on military space capability that it has enjoyed since the fall of the Soviet Union," the report, released Sept. 18, states. "As China becomes a credible space power with a demonstrated offensive counterspace capability, the question for U.S. policy is what kind of feasible and stable space regime best serves U.S. long-term security interests.

"This question should be addressed early in the new administration's tenure, if not earlier," the report emphasizes.

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey recently wrote his own report on Air Force Space Command, asserting that because the existing Air Force space strategy is "under-resourced and severely constrained," the next administration will have "at most a year" to make critical decisions relating to the United States' global superiority in space -- before it starts "rapidly eroding."