General Chance Saltzman, the Space Force Chief, says the US is facing a ‘new era’ of threats beyond Earth.
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When Gen. Chance Saltzman took the stage for his keynote at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this week, his message was simple: The U.S. is in a new era of space activity.
“The threats that we face to our on-orbit capabilities from our strategic competitors [have] grown substantially,” Saltzman, the U.S. Space Force’s second-ever chief of space operations, said in a CNBC interview after the speech. “The congestion we’re seeing in space with tracked objects and the number of satellite payloads, and just the launches themselves, have grown at an exponential rate.”
“I want to make sure that we are thinking about our processes and procedures differently,” he said in an interview for CNBC’s “Manifest Space” podcast, his first broadcast interview since becoming the service’s highest-ranking military official last November.
The message comes at a key moment as space rapidly commercializes and a heightened geopolitical backdrop increasingly sees threats extending beyond Earth to a domain for which rules of engagement remain unclear.
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Military experts say space is likely to be the front line in any future conflicts – a battlefield that could extend to the private sector and impact civilians in real time. Look no further than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an example: Recall the unprecedented cyberattack on the European communications network of U.S. satellite operator Viasat just as Russian soldiers mobilized to cross sovereign boundaries.
Rakesh Sharma, who is the first Indian cosmonaut, said that “We’ve got aliens living on this planet.”