Secret US space plane returns to earth for US-China summit
, 2022-11-14 17:59:00,
Two days before US president Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held a frosty confab in Bali, a secret, autonomous spacecraft descended from its orbit hundreds of miles above the planet to land at Cape Canaveral.
Its timing, however coincidental, served to underscore how the greatest tensions between China and the US may not be on land or sea.
“I absolutely believe there need not be a new Cold War,” Biden told reporters after his meeting with Xi on Monday, Nov. 14. But there’s clearly a nascent Cold War-style arms race taking place in space, with nations testing and revealing new tools in orbit designed to give each other pause.
The X-37B, a Boeing-built spacecraft operated by the US Space Force, had spent 908 days in space, a new record. Ostensibly, it was there to test new technology for the military and for NASA. But unlike most small spacecraft, it has a propulsion system powerful enough to alter its orbit , which makes it easier to hide.
That “means our adversaries don’t know…where it’s going to come up next,” former Pentagon official Heather Wilson said in 2019. “And we know that that drives them nuts. And I’m really glad about that.”
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What does warfare in space look like?
In 2019, military experts told Quartz that a “space Pearl Harbor” over Taiwan was a key concern for the US. Its military depends on satellites to project power…
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