NATO plans space center to counter Russia, China satellite threats

NATO will set up a new space command center in Germany aimed at countering threats to satellite infrastructure in orbit, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday.

“Some nations – including Russia and China – are developing anti-satellite systems which could blind, disable or shoot down satellites and create dangerous debris in orbit,” Stoltenberg said in an emailed statement. “We must increase our understanding of the challenges in space and our ability to address them.”

The creation of the center at the Ramstein air base in Germany is supposed to be agreed during a meeting of NATO defense ministers that starts on Thursday, he said.

The move by NATO underscores an increased focus on extraterrestrial threats. Late last year, NATO decided to designate space as the fifth theater for conflict alongside air, sea, land and cyber.

Countries such as the U.S. and France have already outlined their own plans to set up military space command programs.

“This [center in Ramstein] will be a focal point for ensuring space support to NATO operations, sharing information and coordinating our activities,“ Stoltenberg said.

Around half of the estimated 2,000 satellites currently orbiting earth are owned by NATO countries. The EU has already spent billions launching satellites that make up its Galileo geolocation constellation and the Copernicus earth observation system.

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