U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the Apollo 11 Mission Commander, standing next to the Lunar Module "Eagle" on the moon July 20, 1969. REUTERS/Buzz Aldrin-NASA/Handout
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Fifty years after astronauts first walked on the moon, space wars have gone from Hollywood fantasy to looming threat.As with the Cold War-era space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, the new global space race has an important symbolic dimension. Others, such as anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons technologies that can target space assets, are offensive.China, which established an independent space force in 2016, is aiming for global leadership in space.And both China and Russia have demonstrated offensive space capabilities in the form of "experimental" satellites that can potentially aid military operations. This highlights the tremendous vulnerability of these assets, and not just those belonging to the U.S. The existing space infrastructure comprises at least 1,880 satellites owned or operated by 45 countries. In March, the country used a ballistic-missile interceptor to destroy one of its own satellites orbiting at nearly 30,000 kilometers per hour, making it the fourth power -- after the U.S., Russia, and China -- to shoot down an object in space.Unlike China's 2007 demonstration of its ASAT capabilities, which left more than 3,000 pieces of debris in orbit, the Indian test faced no international criticism, largely because it was intended to blunt China's edge in space-war capabilities.
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