Rep. Forbes: What Did China Launch? When Did Obama Admin. Know It?

What did China really launch into space, and when did Obama administration officials know it? That’s what GOP House Armed Services Committee member Randy Forbes of Virginia wants to know. And he’s pressing President Obama’s hand-picked defense secretary for some answers.

The early May Chinese “launch of a missile ‘nearly to geosynchronous orbit’ requires additional answers from the Defense Department as to whether Beijing has tested an anti-satellite capability,” Forbes tells Hagel in a letter dated Monday.

“Since its 2007 test of an anti-satellite weapon, China has demonstrated its desire to expand its anti-access strategy to the space domain,” Forbes’ office said in a press release summarizing the letter. “I have asked Secretary Hagel to provide additional information to the Congress on the nature of this missile launch so that we can take the appropriate action to ensure the protection of U.S. interests.”

Specifically, the HASC Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee chairman asked Hagel to shed a little light on these questions:

“If the launch was related to anti-satellite weaponry, did it represent a new or existing anti-satellite capability?

What type of attack mechanism was the missile designed to employ (i.e. kinetic kill vehicle, space mine, electronic warfare or directed energy weapon)?

Why did Beijing attempt to disguise an anti-satellite weapon as a scientific experiment and has the Defense Department raised this issue with China?

What are China’s current and projected abilities to target U.S. satellites? To which U.S. satellites do these capabilities pose the greatest risk? How does DoD plan to mitigate this threat?”

(Illustration: Rubberball/Mike Kemp/via Getty images)

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett