Last month, we reported that China successfully conducted a test with a hypersonic missile system.
Now a US Space Force general is warning about the state of U.S. hypersonic technology compared to Russia and China.
American hypersonic missile capabilities are “not as advanced” as those of China or Russia, Space Force General David Thompson said Saturday at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, signaling that the U.S. is behind in developing the newest and most cutting-edge weaponry.
Thompson admitted during an interview that the U.S. lagging behind the other two countries is potentially dangerous for national security.
“We have catching up to do very quickly, the Chinese have an incredible hypersonic program,” he said. “It’s a very concerning development … it greatly complicates the strategic warning problem.”
Thompson also expanded upon the capabilities of hypersonic missiles and explained why Americans should be concerned.
He compared a hypersonic glide vehicle to a “magical snow ball.” Normally, “if I’m throwing a snowball at you, the instant that snowball leaves my hand you have a sense of whether or not it’s going to hit you.”
That is how strategic warning systems have operated for decades. “A hypersonic missile changes that game entirely,” he said. The hypersonic missile does not travel in a predictable trajectory. “Combine that with a fractional orbital bombardment system, I’m going to throw the snowball, it’s going to go around the world and it’s going to come in and hit you in the back of the head.”
“And so that’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with, that you no longer have that predictability. And so every launch, regardless of where it’s headed, now has the potential that it could be a threat,” said Thompson.
“And even if you can track that maneuvering weapon, you don’t know until very late in the flight where it’s going because it’s maneuvering the entire time … and you’re not sure whether it’s an attack,” he added. “You don’t know the target until the last minute. And so that changes the strategic warning game.”
Fortunately, there is some good news from Space Force. The first successful Astra launch carried a payload for the Space Test Program called STP-27AD2 through a contract arranged by the branch through its Defense Innovation Unit.
Astra Space’s Rocket 3.3 successfully reached orbit on a Nov. 20 launch, the fourth orbital launch attempt by the small launch vehicle startup.
The Rocket 3.3 vehicle, with the serial number LV0007, lifted off at 1:16 a.m. Eastern from Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska on Kodiak Island. Astra scrubbed a launch attempt the previous day after more than two hours of delays.
The flight went as planned, with the first stage firing for about three minutes. The upper stage then separated and fired its single engine for approximately five and a half minutes, injecting the stage into an orbit nearly 500 kilometers high.
Check the following video to hear from Thompson about the build-up of the US Space Force.
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