Why is it in the news?
- China has taken a significant step in the realm of military technology by creating the world’s first ‘Near-Space Command.’
More about the news
- Near-space, in this context, refers to the region in Earth’s atmosphere situated approximately 20 to 100 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, which is known as the
- This command is notable for its primary focus on utilizing powerful hypersonic weapons, which are capable of achieving speeds of at least Mach 5, five times the speed of sound.
- The establishment of a near-space command marks China’s recognition of the strategic importance of this region. While traditional military domains like land, sea, and air have been well-established, space and near-space are emerging as new battlegrounds.
- In 2019, the United States created the Space Force, a dedicated military branch tasked with handling threats in space. This move highlighted the growing recognition of space and near-space as critical domains for national security.
- China’s near-space command is expected to consist of various components, with a primary focus on hypersonic weapons. Hypersonic weapons are known for their exceptional speed and manoeuverability, making them challenging to defend against.
- Additionally, the command is likely to incorporate technologies such as:
- Spy Balloons: These balloons can be equipped with surveillance equipment and can operate in the near-space region, providing valuable intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities.
- Solar-Powered Long-Endurance Drones: These drones can operate at high altitudes for extended durations, offering surveillance, communication, and potentially offensive capabilities.
- Equipment: Other equipment tailored for operations in the near-space region, which may include communication systems, navigation tools, and defensive measures.
Advantages of Near Space
- The thin atmosphere in near space makes it inhospitable for most conventional aircraft. This characteristic provides a layer of protection for assets operating in this region.
- Launching and maintaining satellites in near space can be more cost-effective than placing them in higher orbits. This cost efficiency can translate into a more extensive satellite network for various purposes, including communication and surveillance.
- Assets in near space can be less vulnerable to terrestrial targets, offering strategic advantages for both offensive and defensive operations.
Challenges of Near Space
- Maintaining equipment in near space can be challenging due to the thin atmosphere, which affects propulsion, communication, and overall operational capabilities.
- Logistics for near-space operations, including resupplying and servicing equipment, can be complex and costly.