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World’s First ‘Near-Space Command’

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.

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