Lawmaker Asks Hagel for More Info on Chinese Launch

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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been asked by a member of the House Armed Services Committee for a briefing on a mid-May Chinese rocket launch Reuters and other U.S. media outlets branded an anti-satellite test. 

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) has asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for a briefing on a May 13 launch of a Chinese rocket. 

China on May 13 launched what it characterized as a scientific sounding rocket on a mission that the U.S. Air Force said followed a trajectory similar to those used in launches of geostationary orbiting satellites.

According to press release from the Chinese Academy of the Sciences’ National Space Science Center, the sounding rocket was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center and carried payloads for studying the high-energy particles in the upper atmosphere and near-Earth space.

But in a June 3 letter to Hagel, Forbes asked the Defense secretary if the Chinese had other motives for the launch.  

“Was the launch part of China’s antisatellite program?,” Forbes wrote. “If so, did the launch test a new or existing antisatellite capability?” 

Forbes also asks which orbit the rocket could potentially be targeting and requests an update on China’s current and projected anti-satellite capabilities.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy did not return a request for comment.