WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Co-Chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation and Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, denounced the reported Chinese test of an anti-satellite missile system and renewed his call on President Bush to negotiate an international agreement to ban the development, testing, deployment and utilization of space weapons and anti-satellite systems.  According to press reports, China destroyed one of its obsolete weather satellites, the FY-1C, with a ground-launched ballistic missile.  The successful anti-satellite test is the first of its kind in over 20 years and could signal the start of an increasingly dangerous and unstable arms race in space.

“The Chinese anti-satellite test is terrible news for international stability and security, and could presage the dawn of a new arms race — this time in space,” Rep. Markey said.  “American satellites are the soft underbelly of our national security, and it is urgent that President Bush move to guarantee their protection by initiating an international agreement to ban the development, testing, and deployment of space weapons and anti-satellite systems.”

“The United States leads the world in space-based assets for communications, weather prediction, and military missions of all kinds.  An arms race in space to develop anti-satellite weapons would cause needless instability and threaten American economic and national security.  Again, I urge the Bush Administration to negotiate a ban on testing and deploying these weapons,” Markey concluded. The FY-1C was stationed at a Low Earth Orbit of approximately 500 miles above the earth.  A massive cloud of debris is expected to result from the breakup of the satellite, threatening the many government and military imaging, weather and communications satellites within Low Earth Orbit.  Among the vital space-based assets at Low Earth Orbit is the Iridium constellation, a 66-satellite constellation of communications satellites used heavily by commercial and military clients. 

The fleet of weather satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also functions at Low Earth Orbit, including those used in the joint U.S.-Russian program for maritime search-and-rescue. Additionally, all manned space missions including the Shuttle and the International Space Station, utilize Low Earth Orbit and are thereby put at risk by the debris cloud.

For more information on Rep. Markey’s work on non-proliferation and telecommunications policy, please go to http://markey.house.gov