Lieutenant General John Hyten, Vice Commander of Air Force Space Command, says he really hopes that space will not become a battlefield. “You can recover from wars on earth after a few years, but it would take a lot of time to recover from a war in space”
“I really hope that all the nations of the world understand our national policy that space is not meant to be a battlefield, but a peaceful place for cooperation. But if our space capabilities are challenged, the United States must be ready to protect them”, Lieutenant General John Hyten, Vice Commander of Air Force Space Command, said in an interview with IAF Magazine. He took part in a space conference named after the late Ilan Ramon at IAF House in Herzilya.
More than 40,000 people serve in Air Force Space Command, with responsibility for security and military matters involving outer space and related to American national security.
“We fully cooperate with NASA in many areas, such as launches, flight safety in space and alerts to any risks”, explains Hyten. “For example, we inform NASA about debris near satellites and dangerous objects approaching the space station and NASA decides whether to move the station based on the information we give them. The difference between the DoD space program and NASA is that they concentrate on space exploration and our goal is to protect the United States”.
Hyten says there is no “space race” between nations as there was in the 50s and 60s. Instead, he says, there is fierce competition.
Seven years ago, in January 2007, China shot down a satellite in space using a missile fired from the ground. Ever since, fragments of the same satellite float around space and endanger the space-related activities of other nations. This is one of the examples of situations that are likely to arise following an uncoordinated activity of one country or another.
“Because there is competition in space, all the countries that take part in the competition have to maintain responsible behavior, honor agreements and not create situations that are likely to endanger the activities of other countries”, he says.
Lieutenant General Hyten says that the space command mainly deals with a combination of space activities and cyber-space operations.
“Regarding cyber, we have just begun to scratch the surface of this great area which is still an unfamiliar area in which we still have a lot to discover”.
He supports international cooperation in space. “I’ve seen at the conference here a group of young students who decided to build and launch a satellite and I wish them luck. I strongly support cooperation on all activities in space”.