October 19, 2021

China’s Orbital Bombardment System Is Big, Bad News—but Not a Breakthrough

Jeffrey Lewis | Foreign Policy

Over the weekend, the Financial Times reported that in August, China tested a new hypersonic weapons system that circled the globe. While the word “hypersonic” has gotten all the attention, what is more interesting is that the weapon entered orbit. This is no mere hypersonic system but what Cold Warriors called an “orbital bombardment system.” People are freaking out, with some calling it a “Sputnik moment.” But just what is this thing, and how bad is it? Well, it’s an FOBS—a fractional orbital bombardment system. It’s not new. The Soviet Union deployed a similar system during the Cold War. But China’s test of such a system is unwelcome news, not because it’s some fantastic futuristic technology but because it is yet another step in a pointless, costly, and dangerous arms race.


North Korea Tests Possible Submarine Missile Amid Tensions

Kim Tong-Hyung, Hung-Jin Kim, and Mari Yamaguchi | Associated Press

North Korea on Tuesday fired at least one ballistic missile, which South Korea’s military said was likely designed to be launched from a submarine, in what is possibly the most significant demonstration of the North’s military might since U.S. President Joe Biden took office. The launch of the missile into the sea came hours after the U.S. reaffirmed an offer to resume talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. It underscored how North Korea has continued to expand its military capabilities during the pause in diplomacy.


IAEA Chief Warns Iran Nuclear Surveillance Is No Longer ‘Intact’

Katrina Manson | Financial Times

The head of the UN’s atomic watchdog has warned that stop-gap measures to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities are no longer “intact” amid concerns that talks to resurrect a global agreement to curb Tehran’s atomic work have stalled. Rafael Grossi, director-general of the IAEA, told the Financial Times in an interview he urgently needed to meet Tehran’s foreign minister to discuss proposals to reinvigorate the fragile surveillance programme. “I haven’t been able to talk to [Iran’s new] foreign minister,” Grossi told the FT during a visit to Washington. “I need to have this contact at the political level. This is indispensable. Without it, we cannot understand each other.”


From Spy Satellites to Mobile Networks, S. Korea Pins Space Hopes on New Rocket

Josh Smith | Reuters

South Korea plans to test its first domestically produced space launch vehicle next week, a major step toward jumpstarting the country’s space programme and achieving ambitious goals in 6G networks, spy satellites, and even lunar probes. If all goes well, the three-stage NURI rocket, designed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) to eventually put 1.5-ton payloads into orbit 600 to 800km above the Earth, will carry a dummy satellite into space on Thursday.


US Army’s Precision Strike Missile Breaks Distance Record in Flight Test

Jen Judson | Defense News

The U.S. Army’s Precision Strike Missile broke its distance record in a flight test at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, Oct. 13, according to an Oct. 14 Lockheed Martin statement. Lockheed Martin is the PrSM developer. The company and the Army have conducted five consecutive successful flight tests. The company did not disclose the distance the PrSM traveled in its flight test, but the goal of the test was to see exactly how far the missile can travel beyond its previous set requirement of 499 kilometers.


‘We Go Together’: US Space Force Chief Seeks Deeper Space Cooperation With South Korea

Park Si-soo | Space News

The U.S. Space Force’s top general expressed hope for deepening cooperation with South Korea’s military Oct. 18, saying “Katchi Kapshida,” which means “We go together” in Korean, a symbolic slogan of the long-standing Korea-U.S. alliance. Chief of U.S. Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond cited the slogan during his video message for the 22nd International Aerospace Symposium at Grand InterContinental Hotel here, a biennial event organized by the Republic of Korea Air Force.