SYDNEY, Australia: Lt. General Nina Armagno of the U.S. Space Force has said that rapid advancements in China's military capabilities pose increasing risks to American supremacy in outer space.
Armagno, who is the head of the U.S. military's space wing, also said Beijing had made significant progress in developing military space technology, including in satellite communications.
During an event in Sydney run by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Armagno said, "I think it is entirely possible they could catch up and surpass us, absolutely. The progress they have made has been stunning, stunningly fast," as quoted by Reuters.
China has made significant advances in recent years in the space race, previously dominated by the U.S. and Russia, alarming Washington and other Western nations.
Ye Peijian, head of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, said the moon and Mars are like the contested islands in the South China Sea, which Beijing is attempting to claim.
China is also developing experimental technology for mining asteroids and minor planets for natural resources.
"China is the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order and increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to achieve that objective," Armagno said.
The fourth branch of the U.S. military, the Space Force was founded in 2019, partly to counter the rising capabilities of China, and is set to launch three astronauts to its new space station this week.
Armagno is the U.S. agency's first permanent commander.