Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr Creative Commons
The launch pad tower at SLC-3 is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V rocket with the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) spacecraft onboard on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon's chief space commander, Gen. William Shelton, warned of the risk of conflict in space at a trade conference in Colorado Springs. He also stressed the importance of ending reliance on Russian-made rocket engines.
Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, said the U.S. military has come to rely on space-based technology for things like communications and GPS, and countries like China have expressed interest in targeting military space technology.
Recently, tensions between the U.S. and Russia have escalated over Russia's annexation of Crimea. The U.S. issued sanctions against Russia, some involving Russian officials involved in their space program.
In retaliation, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Rogovin announced last week that Russia will pull out of the International Space Station after 2020 and cease transporting American astronauts. He also threatened to stop exporting Russian engines used in American rockets that launch national security equipment into space.
Could a conflict in space be in our future?