The U.S. State Department raised concerns about a mysterious Russian satellite orbiting space in a "very abnormal" manner, according to Christian Davenport, the author of “The Space Barons.”
"We don't know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it," Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Yleem Poblete said at a conference in Switzerland on Aug. 14.
The government official also indicated the satellite could be used a weapon to take out U.S. systems (like GPS, internet and telephones) in space.
Davenport said a spacecraft capable of interfering with what he calls “the eyes and ears of the U.S. military and the intelligence community” should be a of grave concern.
“If there is a spacecraft out there in orbit, it could go up to U.S. satellites -- national security satellites that we are so dependent on for warfare,” Davenport said during an interview on FOX Business’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on Thursday.
In 2007, China fired a missile 537 miles above the Earth, hitting one of its own satellites.
Vice President Mike Pence called the action a "highly provocative demonstration of China's growing capability to militarize space" while announcing the Pentagon plans to launch a Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military.
“The time has come to establish the United States Space Force,” Pence said on Aug. 9.
Davenport said the Department of Defense is working on developing a network of smaller satellites in order to make them a harder target for foreign adversaries to hit.
“Just as computers have gone from huge mainframes down to your iPhone in your pocket, satellite technology has made these massive satellites the size of a refrigerator now the size of a shoe box,” he said.
In his book, Davenport notes that Silicon Valley billionaires, most notably Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, are using technology and innovation to dramatically lower the cost of space travel.
“What these billionaires are able to do is help the Pentagon get those satellites into space more cost effectively, more reliably, just quicker,” he said.
*The original article has been updated on 8-24-18 to reflect that the Chinese shot down one of their own satellites, not an American weather satellite.