SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY via Getty Images / Steven McDowell

The Air & Space Brief: China cyberspace sanctions, First wooden satellite, China concern, Militarized space?

Hello and welcome to Defense One’s Air Force and Space Force newsletter, a weekly look at the events and headlines shaping military aviation and aerospace policy. 

The Biden administration announced new measures—but no sanctions—early Monday aimed at exposing and disrupting China’s government-sponsored cyber criminal activities. The new approach relies heavily on allies collectively putting sanctions on China to pressure them to stop, senior administration officials said. “No one action can change China’s behavior in cyberspace and neither can just one country acting on its own,” the officials said. 

China’s space program is more militarized than you might think, authors Taylor Lee and Peter Singer reveal. China’s National Space Administration, launch and recovery sites, and the program itself all fall under the People’s Liberation Army. “Understanding these connections is important for any plans to cooperate with China in space, whether governmental or commercial,” Singer and Lee argue. 

A Finnish company is preparing to launch the world’s first plywood satellite into space. The WISA Woodsat is being developed by Finland-based Arctic Astronautics, Ltd.; the European Space Agency, or ESA; and Finland-based forester UPM, maker of WISA plywood. The creators think it could help keep space debris to a minimum because after the satellite is spent and begins to fall from orbit, it will burn up in the atmosphere. 

Jeff Bezos told the Today show Monday that his anticipated launch Tuesday into space from Texas aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket is not about competing with fellow billionaire-turned-astronaut Richard Branson, but about paving the way for more people to follow. “This is about building a road to space so that future generations can do incredible things in space,” Bezos told Today. Bezos’ crew includes Mercury 13 astronaut team member Wally Funk, 82, who was not allowed to fly with her crew in the 1960s because she is female. 

Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Monday from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. On July 19,1985 Christa McAuliffe was announced as the first teacher to fly into space. She and the rest of the Challenger crew perished during launch on Jan. 28, 1986. 


From Defense One

Biden Goes After China’s Cyber Attackers // Patrick Tucker: U.S. and allies blame China’s government, announce new measures to fight a massive cyber criminal ring akin to Russia’s, but threaten no sanctions yet.

China’s Space Program Is More Military Than You Might Think // Taylor A. Lee and Peter W. Singer: Proposals for U.S.-Chinese cooperation must proceed carefully.

Plywood Satellite Cleared for Space Launch // Tara Copp: The WISA Woodsat could reduce space debris by using materials that will burn as they fall back into Earth’s atmosphere.

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