Connect with us

Published

on

Two military chiefs have criticised China and Russia for “reckless” behaviour in space, such as using weapons to destroy satellites, leaving a trail of dangerous debris orbiting Earth.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the head of the Royal Air Force, and General Sir Patrick Sanders, commander of Strategic Command, also for the first time left open the possibility that the UK could develop its own weapons to defend assets in space.

“I am not ruling out what we might do in the future, but we don’t want to weaponise space,” General Sanders told Sky News.

“We don’t want it to become a place where – to use your language – there is conflict or even war in space. We want to make sure it is a common good for all because we all derive so much benefit from it.”

The two commanders were speaking at the official opening of the UK Space Command, which will take charge of all military work involving space – now considered a domain of operations alongside land, sea, air, and cyberspace.

Air Chief Marshal Wigston said: “When diplomacy has run its course and we find ourselves in a global conflict, it might not start in space but I am in no doubt it will move very quickly to space and it will most likely be won or lost in space.”

The new organisation, headquartered at RAF High Wycombe, will bolster the UK’s ability to track threats in space, from space junk to deliberate attacks in coordination with key allies such as the US, Australia and France.

More from World

The air chief described Russia and China’s activities in space as “reckless”.

People watch from a beach as the Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the core module of China's space station Tianhe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, China April 29, 2021
Image:
The UK wants new international rules to govern behaviour in space. File pic

Offering an example, he said a few years ago, Beijing deliberately destroyed a satellite with an anti-satellite weapon, creating debris that is still circulating Earth today.

“Those are lumps of space junk which are travelling at thousands of kilometres an hour,” he said.

“If they hit the International Space Station or one of our satellites that we depend on in our day-to-day lives that would have or could have a disastrous effect on the movement of medical equipment, our transport networks, our power networks.”

Describing the threat further, he said: “Right now we see countries like Russia and China testing and demonstrating anti-satellite weapons – satellites with all the characteristics of a weapon deployed in space.

“We see them rehearsing, manoeuvring, which frankly have only one purpose which is to destroy satellites, so that is a real concern to us and that’s behaviour that we would want the international community to call out.”

Rather than launch space weapons back in their direction, the main strategy the UK is pursuing to deter this kind of activity is to develop a new set of international rules to govern behaviour in space, the two officers said.

The UK will also use its radars and satellites, which will fall under the control of Space Command, to improve visibility of what threats are out there.

However, the commanders indicated that developing physical capabilities to defend assets in space at some future point had not been ruled out.

A badge of the Shenzhou-12 Manned Space Flight Mission is seen on the uniform of a staff member of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center during a news conference before the Shenzhou-12 mission to build China's space station, at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province, China June 16, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Image:
Beijing destroyed a satellite with an anti-satellite weapon, creating debris that is still circulating Earth. File pic

“I am open minded about all aspects of what we might do in the future and there are all sorts of things we might potentially do,” Air Chief Marshal Wigston said.

“But right now our focus is on turning on the lights in space and making sure we understand what is going on.”

The number of personnel across the RAF, Army and Royal Navy assigned to UK Space Command is starting in the tens to hundreds.

But the plan is to expand the force into the thousands.

The first eight “Space Operator” badges were handed out to individuals at the opening ceremony.

None of the people involved in Space Command actually fly into space. Instead they work from Earth monitoring things like military satellites and space radar systems.

Continue Reading

World

Two bodies found in search for missing TV presenter Jesse Baird and his partner

Published

on

By

Two bodies found in search for missing TV presenter Jesse Baird and his partner

Two bodies have been found in the search for a missing Australian TV presenter and his partner, who were allegedly killed by a police officer.

Jesse Baird, 26, and his flight attendant partner Luke Davies, 29, were allegedly shot dead in Mr Baird’s Sydney home last week.

Beau Lamarre-Condon, a police officer who was in a relationship with Mr Baird until late last year, was charged on Friday with the murders of both men.

Police said Lamarre-Condon provided them with information that led them to the bodies, which were found in a rural area around 124 miles southwest of Sydney.

The New South Wales force allege the 28-year-old officer and ex-celebrity blogger killed the couple at Mr Baird’s home in the Paddington area of the city on Monday and hired a white van to dispose of their bodies. Neighbours reportedly heard an argument at the property that morning.

Mr Baird was a presenter with Network 10 until December. Mr Davies was a Qantas flight attendant.

Flowers laid outside Jesse Baird's home in Sydney. Pic: AP
Image:
Flowers laid outside Jesse Baird’s home in Sydney. Pic: AP

The Mardi Gras board said LGBT+ communities across Australia had been devastated by the loss of the couple, who had planned to celebrate at the annual parade on Saturday.

The incident has prompted Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras organisers to ask police not to march on the weekend, a move the police commissioner urges them to reconsider.

The board said police presence could “add to the distress within our communities”, which are “already deeply affected by recent events”.

Karen Webb (second left) waving as she marched in the 2023 Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. Pic: AP
Image:
Karen Webb (second left) waving as she marched in the 2023 Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. Pic: AP

“This decision was not made lightly, especially considering that many… police members who participate in the parade are also members of the LGBTQIA+ community and are navigating the impact of this tragedy alongside us,” the board added.

“However, we believe that their participation at this year’s event could intensify the current feelings of sorrow and distress.”

The alleged killer has been part of the parade in the past, the board said.

Police Commissioner Karen Webb, who has taken part in the annual march since 2006, said she will meet with the organisers in a bid to reverse their decision.

“We’re not dealing with a gay hate crime here,” she said. “We’re dealing with a domestic homicide and… I’m disappointed [by] the position that Mardi Gras board has taken on this issue.”

Read more:
Taylor Swift’s dad accused of punching photographer in face
Producer accuses P Diddy of forcing him to have sex with prostitutes

She added this time “more than any in our society” is “time to come together”.

We’re talking about inclusion, we’re talking about diversity and to exclude part of that community, I think, sends a wrong message,” she added.

Continue Reading

World

Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed ‘by end of the weekend’

Published

on

By

Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed 'by end of the weekend'

Joe Biden has said he hopes a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas can be secured by the weekend.

The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, next door to 30 Rock in New York, on Monday.

Flanked by late night TV show host Seth Meyers, Mr Biden was asked by reporters on when a ceasefire in Gaza could start.

In a surprise turn, he said that he hopes it will take place “by the end of the weekend”.

“My national security advisor (Jake Sullivan) tells me that we’re close, we’re close, we’re not done yet,” he said. “My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”

Mr Biden’s comments come as Israel prepares to start a military operation in Rafah – which he has warned against without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.

Pic: AP
Image:
The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, New York. Pic: AP

Israel has said it will go ahead with an offensive on the city if hostages are not returned by 10 March, which is when Ramadan starts.

More on Gaza

According to NBC News, Sky news’ US partner network, Qatar is mediating talks between Israel and Hamas this week, and ceasefire negotiations have taken place between US, Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials in Paris.

Should it happen, it would be the second ceasefire following one in November which saw several hundred Palestinians released from Israeli jails and about 100 hostages freed by Hamas.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said earlier on Monday that the Israeli Defence Force proposed a plan for the evacuation of civilians from “fighting areas” to the country’s war cabinet.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

You can receive Breaking News alerts on a smartphone or tablet via the Sky News App. You can also follow @SkyNews on X or subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with the latest news.

Continue Reading

World

Alexei Navalny was set to be part of prison swap before he died, claims ally

Published

on

By

Alexei Navalny was set to be part of prison swap before he died, claims ally

Alexei Navalny was set to be freed as part of a prisoner swap when he died, one of his allies has claimed.

The Russian opposition leader died at a penal colony within the Artic Circle on 16 February, while serving a 19-year prison sentence on charges his supporters said were politically motivated.

It has now been claimed that the prisoner-swap talks were in their “final stages” when Mr Navalny died.

In a video posted on the late Kremlin critic’s YouTube channel, Maria Pevchikh – who lives outside Russia – said: “Alexei Navalny could have been sitting here now, today. It’s not a figure of speech.”

Ms Pevchikh said she received confirmation about the talks just one day before Mr Navalny’s death was announced.

Ukraine-Russia latest: Kremlin dismisses peace talks as ‘laughable’

She claimed that Putin “wouldn’t tolerate” Navalny being freed and decided to “get rid of the bargaining chip”. She has not offered evidence to back up the allegation.

More on Alexei Navalny

The circumstances of Mr Navalny’s death remain unclear – but several world leaders, including Joe Biden, have directly blamed Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

Mr Navalny’s widow Yulia Navalnaya has also pointed the finger at the Russian president, claiming her husband could have been poisoned with novichok.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in his death.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

Ms Pevchikh said Mr Navalny and two US citizens held in Russia, whom she has not identified, were supposed to be swapped for Vadim Krasikov.

Krasikov is serving a life sentence in Germany for the 2019 killing of Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old Georgian citizen of Chechen descent.

More from Sky News:
Unseen Navalny interview unearthed
Navalny’s mother ‘given ultimatum’ over his funeral

There are several US citizens in custody in Russia, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested on espionage charges, and Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan, convicted of espionage.

Both men and the US government dispute the charge.

When asked about the swap claim at a regular news conference in Berlin, German government spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann said she could not comment.

Continue Reading

Trending