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Special Note: Please note that this scenario is meant to be read as entertainment, not as an accurate prediction of the future. Also note that the viewpoints and opinions that may come across in this scenario are not necessarily the viewpoints and opinions of the author.
Suborbital weapons are weapons used from outer space and will be perfected around the year 2019 (and still fired by computer-savvy computer beings even after the First Galactic War).
They can strike into military and civilian buildings with 99% of the strength of a typical intercontinental ballistic missile. However, there is no radiation used, and victims can start rebuilding after the war is over. Warmongers will stockpile these weapons, and the most prolific users will be Canadamerica (Canada and the United States combined with some overseas protectorates and territories), the People's Republic of China, the United States of Europe, India, and the Eurasian Union.
Suborbital troop transports will quickly become orbital debris clouds shortly after someone develops an anti-suborbital troop transport missile.
No active offensive or defensive hardware between LEO and GEO. It's hard enough to keep track of all the junk up there already without adding a few trillion more fragments from military engagements. The fastest way to deny ourselves access to space for the next 500 years is to militarize lower orbits.
Suborbital weapons are cheaper than conventional bombs because they don't need airplanes or missile silos to deliver their payload. And everyone knows that airplanes waste a lot of fossil fuels and missile silos require lots of electricity to govern (that has to be drawn from the civilian electric grid). The payload is already in outer space, waiting for a military general or a political leader to push a virtual "red button" that every general in the Armed Forces will have on their laptop computers.
The 2028 film, James Bond Escapes from the Nursing Home features a villain (played by legendary movie star Ella S. Gordon) who wants to rule the world using a suborbital weapon. However, because this will be the final James Bond film (both the villain and James Bond die in a battle using karate, kung-fu, and old-fashioned gun play). However, a female version will be released to be public in 2029; claiming to be James Bond's great-niece (and James Bond, Jr.'s daughter). The film was eventually released on holographic DVD and holographic Blue Ray. The James Bond license is released in the public domain 6 months after the theatric release of the final film.
These weapon systems are operated almost exclusively by cloud computing and can be operated from almost anywhere in the world; even where CheapNet is the only affordable Internet access for the government. While briefly affected by the year 2038 bug, one million jobs were created overnight to make suborbital weapons "year 2038 compliant."
The technology to put a manned spacecraft into orbit can easily be utilized in building orbiting or suborbital weapons of mass destruction. Private citizens don’t have a need for suborbital weapons. It doesn’t take a rocket to kill a deer.
Should we laugh this off as a stunt? No. China's willingness to spend so much money, manpower and material on this project suggests that China sees this as far more than a single headline-grabbing gimmick to gain international respect and domestic pride. Rather, it is likely to be the first of a series of launches to bring Chinese astronauts first into Earth orbit, and then possibly to journey to the moon, Mars and beyond.
Rather, why not applaud the Chinese success, let them have their celebration and enjoy their newfound achievement and reach out to them as partners in the peaceful exploration of space?
Why not invite China to share the cost, and the credit, for building the space station? Why not let Chinese scientists develop on-board experiments? Why not offer to let some Chinese astronauts ride on a space shuttle mission, do some space-walking zero-gravity construction work, and be part of an international crew aboard a space station named Freedom?
That would be so much better than re-entering a new Space Race or ratcheting up a new Cold War.