The head of the US Space Force has said space is now "a warfighting domain", warning Russia and China are two of the biggest threats.
Chief of Space Operations, General John W. "Jay" Raymond, made the comments during an online discussion about the importance of the service.
Gen Raymond said "it is clear today that space is a warfighting domain just like air, land and sea," adding he "couldn't have said that five or six years ago".
He said: "We didn't want space to become a warfighting domain and we still frankly don't today, but adversaries have evolved."
Gen Raymond explained how Russia and China are "developing capabilities" of their own.
He warned whilst the countries are seeking to "have the same advantage that we [the US] have enjoyed over the last decades", they are also "developing a pretty significant set of threats that would threaten our ability to access our space capabilities".
Gen Raymond also discussed the close relationship between the service and their allied partners.
He said: "We share data broadly with our partners. Our operations centres are connected together.
"Today, and more so in the future, we want to share programmes."
Gen Raymond also refused to rule out the possibility of military personnel deploying to space, saying: "I really believe there is going to be a role for enhanced security in that domain.
"I don't think it's [going to happen] tomorrow, but I wouldn't rule it out."
What is the US Space Force?
The Space Force, the US's first new military service in more than 70 years, was formally established in December 2019 at a signing ceremony at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington.
In April, the Space Force received its first group of commissioned personnel into the service.
Eighty-six people graduated from the United States Air Force Academy, moving straight into the Space Force.
There are a total of 16,000 airmen and civilians that are assigned to the Space Force, but who technically remain part of the Air Force, which previously oversaw offensive operations in space.
The first member of the force transferred in was Gen John W. Raymond, who was sworn in as the first-ever Chief of Space Operations in January.
Cover image: Gen Raymond at Peterson Air Force Base last week (Picture: US Department of Defense).