China and the United States are still fighting a major “war” that many do not talk about. This “war” is now happening mainly in the fields of trade and technology. China and the United States have had serious trade issues that they are still struggling to address. In terms of technology, many Chinese companies can be involved in the construction of US 5G. In fact, the US has blacklisted many Chinese companies, with Huawei and ZTE being the most notable. In all of this, the United States is basing its efforts on protecting “national security.” It seems that China will now play the role of “national security”. Unfortunately, Elon Musk’s Starlink is in the center. According to recent reports, Chinese military investigators are calling for a “hard kill” weapon. They need these weapons to shut down the Starlink satellite system if it threatens China’s national security.
According to researchers, Starlink has “huge potential for military applications.” Thus, they are countermeasures for monitoring or destroying the growing satellite constellation. The original manuscript is in Chinese. However, you can get a translated copy of the paper published in China’s Modern Defense Technology magazine here.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is responsible for Starlink, a broadband satellite Internet network. Provides Internet access to users regardless of their location (anywhere in the world). However, to use the Starlink network, the user will need access to a Starlink satellite dish. Back in 2019, the company launched its first satellites. Since then, it now has at least 2300 satellites at lowEarth orbit around the world. However, the company plans to form a huge constellation with at least 42,000 satellites. China does not like this and will try to stop it.
Starlink military force
In particular, researchers have concerns about the military capability of this constellation. According to them, the US will eventually monitor supersonic missiles with this system. It will also enhance US military capability and the transfer speeds of US drones and fighter jets. In addition, this constellation could pose a threat to Chinese satellites.
Last year, China wrote to the UN complain that Starlink satellites are an obstacle. China had to perform complex maneuvers to avoid “close encounters” with Starlink satellites last year.
Led by Ren Yuanzen, a researcher at the Beijing Institute of Surveillance and Telecommunications, he said: “A combination of soft and hard killing methods should be adopted to make some Starlink satellites lose their function and destroy the star’s operating system.” These are two different types of space weapons. Hard kill will be more immediate, of course destroying satellites with rockets. Soft kill is less immediate and more subtle, involving the use of interceptors and lasers.
Below are some methods that China already has for disabling satellites
- Microwave jams: May disrupt communication or fry electrical components
- Powerful millimeter resolution lasers: They can blind satellites using high resolution images
- Cyber-weapons: Direct intrusion into satellite networks
- Long-range anti-satellite missiles (ASAT) for destruction
However, researchers have no confidence in the above methods. They claim that the methods are effective only against individual satellites. However, they will have little or no effect on the Starlink system.
“The Starlink constellation is a decentralized system. “The controversy is not about individual satellites, but the entire system,” the researchers wrote. They are “low cost and high efficiency measures” for attacking the Starlink system. However, they did not specify the measures.
In addition to crashing the Starlink satellite system, research suggests that China has its own spy satellite system. Whether this will include the development of lasers, microwave weapons or smaller satellites to deal with the Starlink satellite remains to be seen. In addition, China wants to compete directly with Starlink. It will launch Xing Wang (or Starnet), a satellite system like Starlink. A system like Starlink will provide Internet access to users worldwide. However, you can be sure that the US and its allies will not allow this system.
Starlinks and military engagement
We can all imagine why China is worried about Starlink’s military relations. Recall that just two days after the start of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Mykhailo Fedorov, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine wrote on Twitter asking Musk to develop more Starlink satellites in Ukraine. So far, SpaceX has deployed more than 12,000 Starlink satellite dishes in Ukraine. Further, “all infrastructure is vital [in Ukraine] uses Starlink. “
Dmitry Rogozin, director of Roscosmos, director of the Russian space agency, claims that Elon Musk will be held accountable. He claims that Musk is supplying “Azov Nazi fighters” with “military communication equipment”. According Musk, several attempts have been made to block Starlink signals from Russia. Elon too was posted on Twitter, “If I die under mysterious circumstances, it’s nice to know you.”
A direct rocket attack on the Starlink satellite will not be ideal for China. This is due to the risks involved. Immediate rocket attacks will create dangerous conditions for all nations operating in space, including China. In addition, space explosions are very dangerous because of the debris (thousands of them) that could fall anywhere. A single piece of debris could be as big as a basketball and could also be as small as a grain of sand.
The downing of satellites is very complicated
All the explosions in space have had very negative ripple effects and no one wants that, not even the US Certainly not China or even Russia. According to reports, all space explosion tests from the US, China, India and Russia have created space debris. Subsequently, some of these countries had to ban such tests. However, a few months ago, Chinese scientists claim there is a way to avoid the problem of debris. Their method claims to have a pattern of retaining debris by packing the explosive device in a satellite exhaust nozzle. Thus, China claims that it can blow up the satellite without creating chaos with the wreckage.
This is supported by a report of the US Department of Defense China’s satellite technology has doubled since 2019. While the US has 2944 satellites (2300 are Starlink), China is the second largest in the world with 499. Although China is still far behind the US in terms of satellites, the US will not like the speed of Chinese growth.