China may launch 13,000 satellites to “counter” spy on Starlink

What happened? China has expressed its displeasure for Space X’s Starlink satellite service on several previous occasions. According to new reports, the country is planning to launch a rival service to provide global internet, “suppress” Elon Musk’s network, and carry out anti-Starlink missions.

The South China Morning Post reports that researchers say China plans to build a large satellite network, codenamed GW, in near-Earth orbit. According to a team led by associate professor Xu Can of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Space Engineering University in Beijing, the plan for GW involves deploying 12,992 satellites, owned by the newly established China Satellite Network Group Co. Xu and his team revealed the details in a paper about the anti-Starlink measures published in the Chinese journal Command Control and Simulation.

There are currently over 3,000 Starlink satellites in low earth orbit. SpaceX plans to have more than 12,000 by 2027 and eventually reach 40,000. There is no mention of when China’s satellites will be launched, although Xu and his team wrote that GW is likely to be deployed “before Starlink is completed,” thereby ensuring that “our country has a place in low orbit and prevent the Starlink constellation from overloading. primarily low-orbit resources.”

The researchers say that the satellites can be placed in orbits that Starlink has not yet reached, explaining that they “gain opportunities and advantages at other orbital altitudes, and even suppress Starlink.”

Of particular concern is the mention of Chinese satellites carrying anti-Starlink payloads for missions such as “close, long-term surveillance of Starlink satellites.”

Ren Yuanzhen, a researcher at the Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications, last year wrote that China should develop hard and soft kill methods for destroying Starlink satellites, which he suggested has applications. in the military that includes allowing drones and stealth fighter jets to increase their data. transmission speed of more than 100 times. Ren’s paper also claims that satellites could offer online connectivity to troops in the field, capture high-value targets in space with their ion thrusters, and carry military payloads.

The latest paper also warns of potential military applications of Starlink. “Starlink satellites can use their orbital maneuvering to actively engage and destroy nearby targets in space,” it read.

The researchers added that China plans to use new technology in radars that can better track and identify Starlink satellites. It also suggested the Chinese government cooperate with other countries to form an anti-Starlink coalition and demanded that SpaceX publish accurate data on the Starlink satellite’s orbit.

Although China is concerned about Starlink being weaponized, the company recently limited Ukraine’s ability to use its satellites for military offensive purposes. The move follows reports that the country’s military is using Starlink to control drones. Starlink says the service can be used for military communications, but it is not intended for offensive purposes.

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