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China emerging as global space power in space exploration and mining to military space capabilities

China National Space Agency (CNSA) has accomplished some historic firsts. This includes sending astronauts to space, deploying three space stations (as part of the Tiangong program), developing heavy launch vehicles (like the Long March 5), and sending robotic explorers to the far side of the moon and Mars. Earlier  in 2021, China became the second nation in the world to successfully land a rover on the surface of Mars and the first to land a mission that consisted of an orbiter, lander and rover.  In 2019, China became the first nation to land a robotic mission on the far side of the moon (the Chang’e-4 lander and rover).


China is fast becoming a major space power as both its technology and launching frequency of satellites are improving at a rapid rate. China became the world’s fifth country to send a satellite into space in 1970. China has launched more satellites than any other country in 2020 as of Sept. 30, according to a report by Bryce Space and Technology. China has conducted the greatest number of space launches in 2018 and 2019, and last year (2020) it has already launched 36 space vehicles out of a planned 40. This puts China on track to win the space launch-rate race three years in a row. In fact, SpaceX, with 15 total launches, is second only to China’s state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which has sent 25 rockets into space, as the most active launch provider so far this year, Bryce has found.


“China possesses the most rapidly maturing space program in the world and is using its on-orbit and ground-based assets to support its national civil, economic, political, and military goals and objectives. China has invested in advanced space capabilities, with particular emphasis on satellite communication (SATCOM), intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), satellite navigation (SATNAV), and meteorology, as well as manned, unmanned, and interplanetary space exploration says Annual Report to Congress: “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2015”. In addition to its on-orbit assets, China’s space program has built a vast ground infrastructure supporting spacecraft and space launch vehicle (SLV) manufacture, launch, C2, and data downlink.


The country has initially established a complete satellite communication system that can reach 80 percent of the world. The system guarantees communication for Belt and Road countries. In addition to international cooperation on satellite launching, China has now signed 80 export agreements with 26 countries and regions.


China is hoping to achieve a “major breakthrough” in its space program by 2040 — including the development of nuclear-powered space shuttles that will allow for the mining of asteroids and “large-scale space exploration” — state-run media have reported.  China foresees itself becoming a leader in aerospace by 2045. President Xi Jinping wants China to become a global power in space exploration, with plans to send the first probe to the dark side of the moon by 2018 and to put astronauts on the moon by 2036. The Lunar Palace 365 experiment may allow them to stay there for extended periods.


China is one of the few countries in the world that has grasped high-end space technologies and built space systems. For instance, the China Academy of Space Technology holds nearly 5,000 patents, and is a global leader in satellite/spaceship recycling, thermal control, attitude and orbit control as well as electric propulsion.


China is determined to replace the U.S. as the dominant power in space. While proclaiming its peaceful intentions, Beijing’s doctrine considers space a military domain, and it is investing heavily in space infrastructure designed to secure both economic and military advantages.


China is also engaged in militarization and weaponization of space. China has become a military space power within a global context and is developing a full range of space capabilities to match the US militarily in space, while continue to invest in asymmetric technologies that pose a greater risk to the US. China is believed to have a long-term plan to become a military space power within a global context and is developing a full range of space capabilities. Commander of the PLAAF, Xu Qilang, once stated that militarization of space was imperative for the PLAAF and it must develop a capability for offensive and defensive operations in outer space.


China space roadmap to become global leader by 2040

The ambitious goal of becoming a global leader in space technology by 2045 was detailed in a report issued by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., a major contractor for the country’s space programs, in 2017.  Developing nuclear-powered space shuttles will “support large-scale exploration and development of space resources, and make mining on asteroids and space solar power plants possible,” Xinhua quoted the report as saying, without adding further details.


By 2045, with advanced space transportation capabilities, China will be able to carry out the large-scale exploration of planets, asteroids and comets in the solar system, as space exploration enters a stage of rapid development, the China News Service quoted Lu Yu, a senior rocket engineer with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., as saying

Chinese team  launch  space robots to fix orbiting satellites and mine asteroids

China’s has become one of the top countries having the capability to refuel satellites in space. The nation’s Tianyuan-1 system (launched aboard the Long March 7) has successfully topped up at least one satellite in orbit. Refuelling can extend the life of satellites, reduce their operational costs and also reduce the ever growing problem of junk.


A Chinese space mining start-up launched into low Earth orbit in April 2021 a robot prototype that can scoop up debris left behind by other spacecraft with a big net. The NEO-01, which will also peer into deep space to observe small celestial bodies, was launched on the government’s Long March 6 rocket along with a handful of satellites, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The 30kg robot developed by Shenzhen-based Origin Space will pave the way for future technologies capable of mining on asteroids, according to the company. Xinhua reported on Saturday that China was stepping up efforts to land a probe on a near-Earth asteroid to collect samples, and also expediting a plan to build a defence system against near-Earth asteroids.


The robot has two uniquely designed arms, each with seven articulated joints, to aid in its refuelling operations. One can extend and firmly grip objects while the other can inject fuel, they said. However, the benefits of the Chinese project will far exceed the costs, according to the researchers. The robot will remain in space for years and will have a tank large enough to refuel numerous satellites or spacecraft, they said. It could also be turned into a multi-purpose robot with relative ease, they said.


The refuelling nozzle carried by its right arm could easily be replaced with other tools like a torch, wrench, cutting tools or even a weapon, they added. The robot could be used to disable satellites belonging to foreign powers, remove components from them or glean other technical secrets. The team said the biggest challenge was developing precise and reliable sensors for the robot’s arms as some of functions required for tasks like docking can be problematic in zero gravity.

China plans developing reusable suborbital carrier rockets

Beijing’s rapidly improving capabilities are clear to see. On May 5, China successfully launched the Long March-5B rocket designed to eventually transport astronauts into space. This was the first successful launch of any Long March rocket this year after failed attempts to launch the Long March-3B in April and Long March-7A in March.


China will also aim to develop reusable suborbital carrier rockets by 2025 and heavy carrier rockets to support manned missions to the surface of the moon and a Mars probe that would bring back samples around 2030. By 2030, the Long March 9 rocket will be ready for use. Classified as a “heavy-lift” rocket, it’s capable of carrying over 100 tonnes (220,462 pounds), making it perfect for launching crewed missions to the Moon, and possibly unmanned missions to Mars.


It also envisions developing completely reusable carrier rockets and “future-generation intelligent carrier rockets” by around 2035, the report said. “By then, common people will be able to take reusable carrier vehicles to travel in space,” Tang Yagang, the director of carrier rocket development at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, was quoted as saying by state-run China News Service.


China’s Moon Exploration program

China has taken global lead in this moon race.  A Chinese spacecraft has become the first to land on the far side of the moon in a historic moment for human space exploration.  On January 2, 2019, the Chinese Chang’e-4 lander touched down on the far side of the moon, the first spacecraft ever to do so. Nearly ten hours later, Chang’e-4 deployed its Yutu 2 (“Jade Rabbit 2”) rover into the Von Kármán crater, part of the lunar far side’s vast. The rover has been conducting an exploration and sending the data of the moon through the relay satellite that provides a communication link with ground control.


The relay satellite, named Queqiao, meaning Magpie Bridge, after a Chinese legend, was launched on May 21, 2018, and became the first communication satellite operating in the halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the earth-moon system, nearly 500,000 km from the earth. The maximum distance between the satellite and the Chang’e-4 probe on the far side of the moon is 79,000 km. The satellite processes data from the probe and transmits it to earth, said Sun Ji, a designer of the satellite from the China Academy of Space Technology.


The satellite can stay in its orbit for a long time due to its relatively low fuel consumption, as the earth’s and moon’s gravity balances its orbital motion, said Zhang Lihua, chief designer of the satellite. While in orbit, it can “see” both the earth and the far side of the moon. From earth, the orbit looks like a halo on the moon, said Zhang. The concept of deploying a relay satellite in the halo orbit was first put forward by U.S. space experts in the 1960s, but was realized by Chinese space engineers. The satellite was deployed in order to maintain contact with the Chang’e-4. It has potential military implications because a data relay satellite set far beyond low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous orbit makes the system significantly harder to target or jam.


China’s Chang’e-5 spacecraft returned Moon samples to Earth in 2020 hoped to be the youngest returned to Earth: just 1.2 billion years old.
The samples will help scientists understand what was happening late in the Moon’s history, as well as how Earth and the solar system evolved. Chang’e-5 is now on an extended mission to test technologies at a location where Earth and the Sun’s gravity balance in a way that spacecraft can remain stable for long periods of time.


The mission is to obtain experimental data and validate re-entry technologies such as guidance, navigation and control, heat shield and trajectory design for a future touch-down on the moon by Chang’e-5, which is expected to be sent to the moon, collect samples and return to Earth in 2017,” iCrossChina reported. This launch shall also test “skip re-entry”, technique that uses one or more atmospheric dips to slow the vehicle and avoid the most extreme temperatures generated by atmospheric friction. This technique requires precise flight control and alignment. These technologies shall enable future Chang’e-5 mission that involves putting a large lander on the moons capable of collecting up to 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) of lunar samples and returning them to the Earth.


These launches are part of Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) also known as the Chang’e program, is an ongoing series of robotic Moon missions by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). The program incorporates lunar orbiters, landers, rovers and sample return spacecraft, launched using Long March rockets.  Through these missions, Chinese researchers plan to master many key technologies that could give it strategic advantages, including autonomous navigation and high-speed communication systems for deep space, as well as fuel cells and atomic generators to power the spacecraft.


China’s growing space ambitions are targeted towards future economic development and strategic advantage. Ouyang Ziyuan, a prominent Chinese geologist and chemical cosmologist, was among the first to advocate the exploitation not only of known lunar reserves of metals such as titanium, but also of helium-3, an ideal fuel for future nuclear fusion power plants.



Military space power

A Sep 2020  study by the U.S. Air Force’s university think tank confirms the widely held view that China’s anti-satellite weapons pose a national security threat to the United States. “The two countries are in a long term competition in which China is attempting to become a global power, and part of this effort is being played out in space,” the study says.


The United States views China as a military rival in space with a growing array of anti-satellite weapons. The report casts this issue in a broader perspective, noting that the rise of China’s space program poses a combination of military, economic and political challenges to the United States,. Although national security is China’s primary motivation for its space program, the report says, perhaps a bigger concern for the United States will be China’s diplomatic push to win over allies and challenge U.S. leadership in space.


Chinese analysts, according to the report, see the U.S. commercial space sector — and especially SpaceX — as role models that Chinese companies should emulate. China views the U.S. commercial space industry as a major advantage for the United States. A key advantage Chinese authors see in SpaceX is the company’s capability for in-house manufacturing — unlike the traditional space industry model of outsourcing the engines, electronic components, navigation systems and ground support equipment, says the study. Chinese analysts argue that although SpaceX’s in-house approach appears to run counter to the modern trend of company specialization, it is in fact critical for keeping costs down.


China’s Long March  launcher series

A new Chinese launch vehicle, the Long March 8,  successfully placed five payloads into orbit on its first mission in Dec 2020, debuting an expendable booster intended to eventually be outfitted for recovery and reuse. The medium-lift launcher is the latest in a series of new additions to the Long March rocket family, following the introduction of the Long March 5, Long March 6, and Long March 7 vehicles in recent years.


The Long March 8 is designed to carry a payload of about 9,900 pounds (4.5 metric tons) to a 435-mile-high (700-kilometer) polar sun-synchronous orbit, placing its lift capability between that of the smaller Long March 6 and the more powerful Long March 7. The new rocket fills a gap in Chinese launch capacity between 3 and 4.5 metric tons to sun-synchronous orbit, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., or CASC, the primary state-owned contractor for the country’s space program.


The Long March 5 rocket is China’s new heavy-lifter, and the most powerful launcher in the history of the Chinese space program. The new Long March rockets use non-toxic propellants, with kerosene- and hydrogen-fueled engines to replace the older hydrazine-burning engines used on Long March 2, Long March 3, and Long March 4 rockets.


The Long March 7 rocket is expected to become a workhorse in China’s future space endeavors as it is suitable for a number of different applications – launching heavy craft up to 13,500 Kilograms into Low Earth Orbit and lifting medium-sized communications satellites up to 595 metric tons into Geostationary Transfer Orbit.


Long March 7 rocket also carried the Roaming Dragon satellite into space, officially, a space-junk collector. Its job, according to Beijing, is to pluck old spacecraft and large pieces of junk out of high-traffic orbits and safely plunge them back to the planet’s surface. “China, as a responsible big country, has committed to the control and reduction of space debris,” Tang Yagang, a scientist with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, wrote on the Chinese space agency’s website.


However, Roaming Dragon’s highly extendable and maneuvering robotic arm can also perform nefarious activities like dismantling or deorbiting satellites of other countries. “Space robotic arms, like many other space technologies, have both military and non-military applications, and classifying them as a space weapon depends on the intent of the user, not on the inherent capabilities of the technology,” Kevin Pollpeter, deputy director of the Study of Innovation and Technology in China Project at the University of California, San Diego,


China tested hypersonic technologies in Long March 7 flight

It is envisioned that CZ-7 will become the primary launch vehicle to lift cargo craft into orbit to resupply China’s upcoming modular space station and eventually take over the crewed space program once the next-generation crewed spacecraft is ready for flight. A common element of all three new launchers is the YF-100 engine, switching from toxic propellants to Kerosene & Liquid Oxygen – a mix providing a higher performance while being friendlier to the environment. The light-lift Long March 6 debuted last year, CZ-7 flying for the first time and Long March 5 set for launch later in 2016 cover the entire spectrum of launch needs foreseen in the future – from crewed Low Earth Orbit missions, satellite launches into Sun Synchronous and Geostationary Transfer Orbits, and missions beyond the bounds of Earth’s gravity.


Only very little is known about the payloads of the first Long March 7 flight. Hidden under the vehicle’s fairing was a scaled-down version of China’s future crewed spacecraft, a ballast mast and at least three small satellites including The Star of Aoxiang, a 33-Kilogram CubeSat-class satellite.


The so-called re-entry capsule looks similar to China’s hypersonic glide vehicle DF-ZF,” said Antony Wong Dong Macau-based military observer, “The colour of the capsule also indicated the use of a new, heat-resistant coating for a hypersonic vehicle.” The researchers said that apart from gains in coating technology, the capsule’s test run confirmed advances in reusable spacecraft, in-flight systems to gather thermal and aerodynamic data, and communications during re-entry.


Chinese DF-ZF (previously designated as the WU-14) is a hypersonic missile delivery vehicle that has been flight-tested by the Chinese seven times, on 9 January, 7 August and 2 December 2014; 7 June and 27 November 2015; and again in April 2016.  The strategic strike weapon is extremely advanced and can travel at 10 times the speed of sound, or 12,231.01kph. Also, American defense officials said the vehicle, which speeds along the edge of the earth’s atmosphere, demonstrated a new capability during the latest test: that it was able to take evasive actions.


DF-ZF could be used for nuclear weapons delivery but could also be used to perform precision-strike conventional missions (for example, next-generation anti-ship ballistic missiles), which could penetrate “the layered air defenses of a U.S. carrier strike group. Once operational, these missiles would make current strategic missile defenses systems obsolete, they will be able to avoid triggering early-warning systems or detection by radar as well their speed shall complicate interception. Wong said that overall, the launch suggested China’s ballistic missile technology was entering a new stage that aided the development of the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile and the “carrier-killer” DF-21D, which could threaten US military installations on Guam.


China plans to launch rockets into space from massive freighters and planes

Starting next year, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) will use 10,000-ton freighters as ocean-going launchpads for its Long March 11 launch rocket. The Long March 11 can carry up to 1,100 pounds into low-earth orbit. The plan is to bring the freighters to the equator, so the rockets require less fuel and can accommodate larger payloads. Another alternative is from the air. The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology announced that they’re developing a solid-fueled space launch rocket to be dropped from the Y-20. The rocket itself is expected to weigh about 60 tons (the Y-20’s payload is 66 tons) and has a low Earth orbit payload of 220 pounds.

If you’re dropping a rocket from an airplane, as opposed to the launching from ground, the rocket’s first stage can be smaller, which means it’ll be more efficient and could handle a larger payload. That means greater flexibility and a potentially quicker launch—both considerable military advantages


Space Station for Military use

China in April 2021 launched the core module of its space station, kicking off a series of key launch missions that aim to complete the construction of the station by the end of next year. The Chinese space station will consist of three modules, with Tianhe being the first section, to be followed by the launch of the other two modules in the near future.


The Tianhe module will act as the management and control hub of the space station Tiangong, meaning Heavenly Palace, with a node that could dock with up to three spacecraft at a time for short stays, or two for long, Bai Linhou, deputy chief designer of the space station at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) said, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.


The station is due for completion around 2022. Weighing 66 tonnes, the space station will comprise a core module and two lab capsules. The propulsion system will determine whether lab capsules can move in space. Engineers designed 36 engines for the propulsion system with four to adjust the capsules’ operation orbit and 32 to adjust flight attitude. Each engine is designed to work for at least 15 years, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the main manufacturer of the space station. The engines worked well and passed tests in Shanghai, said the CASC.


The station will operate in the low-Earth orbit at an altitude from 340 km to 450 km. It has a designed lifespan of 10 years, but experts believe it could last more than 15 years with appropriate maintenance and repairs. “We will learn how to assemble, operate and maintain large spacecraft in orbit, and we aim to build Tiangong into a state-level space lab supporting the long stay of astronauts and large-scale scientific, technological and application experiments,” said Bai.


Quoting CASC, it said the module, “the largest, heaviest and most complicated spacecraft that China has developed to date, will provide astronauts a living and working space of approximately 50 cubic meters. This space will increase to some 110 cubic meters once the other two experiment modules are in place.”


As earlier announced by China National Space Administration, the space station will be used to conduct experiments, some of which include materials science research, work with ultracold atoms to research quantum mechanics, and experiments on medicine in microgravity. “Another purpose for building the space station is to accumulate experiences for future deep-space missions, including those to the Moon. The renewable life support system to be tested in space will further explore the possibility of growing grain and vegetables, eventually realizing a self-sufficient cycle on the Moon,” Global Times quoted Bo Linhou, vice chief designer of Tianhe core module as saying.


“The station is  expected to contribute to the peaceful development and utilisation of space resources through international cooperation, as well as to enrich technologies and experience for China”s future explorations into deeper space,” Bai said. The Chinese space station was expected to be a competitor to the aging International Space Station (ISS) which is a modular space station in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies which included NASA, (US), Roscomos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).


Like all China’s space programs being dual-use programs, there is potential that the Chinese Military had already planned the military use of Space Station. The scientific payloads and experiments could be replaced with military payloads and testing, from defensive use of collecting intelligence about adversary space activities to offensive use stationing counterpace weapons.


‘Deep space station’ that is being built in the Patagonia region could have more focus on military than space exploration. Rick Fisher, International Assessment and Strategy Center, who is a Senior Fellow on Asian Military Affairs, suggested that It is formed of modules that can be put together, taken apart, and replaced. One module, dedicated to experiments, can be replaced with another module, full of laser weapons or warheads to bomb the earth.” “I expect that as China’s space program is controlled by the People’s Liberation Army, which has sought as much dual-use benefit from both the manned and unmanned space programs of the space station, as well as future moon bases, will all feature dual-use elements, meaning military elements,” Fisher added.   But officials in China have said the facility would be ‘totally civilian, and it is not operated by military personnel.’


China unveils its plan to build a spaceship that’s kilometers long in Sep 2021

Looking ahead to the next decade and beyond, China is planning on taking even bolder steps to develop its space program. Among the many proposals the country’s leaders are considering for its latest five-year plan, one involved creating an “ultra-large spacecraft spanning kilometers.” Having this spacecraft in low Earth orbit (LEO) would be a game-changer for China, allowing for long-duration missions and the use of space resources.


This ambitious proposal was one of ten submitted by The National Natural Science Foundation of China at a meeting in Beijing earlier this month. Each of these projects has been awarded $2.3 million (the equivalent of ¥15 million) in funding to further research and development. One of the project’s main goals will reportedly be to find ways to keep the spacecraft’s mass down while ensuring they are structurally sound enough to launch to orbit.


According to the project outline published by the Chinese foundation and cited by the South China Daily Mail (SCDM), the spacecraft elements will be built on Earth and then launched individually to orbit to be assembled in space. The same outline specifies that this spacecraft will be “a major strategic aerospace equipment for the future use of space resources, exploration of the mysteries of the universe and staying in long-term.”


Given the specifications cited in the document, there is a great deal of skepticism about this proposal. For starters, it would take a ridiculous number of launches to deploy all of the necessary elements to space. For comparison, the International Space Station (ISS) is the largest artificial structure ever assembled in orbit. Yet, it took dozens of launches and many years to assemble and at considerable cost to all its participants.


During China’s sixth annual “National Space Day,” there were indications that the country is interested in pursuing a Starship-like spacecraft and spaceplanes. And more recently, China announced plans to conduct crewed missions to Mars by 2033 as part of a long-term plan to build a permanent base there, thus superseding NASA’s plan to send astronauts there in the next decade).


Chinese Counterspace strategy

China continues to develop a variety of capabilities designed to limit or prevent the use of spacebased assets by adversaries during a crisis or conflict, including the development of directed-energy weapons and satellite jammers. “As China’s developmental counterspace capabilities become operational, China will be able to hold at risk U.S. national security satellites in every orbital regime,” says 2015 Report to Congress.


PLA writings emphasize the necessity of “destroying, damaging, and interfering with the enemy’s reconnaissance … and communications satellites,” suggesting that such systems, as well as navigation and early warning satellites, could be among the targets of attacks designed to “blind and deafen the enemy.” PLA analysis of U.S. and coalition military operations also states that “destroying or capturing satellites and other sensors … will deprive an opponent of initiative on the battlefield and [make it difficult] for them to bring their precision guided weapons into full play.” China’s continued development of destructive space technologies represented a threat to all peaceful space-faring nations,” according to the report.


Space plane is being developed as space weapons launch platform

A Chinese military expert disclosed that a Chinese space plane known as the Shenlong will likely be deployed with the newly formed Strategic Support Force, the PLA’s new high-technology warfare unit. A Jan. 8 report in Hong Kong’s Tung Fang Jih Pao quotes official military commentator Song Zhongping as saying the Strategic Support Force will be made up of an Internet Army, an Aerospace Army and Electronic Warfare Troops.

Song went on to say that the new force would be equipped in the future with the Shenlong space plane that is capable of traveling in both space and air. The plane is said to be China’s version of the Pentagon’s experimental X-37B space plane. According to Song, the unmanned Shenlong is being developed as space weapons launch platform, as well as for surveillance, intelligence and early-warning missions.

The Shenlong – Divine Dragon – employs high speed with maneuverability and radar-evading stealth features. It will be capable of long-range flight. Shenlong (神龙/Divine Dragon) spaceplane’s  test flight has been completed on 8 January 2011, according to Chinese-language media outlets.


Growing China’s Military space capabilities

China continues to develop a variety of capabilities designed to limit or prevent the use of spacebased assets by adversaries during a crisis or conflict, including the development of directed-energy weapons and satellite jammers. “As China’s developmental counterspace capabilities become operational, China will be able to hold at risk U.S. national security satellites in every orbital regime,” says 2015 Report to Congress.


China has conducted a flight test of a new anti-satellite missile, the Washington Free Beacon reports. The test of a so-called Dong Neng-3 missile occurred on October 30 2015 at the Korla Missile Test Complex in western China. According to the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao the “final-phase missile interception test had been conducted in the upper atmosphere.” However, in the past, China has repeatedly tried to disguise anti-satellite tests as missile defense interceptor tests. Since 2005, China has conducted eight anti-satellite tests. Tests conducted in 2010, 2013, and 2014 were labelled “land-based missile interception tests.”


“On July 23, 2014, China conducted a space launch that had a similar profile to the January 2007 test that resulted in the deliberate destruction of a defunct weather satellite, and the creation of hundreds of pieces of long lived space debris. Much of that debris continues to orbit the Earth where it poses a risk to the safe operation of many nations’ satellites. China’s 2014 launch did not result in the destruction of a satellite or space debris.”


On May 13, 2013, China launched ballistic missile (DN-2) on a ballistic trajectory with a peak altitude above 30,000 km. This trajectory took it near geosynchronous orbit, where many nations maintain communications and earth sensing satellites. It could, however, have been a test of technologies with a counterspace mission in geosynchronous orbit.


For space-based weapons, China reportedly is developing co-orbital anti-satellite weapons, which move close to satellite targets and then deploy weapons to disable or destroy them. According to the final report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the Chinese simulated such an attack in 2008 when it sent a miniature imaging satellite within 28 miles of the International Space Station without notification. China believes demonstrating its capability to damage or destroy satellites deters adversaries, the report states.


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