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Why does China need to shoot down the Elon Musk Starlink satellites?

starlink logo

Elon Musk launched the Starlink satellite tv for pc web service with the purpose to broaden the attain of the web to every a part of the world. It makes use of a constellation of satellites to supply broadband-level web globally with out utilizing fiber or optical wires. Regardless of the nice trigger, the Chinese language authorities thinks the Starlink service may show to be a risk to the nation.

Why does China need to take down Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites?

A report from South China Morning Submit claims {that a} group of researchers from China has printed a paper advising the Chinese language authorities to develop anti-satellite capabilities in order that it will possibly disable Starlink if deemed essential. The analysis paper states that China must develop a surveillance system that retains monitor of and displays each Starlink satellite tv for pc.


The examine was led by Ren Yuanzhen, a analysis fellow on the Beijing Institute of Monitoring and Telecommunications. The group contained researchers from China’s protection trade as effectively, as per the report from South China Morning Submit. “A mix of soppy and onerous kill strategies needs to be adopted to make some Starlink satellites lose their capabilities and destroy the constellation’s working system, “ advises the analysis paper.

Yuanzhen says that Starlink has the flexibility to enhance the info transmission pace of the American drones and stealth fighter jets by greater than 100 occasions. He notes that each one the Starlink satellites function ion thrusters permitting them to vary orbit at a speedy charge when they’re attacked. And even when one satellite tv for pc goes down, Starlink is actually invulnerable to assaults as a result of the web constellation can operate even when particular person satellites malfunction. Yuanzhen believes that this might show to be a important asset within the occasion of warfare, and so it poses a risk to the safety of the nation.

Elon Musk in China Shanghai Supply: Pandaily

Elon Musk has loved large reputation in China because of his electrical automobiles ambition. He sees China as an enormous marketplace for Telsa. Nonetheless, his reputation and following took an enormous blow after two Starlink satellites got here dangerously near the Chinese language area station final yr. And now, China’s Protection arm believes that his satellite tv for pc web service may pose an enormous risk to the safety of the nation.

Is SpaceX actually concerned with the US Protection Division?

SpaceX signed a contract with the US Protection Division earlier this yr to construct a brand new expertise based mostly on the Starlink platform. The novel expertise would have the ability to monitor hypersonic weapons in real-time. For these unaware, hypersonic weapons can journey at as much as 5 occasions the pace of sound. A expertise that permits a Protection Division of a rustic to trace them in real-time could be a boon.

The report then provides that the unprecedented scale, complexity, and adaptability of Starlink would drive the Chinese language navy to develop new anti-satellite capabilities. Due to this fact, China wants to enhance its current area surveillance programs, the researchers stated.

leo satellites

What’s China doing about this case?

As acknowledged above, the analysis paper discusses a mixture of “delicate and onerous kill strategies” to take down the Starlink community (in case the necessity arises). Whereas it is not clear what kind of methods the Chinese language navy may use to take down the Starlink community, the nation would keep away from utilizing any missile-based method. Although a missile can simply take down a satellite tv for pc, it will result in area particles. And as we all know, area particles could cause a whole lot of issues. In our explainer concerning the LEO satellites, we wrote:

Normally, the collision of satellites (on this case, an assault of a missile on a satellite tv for pc) can result in area particles. This might flip into a sequence response, with elements of a destroyed satellite tv for pc piercing different satellites and so forth.

China would keep away from utilizing any missile-based method. Nonetheless, the report means that China has already developed a number of anti-satellite applied sciences that will allow them to maintain a examine Starlink community with out utilizing missiles. One of many measures China may take is to improve its current area surveillance expertise that may seize high-resolution pictures of Starlink satellite tv for pc launches. The nation may use ground-based laser-imaging units to determine if any navy payloads are snuck throughout SpaceX launches. As well as, Yuanzhen says that the nation “wants to observe alerts from discrete Starlink satellites to verify potential navy threats.”

As well as, China has been growing a number of anti-satellite applied sciences that use microwaves to jam communications between the satellites or can straight burn digital elements, as per Yuanzhen. The nation’s Protection Division has additionally developed lasers for blinding or damaging satellites, nano-sats that may be launched in large numbers to cripple greater satellites, and cyber weapons to hack into the satellite tv for pc communication community.

As tensions between the US and China proceed to flare up, the area is more and more changing into a spot the place the powers need dominance by any means. However in some methods, it feels inevitable.

Extra: South China Morning Submit



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