Launch of Shijian-21
And the aftershocks of these tests still rock the Pentagon and the White House, fueled by fears of a new arms race. US Senator Angus King described the new weapon as a “game changer with the potential to undermine strategic stability.”
Chinese officials simply said their test was “a peaceful space experiment.”
Adding fuel to the fire, China this week continued to widen the technological gap by launching a new satellite that analysts say could be used as a weapon, with the ability to capture and crush destroyed American satellites, The Washington Post reported.
The Shijian-21 satellite (Actual-21) is mounted on a rocket at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, with the stated purpose of cleaning up “space debris”; According to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The company claims that the satellite “is tasked with demonstrating technology to neutralize and clean up space debris.”
The launch took place at 9:27 a.m. Beijing time on October 17, marking China’s 39th satellite launch this year. The satellite was pushed into orbit by a Long March-3B rocket.
US military tracking data shows that Shijian-21 has been placed into an elliptical geostationary orbit about 35,813 km from Earth, with an inclination of about 28.5 degrees relative to the equator. Shijian-21 will orbit the Earth every 24 hours, traveling at the same speed as our planet. In April this year, the head of US Space Command, General James Dickinson, told Congress that satellites like the Shijian-21 were part of an effort to achieve “space supremacy through systems.” China’s space attack. “One notable object is Shijian-17, a Chinese robotic arm satellite,” said Dickinson. “Space robotic arm technology could be applied to a future system for capturing other satellites.”
According to the Chinese side, the Shijian-17 is used for communication and space debris control purposes. It is said to be capable of moving close to satellites in orbit and capturing or crushing them. General Dickinson said that the Shijian-17 is a spaceship equipped with a robotic arm, and a weapon of the Chinese military. Concerns about ‘robot arms’
The Shijian series satellites first appeared in 2013, when the three satellites were launched and US intelligence detected their unusual movements.
The satellites Shijian-7, Chuangxin-3 and Shijian-15 all weigh less than 10 kg. And of these satellites, the most unusual is Shijian-15, according to US officials. Like in an intelligence movie, this satellite is equipped with a robotic arm and at the end of this arm is something like a pincer.
The space weapons that China possesses include a number of ground-launched anti-satellite missiles, capable of hitting satellites operating in low, medium and high orbit; There are also electronic interceptors and laser weapons.
“We can see their strength, from their ability to destroy satellites to the operations they’ve done with that capability,” Dickinson said. “Meanwhile, China continues to chant. moat against the weaponization of space.”
Michael J. Listner, a space security analyst, says that identifying China’s power is difficult due to the dual-purpose nature of space technology – both military uses, both for civilian purposes.
“Technology for peaceful uses can also be used for non-peaceful purposes,” said Listner. satellite.”
China says “trust us”, but the true nature behind that space mission and China’s development of offensive capabilities in space say the opposite; according to Mr. Listner. Secure World has been monitoring Chinese satellites and their missions. The organization realized that the Shijian-17 demonstrated its versatility by circling the geostationary belt, circling the Zhongxing-5A satellite (ChinaSat-5A) and then approaching Zhongxing-6B and Shijian- 20 – launched in December 2019.
Retired Indian general, Vinayak Bhat, a former intelligence image analyst, made similar comments. He said the Shijian-21 launch was highly suspicious because China had never been interested in space debris cleanup before, but only continuously launched large rockets and increased debris.
“This robotic arm technology clearly has many uses, and will certainly be used as a space weapon to capture, disable or destroy enemy satellites,” he said. “China is deploying such dual-purpose satellites, which clearly shows their intention to militarize space,” Bhat said.
It is estimated that there are more than 100 million pieces of space debris in orbit, ranging in size from a few centimeters to giant pieces weighing up to several tons. About 50% of this space waste is the result of space ships being dismantled; Liu Jing, deputy director of the China Center for Space Applications and Debris Control, said.
Mr. Liu did not mention the information published in the China Daily about an anti-satellite missile test that China carried out in 2007, leaving tens of thousands of dangerous pieces of debris floating in space.
Since the 2007 test, which drew strong international condemnation, China has not conducted further anti-satellite missile tests, but instead concealed its space attack capabilities with shells. anti-missile test cover or civilian research.