Fearing that SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, which provide high-speed space internet, could pose a threat to China’s national interests, military researchers are calling for preparations to deactivate or even destroy the massive constellation of vehicles.
In research work, published in China This week, lead author Ren Yuanzhen of the Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications argues that the country’s armed forces should develop ways to counter the Starlink threat. The work was available a few days after publication, but was recently hidden, but the English version is still available. find here.
The paper describes a combination of “soft” and “hard” methods to disable Starlink satellites and destroy the constellation’s operating system. The reason is that these vehicles pose a hidden danger and challenge to China. Moreover, the researchers even claim that Starlink can be used as an offensive weapon against Chinese spacecraft and ships.
Now SpaceX has launched about 2,300 Starlink satellites, but this is only a small fraction of the plans – in total, the company intends to place 42,000 devices. To destroy even a few hundred satellites, China will have to arrange a real massacre in orbit, which will form a giant cloud of debris that can deprive people of the ability to fly into space.
Last year, two Starlink satellites nearly crashed into China’s Tianhe space station, necessitating an orbital adjustment. In addition, the authors of the work cite as an example how Starlink can work with the US military. The Chinese military has previously expressed concern that SapceX is using Starlink to help Ukraine against a Russian invasion. In March of this year, Starlink began providing stations after military operations destroyed and damaged internet connections.
Meanwhile, the US military is already preparing to launch 300 to 500 mini-satellites capable of communicating with each other using lasers. They are planned to be used to support military operations, in particular unmanned aerial vehicles and drones. And China is also developing plans to launch its own mega constellation of internet satellites.