China to launch 13,000 satellites to challenge Starlink: Reports
The China Satellite Network Group says it intends to launch 12,992 satellites into orbit as soon as possible.
Chinese media reported on Friday that China is considering developing its own low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation of internet satellites to challenge Starlink's dominance in the field.
The report indicated that the China Satellite Network Group intends to launch 12,992 satellites into orbit as soon as possible, as per a recent article published in the Chinese journal Command Control and Simulation.
Led by Xu Can, an associate professor at Beijing's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Space Engineering University, the group hopes to accomplish its plans "before the completion of Starlink," he indicated.
This will "guarantee that our country has a presence in low orbit and prevent the Starlink constellation from overly pre-empting low-orbit resources," according to the journal article written by Xu's team.
SpaceX, which operates the Starlink service, now has over 3,000 satellites in orbit. It intends to have 12,000 spacecraft by 2027, but it has ambitions for up to 30,000 satellites.
China Satellite Network Group researchers warn that the Starlink constellation poses a threat to other countries' satellites since the Pentagon, with which SpaceX contracts, can direct the company to have its satellites "actively hit and destroy nearby targets in space."
The Chinese researchers proposed that Beijing work with other governments to put pressure on SpaceX to publish accurate data on every Starlink satellite, including orbital data, and that they develop sophisticated radar systems capable of tracking Starlink satellites, which orbit about 342 miles above the Earth.
They added that in the future, directed-energy weapons such as lasers or high-powered microwaves may be used to disrupt Starlink satellites if necessary.
Chinese scientists have raised concerns about the dangers that hundreds of Starlink satellites already pose in space. A paper published in the Chinese peer-reviewed journal Radio Engineering last November accused SpaceX of habitually violating highly acknowledged but informal "rules of the road" in orbit and suggested the adoption of a more formal framework for space safety.
The Chinese space station Tiangong has had to change course several times in recent years to avoid colliding with a Starlink satellite.
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