July 31, 2014

Beijing tests anti-satellite missile - Voice of Russia

Staff conducting a test at the China Satellite Launch and Tracking Control General, the organization that directly controls and oversees all of the country's space missions and space launch centers. 

China has taken another step towards challenging US supremacy in the space race after successfully testing a "non-destructive" anti-satellite missile on July 23, reports the Chinese-language website of the Voice of Russia, the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service.

According to China's official Xinhua news agency, the country's Ministry of National Defense announced a successful missile intercept test that "achieved the preset goal," which sources from the US State Department confirmed with "high confidence" was an anti-satellite missile that aims to destroy targets through impact and does not cause an explosion.

"We call on China to refrain from destabilizing actions–such as the continued development and testing of destructive anti-satellite systems–that threaten the long term security and sustainability of the outer space environment, on which all nations depend," the US State Department said in a July 25 email to SpaceNews. "The United States continuously looks to ensure its space systems are safe and resilient against emerging space threats."

Since taking office last year, Chinese president Xi Jinping has reportedly asked his nation's air force to hasten its integration of air and space capabilities. During a visit to PLA Air Force headquarters in April, Xi promised the development of a "new-type combat force" that can deal with air and space emergencies "swiftly and effectively."Last week's anti-satellite missile test was the second in Xi's term, having already launched a Chinese rocket as part of a test of an anti-satellite system in May last year. In January 2007, China deliberately destroyed one of its defunct weather satellites using a ground-based, medium-range ballistic missile, an act that was widely condemned by the international community as it left a cloud of potentially hazardous debris in a heavily used belt of Earth's orbit.

Vladimir Evseev, director of the Centre for Social Political Studies in Moscow, said he has not ruled out the possibility that China's anti-satellite test used wireless electronics or lasers, which experts say is the most effective way to disable a satellite.China is developing various weapons that can destroy or blind satellites in a variety of ways, including micro-satellites, satellites that can surround enemy satellites, Evseev said, adding that Beijing appears to be preparing for a space war with multiple possibilities.

Vladimir Dvorki, principal researcher of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences, says the US's comments about China's testing reflect its fear of China making a breakthrough in the space sector, and in particular China developing an anti-satellite weapon that can destroy the US's ability to control its military with satellites.

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