China is accusing US and Elon Musk of ‘militarising space’ - Hindustan Times

China is accusing US and Elon Musk of ‘militarising space’

Apr 19, 2024 11:08 PM IST

US and Elon Musk's SpaceX's Starshield program under accusations by Chinese military for militarizing space.

Elon Musk's SpaceX has been involved with the US in developing advanced intelligence satellite systems since 2023; and now the official Chinese military newspaper accused it of “militarising space” and inciting tensions.

China PLA criticizes US for militarizing low-Earth orbit satellites, accuses of seeking space hegemony.(X./File)
China PLA criticizes US for militarizing low-Earth orbit satellites, accuses of seeking space hegemony.(X./File)

This network, known as Starshield, aims to provide the US government and military with enhanced capabilities to “quickly spot potential targets almost anywhere on the globe.”

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According to reports, Starshield, in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office, signed a classified contract worth US$1.8 billion in 2021. The constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites being developed by Starshield is expected to revolutionize information gathering and space asset security.

China PLA (People's Liberation Army) also claimed that the US used the satellites in Ukraine and Gaza.

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These satellites offer significant military advantages, it can “warn and intercept missiles and control unmanned combat platforms remotely” and would play “an extremely important role on the battlefield.”

The PLA Daily commentary highlighted the satellite “has not only upgraded its secure communication capabilities” but “further expanded its Earth observation and payload capabilities.”

Those satellites located in a low-Earth orbit – altitudes of 2,000 km (1,200 miles) or less – transmit better signals and refresh the data frequently. The technology that is involved there includes the transponders, imaging sensors, and the space environmental monitor, which have to added to these satellites.

The PLA Daily criticized the US for “militarising the transformation and development of low-orbit satellites” with low-Earth orbit satellites.

It also accused that US collaboration with civilian and commercial entities want to “seize orbital resources and pursue space hegemony.”

According to the commentary, this “posed huge challenges to information and space asset security to other countries.”

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The PLA Daily also expressed their concern: “In recent regional military conflicts, the United States has relied on its space military capabilities to intervene in other countries by providing information support through ‘non-combatant means.”

“This type of action has brought great challenges to maintaining regional peace and stability, ” they added.

SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet service has been actively connected to regions affected by conflicts, such as Ukraine and parts of the Gaza Strip. The US government has supported this initiative, covering the costs since June 2023.

However, Chinese state-owned enterprises have been developing their own satellite internet projects, such as G60 Starlink and the Guo Wang project.

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China has also outlined ambitious plans in its five-year space program, including establishing satellite “remote-sensing systems”.

China strives to deploy satellites in very low-Earth orbit to enhance its surveillance capabilities.

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