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China Develops Plan To Destroy Elon Musk's Starlink Satellites

by : Daisy Phillipson on :
China Develops Plan To Destroy Elon Musk's Starlink Satellites
China Develops Plan To Destroy Elon Musk's Starlink Satellites (Alamy)

The Chinese military has been developing a plan to destroy Elon Musk's Starlink satellite internet system in the case the government deems it a threat to national security.

Starlink has long been used to help bring internet access to underserved areas, with terminals providing fast service by connecting to satellites in low orbit.

Earlier this year, the Tesla CEO faced criticism from the country after two of the satellites launched under his aerospace company SpaceX suffered close encounters with the China Space Station.

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And now a new paper has been published suggesting methods could be implemented to tear down the system, including technology capable of tracking, monitoring and disabling each unit.

The published report detailing a study led by Ren Yuanzhen, a researcher with the Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications under the PLA's Strategic Support Force, states: "A combination of soft and hard kill methods should be adopted to make some Starlink satellites lose their functions and destroy the constellation's operating system."

SpaceX currently has over 2,600 functioning Starlink satellites in orbit, although the company previously requested the green light for a second-generation constellation of 30,000 units.

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Additionally, Musk’s company secured a contract to build satellites for the US Department of Defense in 2020, which could pose further concerns for the Chinese government.

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by Elon Musk's SpaceX. Credit: Alamy
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by Elon Musk's SpaceX. Credit: Alamy

Reports at the time outlined SpaceX's plans for the satellites, based on Starlink's design, to include technology created to track intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), similar weaponry to the hypersonic missiles tested by China in recent months.

Yuanzhen suggests that US military drones and fighter jets that are connected by Starlink connection could accelerate their data transfer a hundredfold, leading the study to conclude that the technology could be a threat to national security in China.

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The researcher believes that the country must now develop sophisticated space surveillance satellites to monitor the Starlink system and the data being shared, as well as creating technology capable of destroying the SpaceX units.

"The Starlink constellation constitutes a decentralised system. The confrontation is not about individual satellites, but the whole system," reads the report. "This requires some low-cost, high-efficiency measures."

According to South China Morning Post, scientists in China have been developing alternative anti-satellite systems, including a microwave machine that can immobilise communications and destroy electric components.

Chinese scientists believes the Starlink system could post a threat to national security. Credit: Alamy
Chinese scientists believes the Starlink system could post a threat to national security. Credit: Alamy
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The country is also progressing with the development of cyber weapons that could target high- and low-orbiting satellites, and has launched a rival satellite internet provider named StarNet.

In the paper, an unnamed space scientist based in Beijing said: "The mainstream opinion, as far as I know, is that our countermeasures should be constructive. That means building our own internet satellite networks."

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Topics: News, China, Starlink, SpaceX, Space, Elon Musk