• Thursday, November 21, 2019

Is China militarising space? Experts say new junk collector could be used as anti-satellite weapon

Discussion in 'China & Far East' started by Beidou2020, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. Beidou2020

    Beidou2020 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Long March 7 rocket, China's new model carrier rocket, lifts off from the launch pad in Wenchang, Hainan province. Photo: supplied
    A small spacecraft sent into orbit by the Long March 7 rocket launched from Hainan in southern China on Saturday is tasked with cleaning up space junk, according to the government, but some analysts claim it may serve a military purpose.

    The Aolong-1, or Roaming Dragon, is equipped with a robotic arm to remove large debris such as old satellites.

    Tang Yagang, a senior satellite scientist with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, said the Aolong-1 was the first in a series of craft that would be tasked with collecting man-made debris in space.

    For instance, it could collect a defunct Chinese satellite and bring it back to earth, crashing it safely into the ocean, he said.

    China on schedule to launch second space station this year after recovery of probe

    “China, as a responsible big country, has committed to the control and reduction of space debris. In order to fulfil the obligations and responsibilities, our country is [working endlessly towards] achieving a technological breakthrough in space debris removal technology,” Tang says on the website of the China National Space Administration.

    But the question is: did China develop the cutting-edge technology only to clean up space junk?

    “It is unrealistic to remove all space debris with robots. There are hundreds of millions of pieces drifting out there,” said a researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories in Beijing.

    To the military, the robot had potential as an anti-satellite weapon, the researcher said.

    The Roaming Dragon is small, weighing only a few hundred kilos, so the prototype could be produced and launched in large numbers.

    During peacetime, the craft could patrol space and prevent defunct satellites from crashing into big cities such as Shanghai or New York.

    During wartime, they could be used as deterrents or directly against enemy assets in space, said the researcher.

    [​IMG]A NASA simulation showing the 10 million pieces of man-made debris orbiting the Earth. Photo: supplied

    It was also a “clean” anti-satellite weapon, the researcher said. In 2007, China conducted an anti-satellite test which blew up a dead weather probe with a missile. The test prompted an international outcry because the explosion generated such a large volume of debris.

    “This time no one will point a finger [at China],” the researcher said.

    Another mainland space engineering scientist said the role of the craft to pick up space debris was a “bold experiment” with a high chance of failure.

    Sleepy Longlou on countdown to becoming the Cape Kennedy of Hainan

    “It looks simple, but some enormous challenges lie ahead, some that no other nation has solved,” said the expert.

    The development of the technology was mainly supported by the military, and kept confidential, he said.

    The first challenge in such missions was to get close to a “non-cooperative target”, the scientist said.

    But China had conducted numerous such rendezvous flights, he said. During the docking of the Shenzhou manned spacecraft to the Tiangong space laboratory, for instance, the two vehicles constantly exchanged information.

    “It is unrealistic to remove all space debris with robots. There are hundreds of millions of pieces drifting out there ...”
    The Aolong-1, by contrast, would be trying to rendezvous with a piece of cold, unresponsive debris. It would need to search for and identify the target, then plan and adjust its own course of approach.

    Another challenge involves reaching out to any debris with Aolong’s robotic arm.

    To get a firm grip, the arm must aim for a specific target area – something that in space is likely to be constantly changing.

    Sensors and computers on Aolong will have to analyse the fast, irregular patterns of the tumbling target to guide its arm.

    Such challenges would test China’s technology to the limit, said the expert.

    China is not the only country developing the technology. The European Space Agency is expected to approve a similar project called e.deorbit later this year.

    The ESA was considering two different ways to capture the debris: one using a net and the other a robot arm. With a projected launch in 2023, the e.deorbit robot would “target a European derelict satellite in low orbit, capture it, then safely burn it up in a controlled atmospheric reentry,” the ESA says on its website.

    The ESA also claims the e.deorbit would be “the world’s first active debris removal mission”, though that is no longer true given the launch of Aolong-1.

    Chinese team expects to launch first robot in space by 2020 to fix orbiting satellites

    The United States Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) plans to launch a larger, more sophisticated craft for the US Air Force in 2020. The Phoenix in-orbit servicing programme had been scheduled for launch last year, but was delayed by technical and cost concerns.

    Unlike the Aolong and e.deorbit, the Phoenix would also be able to carry out jobs such as repairing, upgrading and refuelling ageing satellites.

    It would even be able to “turn foreign satellites into US spy satellites”, according to the US air force.

    Chinese researchers with the 502 Institute at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said last year that China would launch a multi-tasking space robot similar to the Phoenix, also by about 2020.

    The China National Space Administration says the nation’s blueprint for its space robots spans missions ranging from low earth orbit to Mars.

    http://m.scmp.com/news/china/diplom...tarising-space-experts-say-new-junk-collector

    :lol:
     
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  2. !eon

    !eon SENIOR MEMBER

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    Space is already militarized, when spying satellites are orbiting and giving info to military units down on earth for attacks. Obviously someone will think about counter measures.
     
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  3. Beidou2020

    Beidou2020 SENIOR MEMBER

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    We all knew the Aolong-1 space junk collector would be big news to the haters to spin it.
     
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  4. powastick

    powastick FULL MEMBER

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    Any details on the propulsion system?
     
  5. TaiShang

    TaiShang ELITE MEMBER

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    That's the key.

    Given he amount of debris already in space, consider this global public goods by China.

    That's what I call constructive inclusive development.
     
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  6. bolo

    bolo SENIOR MEMBER

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    Who is this researcher? Does he have a name? Does he look like me?

    SCMP is truly a junk source for news. Alibaba have not done much to improve its quality after the take over.
     
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  7. feilong

    feilong BANNED

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    Keep up good work China, there is nothing China cannot do. Ignore all the haters, anyone who troll in this thread is a dumb arshe. :china:
     
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  8. TheTheoryOfMilitaryLogistics

    TheTheoryOfMilitaryLogistics FULL MEMBER

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    If new junk collector can be used as a anti-satellite weapon,then space shuttle can be used as a space warship and space station can be used as a space military base and astronauts will be space warriors.
     
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  9. Established_1965

    Established_1965 FULL MEMBER

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    WTF! Global public good!!

    China is one of the reason for huge space junk.

    From Wikipedia:
    China's government was condemned for the military implications and the amount of debris from the 2007 anti-satellite missile test,the largest single space debris incident in history (creating over 2,300 pieces golf-ball size or larger, over 35,000 1 cm (0.4 in) or larger, and one million pieces 1 mm (0.04 in) or larger). The target satellite orbited between 850 km (530 mi) and 882 km (548 mi), the portion of near-Earth space most densely populated with satellites. Since atmospheric drag is low at that altitude the debris is slow to return to Earth, and in June 2007 NASA's Terra environmental spacecraft maneuvered to avoid impact from the debris.
     
  10. Genesis

    Genesis SENIOR MEMBER

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    Do you know how much space junk is in space? Now we contributed sure, but considering our late entry into space, ours is a fart in a hurricane.

    This is like saying the European nations are not doing public good by cutting pollution, since they been polluting the world about 100 years before we even started.

    Considering the low involvement of other powers in this particular problem, we could have just left it, it's not like China is being pushed to clean up. However, we are helping. Don't make everything so political.
     
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  11. Established_1965

    Established_1965 FULL MEMBER

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    China is not doing it for free or for sake of humanity, my friend.
    China and other countries ( who have active satellite mission or anti-satellite missiles) are part of the problem.
    China is doing it because space junk might harm or destroy Chinese satellites or Chinese Space Station.
     
  12. Hamartia Antidote

    Hamartia Antidote ELITE MEMBER

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    Well right now the quoted hater is:
    "a researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories in Beijing"

    So don't point your finger outwards instead of inwards.
     
  13. Genesis

    Genesis SENIOR MEMBER

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    No perhaps not. Yet it is still a public good. Do you also tell the soldiers and police that their work isn't a service because they get paid? Their reason for joining the force is that payment?

    China did what it did for ourselves certainly, but others benefit as well. That's what makes it a public good.

    Your assertion that a public good can only be a selfless act is quite ironic, because the only people that can say that they are selfless are poor nations that have no stake in space, and that same quality makes them incapable of even imagining what it would take to succeed.
     
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  14. gambit

    gambit PROFESSIONAL

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    No, at least not yet.

    The CURRENT context of the 'militarization of space' mean the stationing of satellites that contains weapons and must be long duration like observation satellites. Take the Chinese space station Tiangong, for example. As long as the station remains for non-military purposes and does not have weapons, it will be considered 'civilian'. Of course, the Chinese could covertly armed that station and we would know nothing about it.
     
  15. Kiss_of_the_Dragon

    Kiss_of_the_Dragon ELITE MEMBER

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    Good new for China, grab junk or grab enemy's sat won't make any difference, national interest come first:lol:
     
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