star link | Elon Musk’s satellites against China

In the event of a conflict, China should have the means to neutralize SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites, according to a new article by military researchers from the Middle Kingdom. Elon Musk has donated thousands of Starlink receivers to the Ukrainian army and is working to develop anti-jamming capabilities to counter Russia.

Posted at 12:00 AM

Mathieu Perrault

Mathieu Perrault
Journalism

“A combination of destruction methods must be adopted to prevent certain Starlink satellites from turning on and destroying the constellation’s operating system. Translated by a retired US diplomat on his blog and picked up by many technology media outlets, this article from the Chinese magazine “Modern Defense Technology” does not surprise Caitlin Johnson , which has been tracking anti-satellite weapons for six years.China is at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Paranoia

“In China, the entire space program is controlled at least indirectly by the government and the military,” says Ms.I Johnson, whose last report was in April. “In my discussions with civilians and Chinese officials, I see that for them it is the same as for SpaceX.”

They are convinced that the US military is remotely guiding Elon Musk’s choices.

Caitlin Johnson, Deputy Director and Researcher at CSIS

“It certainly isn’t, because Starlink’s use is very limited for the US military. It says the Internet link is very weak and inaccurate.

steadfastness

Can China paralyze Starlink? “Not by destroying the satellites, there will be a lot, even for the US military,” says MI Johnson. We’re at 2400, and there will be tens of thousands of others. But there may be interference from other Chinese satellites. At the moment, Russia is jamming Ukrainian Starlink receivers from the ground, but for this you have to be very close.

“Elon Musk also announced that he was working on anti-jamming capabilities to help Ukraine,” she says.

space “just in time”

Either way, the low cost of SpaceX launches makes it easier to replace destroyed satellites with Chinese missiles. The U.S. Army is also working on the Tactical Flexibility of Launching program (Tactical Responsive Firing), which is expected to receive $150 million in financing in 2023. says M.I Johnson.

In March, the military research and development agency DARPA ended a competition it launched in 2016. None of the 18 selected companies passed the test, which included two launches in less than two weeks — with locations, cargo planes and orbits finally revealing the moment.

says mI Johnson.

Chinese capabilities

says mI Johnson. “They have many projects for internet towers and small launchers that are able to respond quickly, but the focus has been mainly on large satellites and large launchers.”

Starlink ABCs

The first Starlink satellites, the Elon Musk project announced in 2015, were launched in 2019. Internet coverage is offered by Starlink in 33 countries, and the first customers were connected in early 2021.

The Starlink satellites are in low orbit, 340 km away, and weigh just over 225 kg. This low weight allows for frequent launches, which is necessary due to the low height. In fact, a satellite in a very low orbit in the Earth’s atmosphere sinks much faster. Each Starlink satellite is five years old. This ultra-low orbit also reduces communication delay, which has the advantage of improving Internet signal quality.

However, many astronomers are concerned about the interference that tens of thousands of Starlink satellites will cause in observations from ground-based telescopes.

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  • 400,000
    Number of Starlink Customers in May 2022

    Source: Starlink

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