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Elon Musk’s Starlink Satellites Could be Endangered as Chinese Researchers Attempt to Build Anti-Satellite Technology

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TL:DR
  • China is figuring out a way to stop Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites due to their ties with the military.
  • Elon Musk was accused of providing military communication equipment to Ukraine.
  • The anti-satellite approach might not use missiles but instead another form of technology.

While Ukraine was suffering from loss of connection, Elon Musk‘s Starlink satellites came in to save the day by providing uninterrupted access to the internet via satellite for Ukrainians. China, however, might be seeing this as a threat as its researchers have published a study directed toward anti-satellite capabilities.

China cites the possibility of the network giving too much power to U.S. military vehicles like fighter jets as a concern that has prompted them to start the research. This news comes after Elon Musk publicly announced his support to Ukraine by sending Starlink satellites to provide them with communication.

Upon aiding Ukraine with Starlink satellites, the head of the Rocosmos space agency of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, sent a threat directly toward Elon Musk. As translated, Musk was accused of providing “military communication equipment” to Ukraine and should be accountable for his actions.

China Expresses Their Concerns Over Starlink Satellites

While Elon Musk was pinned as a supporter of forces against Russia, China, on the other hand, expresses its concerns regarding the Starlink satellite network in general. Although no direct moves are being made by Musk against China, the country cites his involvement with the U.S. military as the reason for concern.

A Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications researcher by the name of Ren Yuanzhen led the research. The research was also co-authored by China’s defense industry scientists.

The study is looking to stop “some Starlink satellites” through a combination of both soft and hard kill methods. Although this does not completely rule out the use of missiles, researchers specify that the approach should be highly efficient and low costing.

With thousands of low-orbit Starlink satellites, using missiles can be very costly. Due to the study wanting to take a low-cost approach, we might be able to rule out missiles. If missiles are ruled out of the picture, what’s left is either lasers, microwave technology, or even smaller satellites.

Starlink’s Involvement with the Military

Starlink’s main objective is to provide an internet connection to its commercial users but it also holds contracts with the U.S. Army for military use. Other countries have shared the same sentiment due to the company’s ties with the U.S. military and over 2,650 satellites in orbit.

In October of 2020, SpaceX won a $150 million USD contract with the U.S. Army to supply them with Starlink broadband for military data transmission across their networks. The contract was awarded to SpaceX for it to develop military-use satellites.

SpaceX also announced its plans to work with the US Air Force in order to see the limitations of Starlink’s internet during that time. On March 31, the U.S. Air Force said that F-35A fighter jets were able to successfully transmit data through Starlink satellites reaching a speed of 160M/S.

The speed at which Starlink satellites were able to accomplish 30 times the speed of traditional connections.

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