Pentagon Says 2013 Chinese Launch May Have Tested Antisatellite Technology

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Protection Division is suggesting that the Might 2013 launch of a Chinese language rocket that it branded on the time as suspicious was a check of a expertise designed to counter or destroy satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

Picture of the Might 13, 2013 launch from Xichang taken from Hong Kong. Credit score: Wah!

China characterised the launch as a scientific sounding rocket mission, however the U.S. Air Drive mentioned the automobile’s trajectory was inconsistent with that clarification. In a press release launched shortly after the launch, the service mentioned the rocket climbed to an almost geosynchronous-orbit altitude — 36,000 kilometers excessive — however that every one objects related to the launch subsequently re-entered the ambiance.

In its newest annual report on Chinese language army energy, launched Might 8, the Pentagon doubled down on its preliminary evaluation.

“The launch profile was not according to conventional space-launch automobiles, ballistic missiles or sounding rocket launches used for scientific analysis,” the report mentioned. “It might, nevertheless, have been a check of applied sciences with a counterspace mission in geosynchronous orbit.”

Air Drive and Protection Division officers have repeatedly warned over the previous yr about rising Chinese language and Russian threats to satellite tv for pc capabilities. Within the case of China, these officers have primarily cited two occasions: China’s deliberate destruction in 2007 of one among its personal low-orbiting satellites with a floor launched missile; and a “nondestructive” anti-satellite check in 2014.

In its newest “Annual Report back to Congress: Navy and Safety Developments Involving the Folks’s Republic of China 2015,” the Pentagon mentioned the 2014 launch had a “comparable profile” to the 2007 launch. Chinese language officers described the 2014 occasion as a missile protection check.

The Pentagon had been largely mum concerning the 2013 launch between its preliminary evaluation and the discharge of the brand new report on China’s army. However impartial observers have been much less restrained.

“Whereas there isn’t a conclusive proof, the out there proof strongly means that China’s Might 2013 launch was the check of the rocket part of a brand new direct ascent [anti-satellite] weapons system derived from a road-mobile ballistic missile,” Brian Weeden, technical adviser to the Safe World Basis, a nonprofit group devoted to area sustainability, mentioned in an evaluation launched in March 2014.

In line with a 2013 press launch from the Chinese language Academy of the Sciences’ Nationwide Area Science Heart, the sounding rocket was launched from Xichang Satellite tv for pc Launch Heart and carried payloads for learning the high-energy particles within the higher ambiance and near-Earth area.

“The launch seemed to be on a ballistic trajectory almost to geosynchronous Earth orbit,” Lt. Col. Monica Matoush, a Pentagon spokeswoman, wrote in an e mail to table4 on Might 16, 2013. “We tracked a number of objects through the flight however didn’t observe the insertion of any objects into orbit and no objects related to this launch stay in area. Primarily based upon observations, we assess that the objects reentered the ambiance above the Indian Ocean.”

The cat-and-mouse recreation in area between the US and China was the topic of a current section on the favored CBS Information program 60 Minutes. The section included the next change between CBS Information’ David Martin and Gen. John Hyten, commander of Air Drive Area Command:

Martin: These observe on Chinese language checks, how excessive up do they go?

Hyten: Fairly excessive. [smiles]

Martin: Effectively, how excessive’s that?

Hyten: I received’t characterize what– what the Chinese language capabilities are. I simply will let you know that we all know what they’re.

Recommended For You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.