China Raises Concerns Over US and Elon Musk’s Space Activities


China has voiced accusations against the United States and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, claiming that their Starshield program is contributing to the militarization of space. The Chinese military has expressed concerns about SpaceX’s involvement in developing advanced intelligence satellite systems since 2023, with accusations of escalating tensions.

The Starshield program, aimed at enhancing the US government and military’s capabilities to identify potential targets globally, has come under scrutiny. Reports suggest that Starshield, in collaboration with the National Reconnaissance Office, secured a classified contract worth US$1.8 billion in 2021. The deployment of a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites by Starshield is anticipated to revolutionize information gathering and space asset security.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has highlighted the military advantages offered by these satellites, including the ability to detect and intercept missiles and control unmanned combat platforms remotely. These capabilities are deemed crucial on the battlefield, as emphasized by PLA Daily commentary.

The PLA Daily commentary also noted the enhanced secure communication capabilities and expanded Earth observation and payload capabilities of these satellites. Situated in low-Earth orbit, approximately 2,000 km (1,200 miles) or less from the Earth’s surface, these satellites provide improved signal transmission and data refresh rates, facilitated by advanced technology such as transponders, imaging sensors, and space environmental monitors.

Criticism from the PLA Daily extends to the US for allegedly militarizing the development of low-orbit satellites, accusing the nation of seeking orbital resources and space dominance. This has raised concerns about information and space asset security among other countries, according to the commentary.

The PLA Daily further expressed concerns about the United States utilizing its space military capabilities to intervene in regional conflicts by providing information support through non-combatant means. SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service, actively deployed in conflict-affected regions like Ukraine and parts of the Gaza Strip since June 2023, has garnered support from the US government, despite objections from Chinese state-owned enterprises.

China has countered with its own satellite internet projects, including G60 Starlink and the Guo Wang project, as part of its ambitious five-year space program. Additionally, China aims to establish satellite remote-sensing systems and deploy satellites in very low-Earth orbit to bolster its surveillance capabilities.


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