CHINA is planning to use anti-satellite nuclear weapons to blast a spacecraft out of orbit and cripple Elon Musk’s Starlink.
Researchers previously called for the development of anti-satellite technology to protect the country from SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.
China called for the development of anti-satellite technology to protect itself against the StarlinkCredit: AP
And now China has a model to simulate attacks using nuclear weapons to destroy satellites in near-Earth orbit, South China Morning Post reports.
The Northwest Institute of Nuclear Technology, a Xian-based research institute, claims to have developed a model to evaluate the performance of nuclear anti-satellite weapons.
According to a paper by nuclear physicist Liu Li and his team, the simulation revealed that a ten-megaton warhead could destroy satellites if detonated at an altitude of 50 miles.
The blast would then turn air molecules into radioactive particles sparking a pear-shaped cloud that could cause damage to satellites.
The scientists said: “The strong residual radiation of the debris cloud may cause failures of spacecraft moving in it, such as satellites, or even cause direct damage that can lead to destruction.”
The team also noted that a space-based nuclear explosion would be ineffective due to the lack of air preventing the formation of a large radioactive cloud.
High-energy particles created by the blast would be captured by the Earth’s atmosphere and spread around the globe as a radiation belt which would damage nuclear weapons.
But with the presence of air molecules on Earth, an explosion in near space would spark a cloud bigger than the bomb itself.
It comes after Chinese defence scientists said the nation needs to be able to protect itself from SpaceX’s Starlink satellites if they pose a threat to national security.
In a paper published in Modern Defence Technology, officials called for the development of a defense system that would be able to disable or destroy Starlink satellites and feature a surveillance tool that can track and monitor them.
Ren Yuanzhen, a researcher with the Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications, led the study alongside several senior scientists in China’s defense industry.
“A combination of soft and hard kill methods should be adopted to make some Starlink satellites lose their functions and destroy the constellation’s operating system,” the study authors wrote.
Starlink aims to put thousands of small satellites in low-Earth orbit but Chinese military officials are concerned the satellites could enter the country’s space station or satellites or disable space infrastructure during a war.
Meanwhile, a top British spy chief has warned that China is already building weapons to take control of space.
GCHQ boss Sir Jeremy Fleming said during a security meeting earlier this month: “Many believe that China is building a powerful anti-satellite capability, with a doctrine of denying other nations access to space in the event of a conflict.
“And there are fears the technology could be used to track individuals.”
Russia and China have both tested anti-satellite weapons that could destroy communication, surveillance and GPS satellites which are used for navigation and guiding precision missiles.
China has been declared an “official threat” to Britain with Sir Jeremy Fleming adding: “China’s great strength combined with fear is driving them into actions that could represent a huge threat to us all.
“They see nations as either potential adversaries or potential client states, to be threatened, bribed, or coerced.“