Chinese spacecraft identifies threats from U.S. GSSAP satellites in … – Open Access Government

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A Chinese study identifies threats concerning close approaches by U.S. GSSAP satellites to Chinese GEO spacecraft, revealing potential threats to high-value assets

In a recent Chinese study, scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Qian Xuesen Laboratory of Space Technology have examined the U.S. Air Force’s Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Programme (GSSAP) activities, revealing potential threats.

Tracking GSSAP activities in relation to Chinese spacecraft

Combining GSSAP satellites’ orbital data with Chinese geostationary belt satellites, researchers identified 14 potential close approaches by GSSAP satellites to Chinese spacecraft during 2020 and 2021. These close approaches included flybys and fly-arounds, with one instance coming as close as 9.54 kilometres.

Simulated imagery suggests that an approach within 10 kilometres could enable detailed imaging of targeted space objects, posing a significant threat to China’s valuable assets in the geostationary belt (GEO)

A cat-and-mouse game between China and Russia in space

Close approaches between nations in GEO are becoming more frequent, with the U.S., China, and Russia engaged in an orbital “cat-and-mouse” game to surveil each other’s assets.

This recent insight has shed new light on events transpiring 36,000 kilometres above Earth’s surface.

The significance of the Chinese study lies in its ability to illuminate the complex dynamics unfolding at an astonishing altitude of 36,000 kilometres above Earth’s surface.

By shedding new light on these ploys and strategic considerations, this research underscores the evolving nature of space geopolitics, where precision, coordination, and innovation hold the keys to securing interests in the final frontier.

Intelligence concerns as geopolitical tensions rise

While these close approaches may not present an immediate physical threat, they raise intelligence concerns. Brian Weeden, Director of Program Planning at the Secure World Foundation, emphasises the shared problem among nations and the need for proposals to address these threats in the context of increasing geopolitical tensions in space security.

It is slowly becoming clearer that international concerns on space security will only continue to grow.

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