Image: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation

Blog Editor’s Note: America used to think space was a safe place, so we put a lot of our most important assets there.

We thought GPS was particularly safe because attacking a satellite was hard, and destroying one would do little harm to the overall constellation.

Space Force, DIA and others are now telling us that our adversaries have the capability to destroy multiple satellites at once, or at least very quickly, using lasers and/or a large number of hunter-killer satellites. 

Seeing extra Chinese things in space is worrying.


An object is now orbiting alongside China’s Shijian-21 debris mitigation satellite

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HELSINKI — U.S. space tracking has detected a new object orbiting along with China’s recently launched Shijian-21 space debris mitigation technology satellite.

Shijian-21 was launched into geosynchronous transfer orbit Oct. 23 by a Long March 3B rocket. Chinese state media reported that the satellite would “test and verify space debris mitigation technologies,” but no further details have been revealed.

The Shijian-21 spacecraft was developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST). SAST in September unveiled a “supplemental service spacecraft” concept at the Zhuhai Airshow.

On Nov. 1* U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron (SPCS) cataloged a new object alongside Shijian-21 with the international designator 2021-094C. The object is noted as a rocket body and more precisely an apogee kick motor (AKM), used in some launches for a satellite to circularize and lower the inclination of its transfer orbit and enter geostationary orbit.