One thing China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is now wary of is Starlink. High-speed internet is being delivered through Starlink, a cluster of artificial satellites launched into the sky. US private company SpaceX is doing this work. However, the PLA has warned that the US government is taking advantage of this. Such information was published in the Liberation Army Daily.
Starlink facility was launched in Ukraine last year. Ukraine seeks help from SpaceX after Russian forces start attacking Ukraine. The PLA newspaper referred to it as an ally of the United States, saying that this technology could dominate them.
Starlink has become crucial for Kyiv forces in the Ukraine war. This facility of artificial satellites is being used to communicate between soldiers, identify targets and upload videos of various incidents online and spread them quickly around the world. This internet facility from artificial satellites is not easily jammed.
According to China, this advantage of Starlink has created both difficulties and concerns for its ally Russia. Because, if necessary, Taiwan can take advantage of this. China considers the island of Taiwan as part of itself. However, Taiwan considers itself independent. China fears that if Taiwan gets access to Starlink, it will be difficult for them to attack Taiwan if necessary.
Besides Taiwan, China has other concerns surrounding Starlink. They fear that the United States is occupying various areas in the lower part of the sky through Starlink. So China also wants to show its power in that field. China is also on the way to take advantage of the Starlink system. So, like Starlink, they have started sending their own artificial satellites into the sky.
Analysts say that if China ever invades Taiwan, it will be the first to cut off 14 internet connections under the sea. Taiwan knows its weakness. They have started taking defensive measures in this case. Taipei is testing it by installing antennas at about 700 locations. Some antennas are also being installed outside of Taiwan. These antennas can transmit signals to low-orbit satellites. Starlink basically works like this. Arrangements are also being made so that these antennas are not destroyed in any attack. Zeng Isuo, an analyst at Taiwan’s National Defense and Security Research Institute, reported this information.
China, however, has the capability to destroy artificial satellites through missiles. However, Starlink is a cluster of 4,000 artificial satellites. The company plans to send more than 10,000 artificial satellites into orbit. But China could reap more benefits by keeping SpaceX founder Elon Musk flexible. They could pressure Elon Musk to stop giving Starlink privileges to Taiwan. Because, his car manufacturing company Tesla’s huge factory is located in Shanghai, China.
Last year, Elon Musk promised more concessions to China’s control over Taiwan.
But Taiwan wants to reduce its dependence on others. Their own space agency is developing artificial satellites used for low-orbit communications. Their first satellite could be launched in 2025.
But China’s goal of controlling low orbit is bigger than Taiwan’s. According to a document submitted to the International Telecommunication Union by the United Nations agency in 2020, a cluster of 12,992 artificial satellites will form the star. The year after that document was submitted, the Chinese government created China Satellite Networks Group Limited. They are working on making artificial satellites. At least seven government agencies and privately owned companies are building these artificial satellite factories. They are expected to deliver hundreds of artificial satellites each year.
Beijing officials have already hinted at competition with other countries in space. The Liberation Army Daily warned last year that specific orbits and radio frequencies are strategic assets. Starlink is trying to show absolute dominance here. Yu Yansheng, chairman of the China Aerospace Exploration Agency, said last year that China must advance rapidly to become a superpower in space. Last April, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited three entrepreneurial institutions.
One of these is the artificial satellite maker Galaxy Space. The company launched six artificial satellites last year.
President Xi Jinping is the main promoter of China’s space race. He announced the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army. His generals have been researching US information and communications technology for a long time. C now wants to build a sophisticated ‘information-rich’ army. The task of this force will be to conduct joint operations by water, land, and air using information technology. Apart from this, they will be ahead in everything in space and the cyber world.
Competition in space
Besides SpaceX, China has more rivals in low orbit. Meanwhile, the UK government has taken an initiative called OneWeb. They are sending 650 artificial satellites into low orbit. Apart from this, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has taken an initiative called Kuiper. Their trial run will begin soon. Beyond this, the European Union will develop its own system. Russia is not behind in this race. The powerful countries of the world are looking at satellite internet as their strategic capability.
SpaceX has important advantages. Artificial satellites do not stay in the sky for long. So they have to be changed regularly. This requires many rocket launches. SpaceX, however, has its own rocket launch system. There are also rockets. They have developed a reusable rocket named Falcon 9. Now they are building a huge rocket called Starship, which can launch hundreds of artificial satellites at once.
The activities of US institutions have worried China. According to PLA Daily news, a maximum of 50,000 artificial satellites can be sent into low orbit. In this, Starlink can occupy 80 percent of the space alone.
Juliana Suess of the Royal United Services Institute said the calculation is not so straight forward. Consider the lower orbit as a road. Here you have to calculate how many cars are able to move there safely. Much of this relies on the size of the artificial satellites and their orbits.
In 2021, two Starlink satellites nearly meet head-on with the Chinese space station. At that time two artificial satellites had to be withdrawn. However, the United States denied China’s complaint. Benjamin Silverstein said the two superpowers will calculate orbits in different ways. They may also disagree on the issue of space relaxation. However, the problem, in this case, is the scarcity of communication between the two parties.