Wednesday, September 15, 2010

China Continues Satellite Maneuvers

Alan Boyle writes on

Space-watchers say China is still doing whatever it started doing last month with two close-flying satellites in orbit. And that's keeping outside observers worried about the fact that Chinese officials have not yet actually said what it is they're doing.

The maneuvers, which appear to involve rendezvous operations between the SJ-06F satellite and the more recently launched SJ-12 craft, could amount to practice for space station dockings or coordinated satellite observations from orbit. Few folks would have a problem with that. But they also could be aimed at developing the expertise for lurking near someone else's satellite and eavesdropping, or even knocking that satellite out of commission in the event of a crisis. That's the worrisome part.

The formation-flying exercise began in mid-August, and stirred up a significant fuss a couple of weeks ago when some observers speculated that the SJ-12 might have given a nudge to the SJ-06F. China says the satellites in the SJ series (SJ stands for "Shijian," or "Practice" in Chinese) are designed for scientific purposes, but space experts suspect that they actually are being used for military surveillance.

More here.


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