China conducts satellite capture in space as part of Star Wars military program
China last week conducted a test of a maneuvering satellite that captured another satellite in space during what Pentagon officials say was a significant step forward for Beijing’s space warfare program.
The satellite capture took place last week and involved one of three small satellites fitted with a mechanical arm that were launched July 20 as part of a covert anti-satellite weapons development program, said U.S. officials familiar with reports of the test.
One official described the satellite-grabbing spacecraft as a “mobile satellite launch vehicle.”
The satellites involved in the space warfare development program were identified by the Chinese as “scientific experimentation satellites,” according to a notice published July 24 in the online journal Space News.
They were identified as Chuangxin-3 (Innovation-3), Shiyan-7 (Experiment-7), and Shijian-15 (Practice-15). The spacecraft with the robotic mechanical arm that conducted the satellite capture experiment has not been authoritatively identified from among the three orbiters. However, space analysts suspect it is Shiyan-7.
Space analyst Bob Christy, who writes the blog Zarya.info that first disclosed the three satellites, said no public information has indicated the three satellites involved in earlier close maneuvers engaged in a significant orbit change since activities in August.
“There have certainly been no more approaches between them, and Payload A has shown no sign of maneuvering in the whole of its time in space,” he said in an email.
Since no other satellites are in the same orbit as the three satellites and another satellite known as Shijian-7, “if the capture was last week, it didn’t involve any of these working together,” he said.
The robotic satellite may be part of efforts to develop China’s large space station set to be deployed around 2020.
However, Pentagon officials believe the small satellite activity is more closely associated with China’s secret ASAT program.
Little is known about the Chinese space warfare program, which is among the Chinese military’s most closely guarded secrets.
Full article: China Testing New Space Weapons (Washington Free Beacon)