Countering Starlink's Domination, China Is Ready to Send 13,000 Satellites to Low Earth Orbit

Countering Starlink's Domination, China Is Ready to Send 13,000 Satellites to Low Earth Orbit

China made a surprise in the satellite world, because the status of outer space is a zone without the sovereignty of a country, so there is news that China will soon launch 13,000 satellites to low Earth orbit. One of the goals is to defeat the domination of the constellation of thousands of Starlink satellites owned by SpaceX.

The thousands of Starlink satellite constellations circulating in low-Earth orbit have apparently worried Beijing. For the record, Starlink is an internet satellite constellation operated by SpaceX to provide a satellite-based internet communication system to various regions on Earth. 

And with the capabilities of the Starlink satellite, it is said that Ukrainian forces have used it in the war against Russia. Starlink operates in low earth orbit or what is known as Low Earth Orbit.

Recently, a large part of Starlink's satellite capabilities have become increasingly unpredictable, beyond the ability to serve the Internet and communications for commercial purposes. So, it's not surprising that China wants to get in on the action to counter Starlink's dominance.

The project, codenamed "GW," is currently being run by a newly established group called China Satellite Network Group Co, which hopes to launch a total of 12,992 small satellites into orbit soon.

If the GW project materializes, it will automatically shrink the number of Starlink satellites, of which there are currently about 3,500 satellites, although SpaceX plans to have 12,000 satellites in orbit by 2027 and a total of 40,000 satellites in orbit by the end.

China's need to move so quickly on this project was driven by a desire to prevent Starlink from dominating low Earth orbit space and prevent other companies or countries from occupying the (space) region.

Researchers at the People's Liberation Army's Space Engineering University in Beijing who are involved with China Satellite Network Group Co hope to ensure China can have a place in low orbit and prevent the Starlink constellation from expanding.

China Satellite Network Group Co has also made claims about wanting to be able to track, and even deactivate, Starlink satellites in their own constellation. Researchers with the group have expressed concern about the maneuverability of the Starlink satellite, and claimed that such capability could be used to target and destroy other objects in space.

Apart from that, China is concerned about the potential military applications of the growing Starlink satellite constellation, especially regarding the conflict in Ukraine. For now, China wants to be able to identify each Starlink satellite and track its movements.

To aid this goal, researchers from Space Engineering University have suggested starting an international “anti-Starlink” coalition that could jointly sue SpaceX to make the location of its satellite public. But since this data is not yet available, getting into orbit on its own may be China's best bet for tracking Starlink. So far, the launch date of the Starlink counter satellite has not been announced.

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