WASHINGTON – China may be preparing another anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test, according to public interest group, but the type of test and target remain unclear.
The Union of Concerned Scientists said Friday (Jan. 4) that hints of Chinese ASAT test have been circulating for months. Two previous Chinese ASAT test in 2007 and 2010 both occurred on Jan. 11. While the science group said it has been unable to confirm reports originating from inside the Chinese government, a senior analyst said the group has been told by a senior U.S. military official that “the Obama administration was very concerned about an imminent Chinese ASAT test.”
In a blog post, Gregory Kulacki also wrote: “Given these high-level administration concerns, and past Chinese practice, there seems to be a strong possibility China will conduct an ASAT test within the next few weeks. What kind of test and what the target might be is unclear.”
A 2007 test targeted an aging Chinese weather satellite. An ASAT interceptor destroyed the 1-ton satellite in low Earth orbit. The 2010 Chinese test involved a missile defense system that destroyed an object not in Earth orbit, the group said.
The U.S. destroyed a malfunctioning U.S. spy satellite in 2008 using a ship-based Standard Missile.
Among the concerns raised by ASAT tests is that they can create large fields of space debris that could collide with and damage other satellites.
ASAT tests can generate large debris fields.
The science group said it remains unclear what if any diplomatic steps the Obama administration might take to prevent another Chinese ASAT test.
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