‘Fast movers’: Chinese satellites zoom around for inspections—or interference

May 21, 2024

Defense One

Is China building out a satellite network in geosynchronous Earth orbit while deploying a fleet of robot guardians to patrol them?

In his final appearance before Congress as assistant defense secretary for space policy, on May 1, John Plumb appeared to suggest as much. “China has developed robotic satellites that…can be used for military purposes like grappling a satellite,” Plumb said.

It is clear that China sees the space domain as the “ultimate high ground” for competition back on Earth, reinforced by its recent reorganization of the Strategic Support Force and creation of a new Aerospace Force that reports directly to the supreme Central Military Commission. This vision is backed by more aggressive rhetoric in recent years.

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