China May Have the Edge in the Final Frontier With Its 'Satellite-Crushing' Weapon
03:42 GMT 27.10.2021 (Updated: 06:16 GMT 27.10.2021)
© STRThis photo taken on October 7, 2021 shows a Long March-2F carrier rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft, being transported to the launching area at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the country's northwestern Gansu province.
China's launch of its Shijian 21 satellite into orbit has sparked fears in the US military that Beijing has just unveiled a new satellite-crushing weapon.
Chinese officials say the mission is to test technologies that could help neutralise space debris. However, the US warns the technology is part of Beijing's plan to achieve superior space attack systems.
In 2016, Beijing launched its first official "debris-clearing" satellite, Shijian 17. The craft was officially designated as a communication satellite with the mission to observe space debris.
The US military believed that it was equipped with a robotic arm making it capable of attacking and bringing down other satellites and orbiting craft.
The head of the US Space Command, General James Dickinson, has written to Congress, saying that China's Shijian satellites "could be used in future for grappling other satellites".
Satellites have become increasingly important to modern military operations, as well as daily life. Communication and location systems are all aided by or dependent on satellites. Having the ability to knock out another military's satellites is a massive tactical advantage, as it can render an opposing force blind.