Ominous China satellite constellations and operations

Special to, July 25, 2023


By Richard Fisher

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, China maintains over 500 surveillance, intelligence, early warning, navigation and communication satellites around the Earth — the second largest satellite fleet after the United States.

But several Chinese satellite programs are underway that will boost these numbers as they demonstrate technologies that will prove of immense use to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which ultimately controls all Chinese space and satellite programs.

Launched on March 30, 2023, China’s GalaxySpace PIESAT constellation of InSAR radar satellites offers near ‘microscopic’ all weather resolution, of great use to Chinese military planners. / GalaxySpace

Laser Communication: On June 30 the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that a laser-communication payload the Jilin-1 MF02A04 satellite, launched in December 2022, had been tested at a record Space-to-Earth data transmission speed of 10 Gigabytes per second.

The SCMP report noted that it could transmit a digital movie in a second, about 10 to 1,000 times faster than microwave data transmission technology.

While this report noted initial uses for this laser communication technology would be to assist China’s commercial shipping industry, it also has immense military implications, such as making possible the control of unmanned joint-force combat formations at multiple locations around the globe.

Millimeter Level Radarsat Resolution: On March 30, 2023 China launched the world’s first commercial constellation of four X-Band interferometric synthetic radar satellites (InSAR), that collate their radar signals and when processed, can result in 1:50,000 resolution, or to the millimeter level. They are a product of China’s GalaxySpace corporation.

While marketed as a means to monitor topography at a minute level, for the PLA this constellation will allow the monitoring of military targets in the United States, Taiwan, Japan and other countries at an almost “microscopic” level.

Jilin Constellation To 300 Satellites By 2025: Since 2015 the Chang Guang Satellite Technology company has been building the “Jilin” polar-orbiting Low Earth Orbit surveillance satellite constellation, and with a June 15 launch, placed 108 satellites in orbit out of an expected 300 by 2025. . . .

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