China's 'Satellite Crusher': 'Space Pearl Harbor' Is Coming

- GATESTONE INSTITUTE - Gordon G. Chang - NOV 1, 2021 -

America is now behind China in the ability to take down satellites. "The Shijian-21 satellite is a game-changer," says Weichert, who also produces The Weichert Report. "It is a real-world offensive capability that can hunt and destroy American systems and render the U.S. military on earth deaf, dumb, and blind." Pictured: The Shenzhou-13 mission lifts off with three astronauts bound for China's new space station, from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China, on October 16, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
  • The satellite, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., is "tasked with demonstrating technologies to alleviate and neutralize space debris."

  • As Beijing sees it, American satellites constitute "debris."

  • "[Communist China's satellite] is a real-world offensive capability that can hunt and destroy American systems and render the U.S. military on earth deaf, dumb, and blind." — Brandon Weichert, author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower, to Gatestone.

  • At one time, America was dominant in space, and American political leaders decided to go slow on developing anti-satellite weapons for fear of triggering a competition.

  • All that American restraint did was to allow the Chinese and Russian militaries to grab commanding leads in the race to deploy these impossible-to-defend-against delivery systems for nuclear weapons.

  • Unfortunately, "the Department of Defense is still unbelievably bureaucratic and slow."

  • The Pentagon's bureaucracy "is just brutal." — Outgoing Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Hyten, CNN, October 28, 2021.

  • Fortunately, there is also Elon Musk, a bureaucracy of one.

On October 24, China launched its Shijian-21 into orbit. The satellite, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., is "tasked with demonstrating technologies to alleviate and neutralize space debris."


As Beijing sees it, American satellites constitute "debris."


Shijian-21 has a robotic arm that can be used to move space junk—there are more than 100 million pieces of it floating around the earth—or capture, disable, destroy, or otherwise render unusable other nations' satellites. That arm makes Shijian-21 a "satellite crusher."


Brandon Weichert, author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower, tells Gatestone that the Chinese satellite was launched into geosynchronous orbit, where many of America's most sensitive satellite systems—those critical to Nuclear Command, Communications, and Control (NC3), surveillance, and military communications—are located.


"Because the U.S. satellites in geosynchronous orbit are so far away from earth, they are both expensive and hard-to-replace," he notes. "Losing any of these systems, with no replacements on hand, would give China's military an unprecedented advantage in the event of an outbreak of hostilities."


China has designed its new space station, Richard Fisher of the International Assessment and Strategy Center tells me, "to incorporate additional large military modules that can be equipped with lasers, microwave, or missile-based anti-satellite systems."


In September 2008, China's Shenzhou-7 manned mission came within 45 kilometers of the International Space Station as the Chinese crew was launching a microsatellite, "an obvious simulated ISS-intercept mission," says Fisher. One of the veterans of that mission, Fisher tells Gatestone, is now the commander on board the Chinese space station.


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