Azara Blog: China allegedly blasts a weather satellite with a missile

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Date published: 2007/01/19

The BBC says:

China is facing international criticism over a weapons test it reportedly carried out in space last week.

Japan has expressed concern, as have the US and Australia.

It is thought that the Chinese used a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile to destroy a weather satellite that had been launched in 1999.

Correspondents say this is the first known satellite intercept test for more than 20 years. China's foreign ministry refused to confirm or deny the report.

While the technology is not new, it does underline the growing capabilities of China's armed forces, according to the BBC's Dan Griffiths in Beijing.

Late on Thursday, US National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe confirmed an article in the magazine American Aviation Week and Space Technology, which reported that the test had taken place.

The report said that a Chinese Feng Yun 1C polar orbit weather satellite was destroyed by an anti-satellite system launched from or near China's Xichang Space Centre on 11 January.

The test is thought to have occurred at more than 537 miles (865km) above the Earth.
The test, if confirmed, would mean that China could now theoretically shoot down spy satellites operated by other nations.

It would be the first such test since the 1980s, when both the US and the Soviet Union destroyed satellites in space.

These tests were halted over concerns that the debris they produced could harm civilian and military satellite operations.

The same concerns have been raised about this latest reported test.

American Aviation Week and Space Technology said the move could have left "considerable space debris in an orbit used by many different satellites".

While the US may be unhappy about China's actions, the Washington administration has recently opposed international calls to end such tests.

It revised US space policy last October to state that Washington had the right to freedom of action in space, and the US is known to be researching such "satellite-killing" weapons itself.

Yes, blasting a satellite like this is not the most brilliant thing to do, there is enough space junk up there already. Unfortunately, when you have a regime like China (and a regime like America) it is hardly surprising that this kind of militaristic posturing takes place.

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