Space: China Plays Tag Up There


September 10, 2010: Last month, a newly launched Chinese satellite (SJ-12) came very close to another Chinese bird (the two year old SJ-06A). SJ-12 was launched in June, and had spent two months maneuvering, changing its orbit, and eventually flying right next to SJ-06A. At first it was believed the Chinese were testing more anti-satellite technology, or techniques for examining dysfunctional satellites, and perhaps repairing them remotely. Then it was noted that SJ-06A changed its orbit after the visit from SJ-12. SJ-06A was believed to be dead, and not moving on its own any more. So either SJ-12 bumped into SJ-06A, fired something at the other bird, or some other, unrelated, bit of space junk hit JS-06A and shifted its orbit.

Whatever the case, it certainly looks like China is developing more ways to do whatever it wants in orbital space. This sort of space maneuvering has been performed by U.S. satellites for decades, and the Chinese seem intent on catching up.



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