New commission report reveals Chinese plans to take down U.S. satellites

An upcoming report by the congressional U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission provides new details about China’s space weapons program’s plan to destroy and disrupt U.S. satellites.

“China is pursuing a broad and robust array of counterspace capabilities, which includes direct-ascent anti-satellite missiles, co-orbital anti-satellite systems, computer network operations, ground-based satellite jammers and directed energy weapons,” a late draft of the commission’s annual report reads. “China’s nuclear arsenal also provides an inherent anti-satellite capability.”

Two direct-ascent missiles capable of decimating both low- and high-orbit satellites, the SC-19 and the DN-2, are currently under development by China. The DN-2 could be launched in five to ten years. In addition, China is also developing co-orbital anti-satellite weapons.

The fact that China is developing co-orbital anti-satellite weapons isn’t exactly groundbreaking news. Back in 2008, for instance, a Chinese miniature imaging satellite flew within 28 miles of the International Space Station without notification. The incident was regarded as a simulated co-orbital anti-satellite attack.(1)

Details of the commission report

The commission report will be released next month. China’s People’s Liberation Army states that developing weapons capable of disrupting or destroying satellites is necessary in order to dissuade its enemies. They also note that disrupting satellites is a better way to deter its enemies than using nuclear weapons.

“The PLA assesses U.S. satellites are critical to the United States’ ability to sustain combat operations globally,” says the report. “PLA analysis of U.S. military operations states that ‘destroying or capturing satellites and other sensors will deprive an opponent of initiative on the battlefield and [make it difficult] for them to bring their precision-guided weapons into full play.”(1)

China is also devising military cyberattacks that seize control of satellites by breaching control of microwave signals used by GPS. The report also declares that during a conflict, China will “attempt to conduct computer network attacks against U.S. satellites and ground-based facilities that interact with U.S. satellites.”(1)

“If executed successfully, such attacks could significantly threaten U.S. information superiority, particularly if they are conducted against satellites with sensitive military and intelligence functions,” the report says. “For example, access to a satellite’s controls could allow an attacker to damage or destroy the satellite; deny, degrade, or manipulate its transmissions; or access its capabilities or the information, such as imagery, that can be gained through its sensors.”(1)

The report also reveals that China was most likely the culprit behind the computer attacks on U.S. space assets, including the September 2014 hack of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric satellite and weather service systems.

China also attained multiple electronic ground-based jammers intended to disrupt satellite communications. The report also reveals that China used a high powered laser to jam U.S satellites in 2006.

Beijing’s nuclear force may be used to bring down U.S. satellites. A nuclear explosion in low Earth orbit could cause an electromagnetic pulse capable of wiping out vulnerable satellites.

Robbing us blind

The commander of the U.S. Northern Command, Adm. William Gortney, said that, if the China issued cyberattacks on U.S. satellites, it would be like “robbing us blind.”(1)

“They’re robbing our intellectual capital blind, the Chinese are,” Adm. Gortney said. “They can’t keep their industry moving without robbing our intellectual capital from our private industry. And they’re robbing us blind.”(1)

When asked whether the U.S.–China agreement to ban cyber economic spying will work, the admiral responded, “They’re going to have to show me that they’re going to stop. I just don’t see that happening.”(1)

The month of May was a busy month for Chinese hackers. They managed to hack Penn State, Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Berkeley and United Airlines.

Sources include:


value="Enter your email address here..." style=" border-radius: 2px; font: 14px/100% Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; padding: .2em 2em .2em;" onfocus="if(this.value == 'Enter your email address here...') { this.value = ''; }" onblur="if(this.value == '') { this.value = 'Enter your email address here...'; }" />

style="display: inline-block;

outline: none;

cursor: pointer;

text-align: center;

text-decoration: none;

font: 14px/100% Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;

padding: .2em 1em .3em;

text-shadow: 0 1px 1px rgba(0,0,0,.3);

-webkit-border-radius: .2em;

-moz-border-radius: .2em;

border-radius: .2em;

-webkit-box-shadow: 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.2);

-moz-box-shadow: 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.2);

box-shadow: 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.2);"


comments powered by Disqus