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China to launch satellite network in order to suppress Starlink

Feb 27, 2023


Researchers say China plans to build a huge satellite network in near-Earth orbit to provide internet services to users around the world — and to stifle Elon Musk’s Starlink. The project has the code name “GW,” according to a team led by associate professor Xu Can with the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Space Engineering University in Beijing. But what these letters stand for is unclear.

The GW constellation will include 12,992 satellites owned by the newly established China Satellite Network Group Co, Xu and his colleagues said in a paper about anti-Starlink measures published in the Chinese journal Command Control and Simulation on Feb. 15. The launch schedule for these satellites remains unknown, but the number would rival the scale of SpaceX’s planned network of more than 12,000 satellites by 2027.

Xu’s team said the GW satellite constellation was likely to be deployed quickly “before the completion of Starlink.” This would “ensure that our country has a place in low orbit and prevent the Starlink constellation from excessively pre-empting low-orbit resources,” they wrote.

The Chinese satellites could also be placed in “orbits where the Starlink constellation has not yet reached,” the researchers said, adding that they would “gain opportunities and advantages at other orbital altitudes, and even suppress Starlink.” The Chinese satellites could be equipped with an anti-Starlink payload to carry out various missions, such as conducting “close-range, long-term surveillance of Starlink satellites,” they said.

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