China Launching 12992 Satellites to Suppress SpaceX Starlink Will Backfire

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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. China satellites are to directly compete with—and monitor—SpaceX’s Starlink constellations.

China targeting SpaceX Starlink will cause US regulators to rally to SpaceX. The FAA has been delaying some approvals for SpaceX. China will cause the US government to boost support for SpaceX and accelerate approvals. SpaceX will get accelerated approvals for Super Heavy Starship and for complete Gen 2 and Gen 3 Starlink satellites.

Researchers at the People’s Liberation Army’s Space Engineering University in Beijing involved with the China Satellite Network Group Co are hoping, according to the South China Morning Post, to “ensure that our country has a place in low orbit and prevent the Starlink constellation from excessively pre-empting low-orbit resources” and “gain opportunities and advantages at other orbital altitudes, and even suppress Starlink.”

The China Satellite Network Group Co has also made claims about wanting to be able to track, and even disable, Starlink satellites with their own constellations. Researchers with the group have expressed concern about Starlink satellites’ maneuverability, and claim that ability might be used to target and destroy other objects in space.

China matched SpaceX launches in 2022 with both launching 61 times. However, SpaceX launched more mass to orbit and SpaceX is tripling its launch mass in 2023. China could ramp up space spending to launch 13,000 satellites by the end of 2024. Under normal circumstances it would take until about 2026 for China to perform a mass production of new satellites and an increase in rocket production.

SpaceX has nearly 4000 Starlink satellites already and is launching about 5,000 more satellites in 2023.

If SpaceX successfully gets the fully Reusable Super Heavy Starship flying then SpaceX will be able to increase its launch rate and mass to orbit by 10 to 1000 times.

If SpaceX gets full US government support then they could get expedited approvals for Gen 2, Gen 3 and Gen 4 satellites. SpaceX stepping up to 100,000 or 1 million Starlink satellites would not be matched by China until China gets fully reusable rockets.

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