A Long March-7 carrier rocket lifts off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, south China's Hainan Province, June 25, 2016. [Photo: Xinhua/Li Gang]
South China Morning Post: Is China militarising space? Experts say new junk collector could be used as anti-satellite weapon
Craft could be used to attack satellites, according to some researchers
A small spacecraft sent into orbit by the Long March 7 rocket launched from Hainan in southern China on Saturday is tasked with cleaning up space junk, according to the government, but some analysts claim it may serve a military purpose.
The Aolong-1, or Roaming Dragon, is equipped with a robotic arm to remove large debris such as old satellites.
Tang Yagang, a senior satellite scientist with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, said the Aolong-1 was the first in a series of craft that would be tasked with collecting man-made debris in space.
For instance, it could collect a defunct Chinese satellite and bring it back to earth, crashing it safely into the ocean, he said.
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Previous Post: The Growing Problem Of Chinese Space Junk (September 19, 2013)
WNU Editor: I am sceptical of the Chinese claiming that they are interested in cleaning up space junk. After-all .... their anti-satellite missile test of 2007 resulted in the the largest recorded creation of space debris in history with at least 2,317 pieces of trackable size (golf ball size and larger) and an estimated 150,000 debris particles. It was this debris that destroyed a Russian satellite in 2013 .... and well as giving a few close calls to the International Space Station.