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China Has Grappling Satellite, Says US General

China has a grappling satellite which can grab a satellite with a robotic arm and disable it, said US Space Command commander General James Dickinson in a submission to  Congress earlier this week.

“Beijing actively seeks space superiority through space and space attack systems,” Dickinson told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “one notable object is the Shijian-17, a Chinese satellite with a robotic arm.”

Shijian-17 (pictured) could, said Dickinson, “be used in a future system for grappling other satellites. China also has multiple ground-based laser systems of varying power levels that could blind or damage satellite systems.”

Dickinson warned that China is developing “a broad complement of jamming and cyberspace capabilities, directed energy weapons, on-orbit capabilities, and ground-based antisatellite missiles.”

Maine Senator Angus King, stated: “In a conflict, the very first thing that an enemy will try to do is a major cyberattack and to try to blind us.”

Senator King asked whether having a constellation of small satellites, rather than large, multibillion-dollar satellites, would be harder to disable at the beginning of a conflict.

“Small satellites, many satellites in orbit, provides us a resilient capability that would be very difficult to degrade,” responded Dickinson, “whether it’s communications, whether it’s missile warning, those types of activities I think will absolutely be more redundant, more resilient, if we have a what we call a mesh network if you will, in a constellation.”

Space, concluded Dickinson “is absolutely a warfighting domain.”

Source: electronicsweekly

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