China’s Mystery Accessory

  1. Space vehicle
  2. Summary
    1. Space Force Detects Mystery Object in Orbit Alongside Chinese Satellite
    1. China’s space junk collector, the Shijian-21 spacecraft, has an orbital companion
    1. It was reported that the spacecraft entered the orbit on October 23rd and will be used for testing their methods of debris removal.
    1. U.S. Space Force believes the companion they discovered is an apogee kick motor, despite the fact that apogee kick motors typically are discarded once they leave the spacecraft.  The current companion has a deliberate distance synchronization, so over time the distance is not increasing or decreasing.
    1. Other experts disagree with the U.S. Space Force.  Previously China executed spoofing and jamming attacks through the use of synchronous space utilities.  These experts believe that the unknown accessory is some technology related to counterspace operations.
  3. Potential Attacks
    1. If it is a synchronous attack, this would become a potential adversary nation-state situation and hold implications on other nations’ space communication and could be used to interrupt transmissions or steal data.
    1. The objects could also be displaying a means to tag along to a space vehicle with no prior input.  This would then open the door to a ‘space tagger’ which could follow closely to other satellites and continuously interrupt communication or perform DOS attacks.
  4. Impact
    1. This should be an alert to all countries that measures against constant communication interference needs to be developed.  Additionally, ways to cover a space asset’s tracks, or ensure they are not predictable, are important for clandestine operations.