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China establishes a towing service in space

The number of satellites in space has increased massively in recent years. This made numerous exciting applications possible in the first place – from satellite internet to the digitization of agriculture. However, the term of the technology is also limited in space. However, satellites that no longer function cannot simply return to earth and be recycled there. Instead, they were simply left in space for a long time. However, this is not without problems. Because the amount of space debris is now so large that even in the supposedly endless expanses of space, the risk of collisions has increased sharply. This can lead to serious damage to satellites that are actually still functioning. Space debris also poses a threat to manned space missions. Startups and space organizations are therefore working on solutions to get defective satellites out of the danger zone. China was able to report an important breakthrough here.

The satellite was launched into an orbit 3,000 kilometers higher

Specifically, it is about the Chinese satellite Beidou-2 G2. This was shot into space in 2009 and was supposed to be used to set up a satellite navigation system. However, there were technical problems and the construction did not remain in its planned position. The satellite was therefore never put into operation and ended up as space junk quite early on. At the end of last year, the Shijian 21 satellite was used to ensure order in space. In December, Shijian 21 successfully docked with Beidou-2 G2. In January, the turbo was ignited and the defective satellite was transported to an orbit about 3,000 kilometers higher. The broken technology no longer poses a danger there. The towing satellite then returned to geostationary orbit. China is only the second nation after the United States to be able to transport space junk to a so-called graveyard orbit. This represents a great success for the ambitious space nation.

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Was the Chinese military involved in the experiments?

However, the Chinese government surrounded the project with unusual secrecy. The maneuver was not officially announced, but observed by the special company Exoanalytic. It is therefore unclear, for example, why the defective satellite was transported directly into an orbit 3,000 kilometers higher. Actually, around 300 kilometers are enough to get the technology out of the danger zone. In addition, Shijian 21 first approached various other objects before the actual maneuver. Here, too, the background is still unknown. US media interpret this reticence in terms of information policy as an indication that the Chinese military could be involved in the experiments. However, the Chinese government did not want to officially confirm this. She only spoke of a contribution to reducing space debris. How often China would like to carry out such and similar maneuvers in the future has not been communicated.

Via: Space News

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