Brian Weeden, from The Space Review, has written up a fairly well thought-out and long story about the May 2013 launch of a “sounding rocket” (according to the Chinese) from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The story, posted on 17 March 2014, gives some pretty good reasons to suspect that perhaps the Chinese were not telling the truth about their launch last year. Perhaps it was the launch of a “new” kind of antisatellite (ASAT) weapon–one that might be able to target and destroy satellites in higher orbits, such as the geosynchronous and highly elliptically orbiting satellites.
The post isn’t all about the Chinese ASAT launch, though. There’s a good history of ASAT technology, starting with the American programs, then going on to the Soviet ones. Some of the Chinese Operationally Responsive Space has also been brought up, as well as how that might play out in a combat scenario. There’s also the question of just how effective the Chinese ASAT threat is, and the author explores that question a bit.
The Chinese have been accomplishing some interesting things in space, including robotic grappling satellites that may be able to take out nearby satellites, training space operators for poorer countries, and their capstone of last year, the moon shot and activation of Jade Rabbit. Brian Weeden’s post about China’s ASAT activities is a nice, thoughtful piece. More of his asking the “whys” of the scenarios and not crying “space wolf” as others have done. Worth a read, if only to learn some of the ASAT history.