Revealing China’s Satellite Killer (2007)

Aviation Week’s revelation that China had tested an anti-satellite (Asat) weapon, destroying one of its own aging weather satellites orbiting 537 mi. above Earth, created quite a sensation. And it made China a pariah among spacefaring nations for instantly and drastically increasing the mass of dangerous space junk in orbit. Longtime space technology editor Craig Covault broke the story on AviationWeek.com on Jan. 17, 2007, six days after the test, and it was quickly confirmed by the White House. 

In a detailed analysis in the magazine that followed, he noted that China’s successful test of an Asat weapon “means that the country has mastered key space senor, tracking and other technologies for advancing military space operations. China can also now use ‘space control’ as a policy weapon.” The story opened a global debate on Asats – and especially Chinese Asats – that continues to this day.

Read original story from the Jan. 22, 2007 edition of Aviation Week.

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