ASSESSMENTS

A Test of China's True Intentions in Space

MIN READJul 6, 2016 | 09:00 GMT

A Test of China's True Intentions in Space
A space debris collection system recently launched by China could help reduce the some 500,000 pieces of orbital junk around Earth. It could also conceivably double as an anti-satellite weapon.

(ESA)

Beijing is in the process of modernizing and enhancing its space launch capabilities. During the week of June 27, China carried out the inaugural launch of its Long March 7 system, part of a new generation of rocket systems that include the Long March 5 and Long March 6. The Long March 7, using the most powerful rocket ever built in China, will be the workhorse of the nation's future space missions, eventually carrying taikonauts and supplies into orbit for its planned space station. Though the launch was a notable achievement, the secondary payload it carried -- the Aolong-1 or "Roaming Dragon," a small satellite designed to collect space debris with a robotic arm -- has stirred up familiar speculation about the true nature of China's space program. ...

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