A group of researchers in China have published a study listing “soft and hard kill methods” of cutting off Starlink satellite connections.
The South China Morning Post writes that the report was written by researchers in the Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications and other organizations that protect China.
Published on China Military Online, concerns of the satellites being used to aid the U.S. military was the reason listed in the study. It claims that SpaceX wants to use Starlink “for military purposes” and that Starlink has worked with the U.S. military on satellite connection to military aircraft and data transmission.
Starlink has aided in the U.S. military before. Newsweek writes that a Federal Communications Commission filing made in March detailed tests of information being sent and received on the ground and via aircraft. They also tested Starlink in February to “provide tactical network speeds of up to 70 megabits per second” which reduced the normal lag time of military satellites.
As for the details of “soft and hard kill methods” of disabling Starlink’s satellites, there is not a lot. However, the researchers suggested that the solutions should be “low-cost, high-efficiency” and that they are worried about the 4,200 satellites as a whole rather than one or two of them. Newsweek suggests that lasers, and microwaves could be of use.
So where did this talk of destroying Starlink satellites come from? Why is there an interest in one facet of U.S. military performance?
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Starlink satellites have given aid to Ukraine by enhancing government communication, internet access, help companies stay afloat, and drone attack performance. This outreach has led to Elon Musk being threatened by Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos. In a supposed statement given to the Russian media, Rogozin stated,” Elon, you will be held accountable like an adult—no matter how much you’ll play the fool.” Musk then joked that he will “die under mysterious circumstances”
If I die under mysterious circumstances, it’s been nice knowin ya
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2022
Along with Russia’s attempt to take back Ukraine, recent comments made by President Joe Biden increased tensions between Taiwan and China. During the week, Biden told reporters that the U.S would keep their promise to help defend Taiwan against China. Though Biden’s statement was later walked back by Washington, the Chinese were quick to respond. CNN writes that Chinese officials made aggressive comments like, “Those who play with fire will certainly burn themselves,” and military drills near Taiwan began.
The performance of Starlink satellites on the battlefield has undoubtedly left an impression on China. What started as a tool to benefit humanity by giving basic internet access to remote areas has become a tool to enhance military performance. Could this continue to the U.S. military? Would it be for the better or for the worst?