back to article Beijing needs the ability to 'destroy' Starlink, say Chinese researchers

An egghead at the Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications, writing in a peer-reviewed domestic journal, has advocated for Chinese military capability to take out Starlink satellites on the grounds of national security. According to the South China Morning Post, lead author Ren Yuanzhen and colleagues advocated in …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >Unfortunately for the researchers, with 2,400 satellites in orbit, taking out Starlink would be quite difficult to accomplish as the system is extensive enough to continue working even with some satellites missing.

    Except for the fact the system is almost entirely dependent on a pretty modest number of static ground stations, and for the more important fact that due to lack of serious polar coverage the system is militarily near-useless. This is a PR piece masquerading as a research paper.

    1. vekkq

      what's the polar coverage for?

      1. Andy Non Silver badge
        Linux

        Penguinistas

        Of course. :-)

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: Penguinistas

          Well played, sir

      2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        ICBM tracking. Essential for US vs USSR conflict. Still important for US vs China, but not as much.

        1. HobartTas

          Why is this as the USA's nuclear ICBM's have been using inertial tracking with accelerometers since the 1950's and presumably they are still using them today.

          1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

            Tracking the missiles, not the targets...

      3. Persona Silver badge

        Connectivity for people who live in the north of Scotland or Canada etc.

      4. GraXXoR

        To keep track of the laser penguins that protect the earth's southern boundary wall from attack and potential oceanic leakage if wall is breached.

    2. localzuk Silver badge

      The system can use ground stations anywhere in the world. There's lots of them to spread the load, and give local connectivity (eg. you want a UK connection to use a UK base station).

      So, satellites over China could use base stations in the USA without any real issue. You just get more latency.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Even with satellite-to-satellite links, you can conceptualise the aggregate throughput of the starlink network as the sum of the throughput to its available ground stations. The point is you don't need a mechanism to blow up or disable thousands of LEO satellites to compromise the constellation, you need a mechanism to blow up or disable at most a few hundred very-much-civilian and very-well-mapped ground stations. Or the network links they depend on, or the google bit barns they're connected to and so on and so on.

        This is a capability that already exists in many forms, and effectively guarantees that were things to get a bit warry Starlink would have no more strategic significance than any of the other SATCOM systems already in use.

        Or in the simplest terms the Chinese don't really need a new ability to destroy Starlink, because they already have half a dozen choices in how they could do it.

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          While this is true, attacking a single ground station in another country's territory is likely to come with some rather severe political ramifications, and that's putting it mildly. This is likely the reason why Russia hasn't targeted ground stations for Starlink in Poland (which is where most of Ukraine's traffic is currently being routed).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Attacking a ground station and blowing up a satellite on orbit are both serious acts of aggression, likely to warrant similar levels of response. Hence the point that if a war broke out where the Chinese deemed it necessary to destroy American property in space, they'd not hesitate to do the much easier, simpler and cheaper job of blowing it up on land first.

            Especially given degrading Starlink would not in any way impact any of the other numerous satellite-based communication systems actually used by the US armed forces and their allies.

            1. Alumoi Silver badge

              Unless said satellite belongs to a private citizen as opposed to a nation state. I don't think the US is going to down a few Chinese satellites if China unintentionally on purpose knocks off a couple of starlinks.

            2. ITMA Bronze badge

              Ah... but....

              "Especially given degrading Starlink would not in any way impact any of the other numerous satellite-based communication systems actually used by the US armed forces and their allies"

              Unless the primary objective is not in itself to take out Starlink, but (depending upon orbits) to "weaponise" it as kinetic debris:

              As outlined in the book by Lnida Dawson "Space Debris as a Weapon"

              https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-93052-7_4

              1. My-Handle Silver badge

                Re: Ah... but....

                Wouldn't be effective with Starlink. Most of it's satellites are in a very low orbit - without station-keeping, they fall back in to the atmosphere in a few years. Exploding them would likely increase drag significantly, causing the debris to enter sooner. Also, because of the orbit, their debris is only likely to pose a threat to other Starlink sats (and possibly the ISS). It is faintly possible that debris would be kicked up into a higher orbit and pose a threat to other LEO sats, but this would be extremely unpredictable. China has it's own assets up there which may well be at risk.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "While this is true, attacking a single ground station in another country's territory is likely to come with some rather severe political ramifications,"

            "Attacking a ground station" makes it sound like major artillery is going to be used rather than wire cutters and a spray bottle of vinegar. Who's to say that it wasn't just some metal thieves looking to acquire some copper or vandals.

        2. Pascal

          Once starlink v2 satellites (the ones with satellite-to-satellite comms) are widespread, the obvious US Military application would be to strike a deal with Starlink to piggyback on the network without using Starlink ground station. Plane-to-Carrier, Boat-to-Boat, Drone-to-Drone or whatever they fancy.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "blow up or disable at most a few hundred very-much-civilian and very-well-mapped ground stations."

          Well, true, but at that point it really doesn't matter. WW3 has already started once that level of attack is in progress.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "So, satellites over China could use base stations in the USA without any real issue. You just get more latency."

        Latency isn't the issue, it's line of sight. Only some of the newest Starlink satellites have laser side linking to hand data off for relay to the ground. That could make interfering with the satellites easier if a way is found to jam the laser receiver.

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Polar coverge

      Starlink shell 4 is at 97.6° inclination. When full it will provide polar coverage. I think there are few few satellites in shell 4 already but lower inclinations are getting priority because of population density. If the US DoD hands Elon a crate of money I am sure shell 4 will become a priority.

    4. Peter2 Silver badge

      I'd fundamentally disagree. Starlink is militarily exceptionally useful on any number of different levels. For instance, there are a number of videos floating around of people driving around in civilian vehicles in Ukraine streaming with a smartphone.

      From an intelligence point of view for recon purposes that's huge. Up until now if you were out on recon then you snuck in somewhere, wrote down or memorised important things that you saw (all of which the person had to be trained to do, because the significance of what you see may not be obvious) and then tried to sneak back to your army with the information. By the time it got to the people needing it the information may have been obsolete. If the person gathering the intel got killed before they came back, then no intel makes it back.

      Now, the people who need to know can be watching as the information is being gathered. If the person gathering the intel gets killed before they get back then the intel has already made it back, and can be replayed at will. Entire legions of specialist intelligence analysts on the far side of the planet can watch in real time, getting far more from the information than one person could ever conceivably manage.

      Now you'd think this could be disrupted by blowing away a cellphone tower. Which sort of works, up until somebody starts running a starlink service from a car lighter socket and connects their phone to it via wifi. And that's just the most basic use going; which is far from the full possibilities which have included fundamentally breaking Russia's attempts to impose information control on the Ukrainian population by bombing their infrastructure and breaking internet connections etc and so denying them access to anything other than Russia's propaganda in Ukraine. Starlink and a generator has been used to to put cell towers back online that have had their power and internet backbone destroyed. Obviously there is a performance penalty to pay there, but a percentage of something is better than 100% of nothing...

      The bit about giving a population access to other sources of information in the face of government censorship in particular is probably causing high up people in China to stay awake at night; it potentially renders the Great Firewall of China useless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That is militarily significant in the semi-symmetric warfare that has resulted from Russia's illegal acts of aggression in Ukraine, but only because Russia are unwilling to strike beyond Ukraine's borders where the ground infrastructure for Starlink is hosted and where the base stations are being sourced from. In a conflict between the United States and China where space infrastructure is deemed fair game there would be no such limitation.

        >From an intelligence point of view for recon purposes that's huge. Up until now if you were out on recon then you snuck in somewhere, wrote down or memorised important things that you saw (all of which the person had to be trained to do, because the significance of what you see may not be obvious) and then tried to sneak back to your army with the information.

        This is just patent nonsense. Do you really think this is how military reconnaissance is done? No satellites, no planes, no drones, not even any radios? Just a couple of lads with some binoculars, a pen and paper and hoping you make it back to the lines? Give over.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          This is just patent nonsense. Do you really think this is how military reconnaissance is done? No satellites, no planes, no drones, not even any radios? Just a couple of lads with some binoculars, a pen and paper and hoping you make it back to the lines? Give over.

          It's certainly how it was done for the last fifty thousand or so years at both tactical and strategic levels. Whilst today strategically certain people probably do have access to satellite photos, on a tactical level the blokes blowing up the tanks are quite unlikely to have direct access to satellite intel.

          With the weight of decent long distance radios for infantry they were originally limited to one radio operator to a moderately large formation, with other people feeding back information to them. This is still the case with the currently fielded Bowman system, troops get a short range (practically line of sight) VHF system with a long range UHF system being held by the command element so it's certainly still the case that somebody radioing information is going to be doing it to the squad, not to HQ and you run the risk of Chinese whispers when relaying which isn't present with a video stream that HQ and intel analysts can watch.

          The Ukrainians have been using people streaming with smartphones from cars apparently quite successfully and you can watch the videos floating around, probably because in a total war (which this effectively is from the Ukrainian POV) when you have conscripted 10+ million men then doing this is a militarily effective use of untrained manpower, which when you don't have weapons for, let alone planes, drones or radios.

          It's another unexpected use and implication of readily available commercial off the shelf technology. Less useful than drones in many ways, but it turns things upside down in a similar way.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            This is tip-top walty nonsense writ large.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge
              Happy

              May I congratulate you on your superior debating skills, and commend your point by point rebuttal displaying a high level understanding of the subject?

              Or alternately it might just be an "Argumentum ad hominem" from an Anonymous Coward who knows that he's lost the argument. ;)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Angel

            > The Ukrainians have been using people streaming with smartphones from cars apparently quite successfully [ ... ]

            Let's consider the possibility that a US Marine recon or US Navy SEAL gathering intel behind enemy lines might be equipped with an electronic device sporting a high-resolution or night vision camera that can transmit an encrypted feed in real-time via SATCOM.

            I am quite certain that they don't use a $2 notepad and a pencil to jot down shorthand descriptions of what they see.

            Brown chicken at 1000. Cackling. Friendly unknown.

            1. Boolian

              The Cat

              "Brown chicken at 1000. Cackling. Friendly unknown"

              Now that reminded me of "Sniping in France"

              The above is precisely the type of detail which would have been jotted down - on one occasion, to great effect.

              'Time 11.25 Ac.Emma.

              Cat (tortoiseshell) at K 22.35.45.

              Action taken : None.'

              Thanks for the reminder, I must have a read through it again. There are many books on sniping, but for me nothing beats "Sniping in France (with notes on the scientific training of scouts, observers, and snipers)"

              Maj. Hesketh Vernon Hesketh-Prichard (1920)

              I doubt British military rear echelon has changed much - our troops probably wouldn't get to use Starlink in the field if needed, because 'there isn't a department, or commission to handle that sort of thing old chap'

              Out of copyright so a free ebook many places - highly recommended.

              https://openlibrary.org/works/OL7731796W/Sniping_in_France

            2. phuzz Silver badge

              I'm going to guess that whatever the US special forces use is probably bloody expensive. Starlink+cellphone gives the Ukrainians some of the capabilities at a far lower cost, so they can equip far more people with it.

              As Stalin may have said; "Quantity has a quality all of it's own".

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          I don't think starlink is a good tool for recon but I think you're overestimating the sophistication of recon methods.

          When it comes to in the field reconnaissance, yes, that's exactly how the specialized recon groups work. You just can't get the same intel from satellites (since they only show a momentary glimpse from a top down view and can't see what's under things like overpasses or properly hidden under camo nets, leaving you guestimating from things like tire threads, amount of foliage squashed, approximated amount of troops deployed etc. It's a hell of a lot more than nothing, but it's not perfect. Planes can often simply not fly over disputed terrain. Even the grand old lady herself (U-2) can be shot down from the edge of space by advanced AA and most planes have similar issues to satellites. It's only top down views from high altitude. Or alternatively low altitude high speed passes at highly irregular intervals and times.

          Recon troops can linger and stay hidden in areas of interest for a longer time. They can establish patterns. Who's in charge, where's the HQ, how much ammo is there, how's the logistics set up, what units are in the area, what units are supporting them, etc, etc. Use of radios is also severely limited. Keep in mind these recon units operate deep within enemy territory and nowadays radio scanning equipment is pretty compact and widespread. Any use of a radio outside the expected range and band or location of the local troops is immediately noticed and using direction and range finding equipment a source can be located, probably with less than desirable outcome for the recon troops. I doubt a starlink system is that much safer than an ordinary radio however but it does have the advantage of being highly directional, so probably much less likely to give a position away.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I'm sorry but this, as with the other chap, has little grounding in actual reality. The descriptions here of U2s and direct-overflight satellites and high-speed/low-altitude passes and chaps hanging out in the mud keeping notes on the guys with the brass on their heads bear no resemblance to reconnaissance or ISTAR more broadly, nor has it done for decades (if ever). You are severely, significantly underestimating how much information a modern western force generates on its adversaries, and surprisingly little of it requires anyone to be anywhere near the business end of things.

            On Starlink specifically: Individual warfighters can and these days are routinely equipped with individual-level, high-bandwidth, secure BVR communications. There's nothing special about Starlink in this regard - western militaries have had comparable capabilities since day dot in satellite terms. Hence why removing Starlink would have little impact on their ability to fight - they're not using it, and likely won't ever use it for anything important.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "There's nothing special about Starlink in this regard - western militaries have had comparable capabilities since day dot in satellite terms"

              Starlink creates an internet node. I haven't seen any discussion about its use in peer to peer ad hoc connections. I expect that those capabilities would be a bit too fancy unless Elon has secret military contracts. I would think adding those features would radically increase the price of the satellites and make them national security items of special interest requiring extra security.

            2. Grinning Bandicoot

              SCUD hunt

              Question: What were those special force types crawling around the Iraqi hinterlands looking SCUDS on mobile launcher when the Allied side had complete control of the air. A good present example is Hainan Island and the PLAN facility and the tunnels capable of taking ships; what space borne system works on reinforced concrete and earth. Just as there will always be a Bond sequel a need for local eyes on the ground will exist. (And they had a back pack size satcom system in the US Military since the 90s (eye ball check) so earlier likely.

        3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          After an EMP attack

          Not a lot of fancy electronics will be operational. Bins, pen and paper (plus Semaphore flags) is about all that is left that will work.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "watching as the information is being gathered."

        That's been possible for quite a few years now, long before Starlink and similar was planned for. IIRC, the first sat phones for civilian use were made available around the end of the 1990's. Military use certainly predates that, probably by a significant margin. ISTR reports of military operations being planned around when satellites could be overhead.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fuck me, like satellite phones/internet weren't available before Starlink.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Alien

          re: hones/internet weren't available before Starlink

          But.... Lord Elon invented the Internet.... didn't you get the memo /s /s /s

          1. DubyaG
            Joke

            Re: re: hones/internet weren't available before Starlink

            Wrong, that was Al Gore

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: re: hones/internet weren't available before Starlink

            "But.... Lord Elon invented the Internet.... didn't you get the memo /s /s /s"

            Here we go again with the false news. Elon didn't "invent" the internet, he was one of the original founders and has done the most to popularize the system. /S!

    5. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Attacking a facility in another (presumably neutral) country is an 'act of war'. Depending who they attacked they might face an more powerful alliance than they bargained for; an alliance that once fully deployed could trash the Chinese military rather quickly.

      Also, attacking another country would be long-term economic suicide for China. Moving manufacturing will not be cheap or easy short term but long term is probably necessary to stabilize worldwide supply chains.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Given the Starlink constellation is owned and operated by a US firm, which "more powerful alliance than they bargained for" did you have in mind? An attack on a Starlink sat, or any significant sovereign US asset, would trigger NATO Article 5.

        1. corbpm

          Well it would trigger a long discussion about NATO article 5 and whether it was deliberate or a "accidental" destruction.

          Then they would decide it actually spontaneously destroyed itself and pay reparations to Russia and China for the debris damaging their missile.

          Or maybe that's the impression I get from listening to Boris Johnson on any subject, but maybe they won't ask him.

        2. Alumoi Silver badge

          Suure!

          Article 5

          “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

          Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”

          This article is complemented by Article 6, which stipulates:

          “For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:

          on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France 2, on the territory of Turkey or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;

          on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.”

          1. Jason Bloomberg

            "such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force"

            Which means it may be armed force or could well be "meh" and nothing.

            The limitations of Article 5 were revealed when it was invoked after 9-11, when some chose to storm into Afghanistan with guns blazing, others committed to far less.

            Joining NATO and Article 5 applying doesn't guarantee someone else's army dropping in to help you out. Something Finland,Sweden and others may one day discover.

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "An attack on a Starlink sat, or any significant sovereign US asset, would trigger NATO Article 5."

          Are you sure? Elon is know for telling people to blow him on a regular basis aside from negative comments directed towards China. Hmmmmmmm. I'm not so sure that any of his insult targets are going to put themselves out on his behalf.

  2. vekkq

    Gotta fight satellites with satellites here. Could be the next arms race. Fingers not crossed.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Fingers crossed when they are all up it won't look like there is a sawrm of flies in the sky

      1. Tim Hines

        I do not think I'll ever see,

        A satellite as lovely as a star.

        Indeed, unless the satellites fall,

        I'll never see a star at all.

        Apologies to Ogden Nash....

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Flame

      Gotta fight satellites with satellites here

      I'm imagining some Chinese air force bunker - with an old Atari console and joystick linked to a massive wall covering screen. Using Asteroids as the user interface for a Chinese anti-Starlink satellite.

      Trusting in the power of 18 year old gamer recruits, energy drinks and junk food.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "I'm imagining some Chinese air force bunker - with an old Atari console and joystick linked to a massive wall covering screen. Using Asteroids as the user interface for a Chinese anti-Starlink satellite."

        Ender's game?

    3. Someone Else Silver badge

      <announcer-voice>Sounds like a job for <reverb>the U.S. Space Farce...er...Force!</reverb></announcer-voice>

  3. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

    The idea of a "Musk machine" sounds horrible, however you might interpret it.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge
  4. b0llchit Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The flow of funding

    This means China will need upgraded surveillance systems to detect the fakes and, according to Ren, the ability to intercept Starlink signals to look for threats.

    Translation: We need lots and lots of money to use on scenario development and (overly expensive shoddy) tech to accomplish our mission which we know exists.

    Also, we have our own constellation and really would like to kill the competition. We need more buckets of research money to make plans to kill the competition.

    Of course we help our military, of course, for an additional fee and additional gold plated buckets.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The flow of funding

      How unlike the defense establishment of our own free democratic capitalist society

      1. b0llchit Silver badge

        Re: The flow of funding

        There is no difference between countries and people when it comes down to money. Especially when excessive amounts are distributed, like in the military domain. Then it is just a requirement to know somebody who knows somebody who knows and knows who to know to know and knows...

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: The flow of funding

          But our response is based on a carefully calculated consideration of a possible threat made by sober democratically elected politicians chosen by an informed populace - not a jingoistic knee jerk reaction to some easily demonised foreigners and an appeal to our sovereign skies

          1. First Light Silver badge

            Re: The flow of funding

            How sober are Boris, Liz and the gang?

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Re: The flow of funding

              Passed out on the sofa over the Red Box, while Boris staggers to the fridge for some cheese.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The flow of funding

      Its going to get REALLY crowded up there if China launches a satellite to watch every Starlink satellite .

      So for the cut price rate of 2Trillion per satellite we can create 1 that's worth 5 of theirs, just send us a pot of research money because we haven't actually designed it yet, but firmly believe in our 1/25 satellite ratio (probably) 1/45.

      20Trillion research grant should cover it, p.s our Lab is in Beijing.

      Anonymous because i don't want to upset any pork barrel manufacturers, who are more dangerous than Russia, China or Boris.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like all totalitarian regemes

    China thinks that anything on or around the planet that is not under tight control of the CCP is a threat.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Like all totalitarian regemes

      And who created "space force"?

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Like all totalitarian regemes

        Donald Trump. [see icon]

        Next question?

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Like all totalitarian regemes

        >And who created "space force"?

        Gerry Anderson ?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Like all totalitarian regemes

          Wasn't it Charles Chilton? Writer (and producer) of Journey Into Space for the BBC in the mid-50s. Which a quick look-up is (at least according the Wikipedia) the last evening radio show to get bigger audiences than TV. Jet Morgan launches on his Space Force ship from Australia to go and sort out some nasty aliens on Mars.

          He was also the producer for a bunch of The Goon Show episodes.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Like all totalitarian regemes

            Jet Morgan was a bit thick though. Walked right into a lot of obvious traps.

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Like all totalitarian regemes

      Well, it is. (To them!)

      Historically it's been possible to get away with lying very easily. Just look at Russia; there is a massive difference in opinions between the younger types who have smartphones (& VPN's to dodge the great firewall of Russia) and the older generations in Russia who get all of their news from broadcast media controlled by the state.

      It's getting progressively harder for a small minority to control information going to the majority of the population. Starlink holds the threat of bypassing the great firewall of China and making it completely pointless, which I suspect the CCP would see as something more than a trivial potential threat.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Like all totalitarian regemes

        Russia's great firewall isn't very good - and they've barely done much to control the internet until recently. Wheras China have been pouring resources into their Great Firewall for a couple of decades now - and it's a hell of a lot more effective. Although not totally. But cheap satellite internet would completely destroy that effort.

        Although I don't know how easy it would be to just jam the signals. I don't know what else that would interfere with.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Like all totalitarian regemes

          Cheap satellite internet that's illegal to own and operate.

          Anti-Chinese technology some might say as they escort you to a re-education camp to learn about why.

          Of course if your guilty, you will already know why because you've seen what re-education means and at this point you'll be wishing for a quick death.

          Anonymous because I have seen things, and am scared of the dark.

  6. deevee

    Makes sense that they can shoot down or disable any satellite that crosses above Chinese territory.

    The US would want to have exactly the same ability.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Are you saying they don't have it?

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    wolf in sheeps clothing

    > military payloads to be disguised as Starlink machines and sent into orbit undetected.

    This provides the obvious excuse for disabling satellites. Whether it is true or not, it could not be proved one way or another.

    Though with SpaceX currently launching on pretty much a weekly basis I reckon the replacement rate for disabled satellites would be almost as high as the takedown rate.

    (especially if many of those replacements were cheap and non-functioning decoys)

    And then there is the question of "stealthing" satellites ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: wolf in sheeps clothing

      "And then there is the question of "stealthing" satellites ..."

      I'm sure astronomers would be very pleased by anybody who came up with a way to stealth starlink satellites! :)

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: wolf in sheeps clothing

        "I'm sure astronomers would be very pleased by anybody who came up with a way to stealth starlink satellites! :)"

        SpaceX tried to paint the satellites and that just led to thermal problems. It's strange to think, but getting rid of heat in space is a big problem when most people think it's deathly cold.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Pete 2 - Re: wolf in sheeps clothing

      Actually, the truth is the first victim of a war.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

        Surely the first victim of war is usually the poor border guards - standing by their stripey poles as a column of tanks suddenly approaches?

        Unless you were fighting the old Imperial Japan. In which case their declaration of war was delivered to your fleet, in harbour. Then the embassy would handle the niceties a few hours later. Although admittedly in the case of Pearl Harbour that was by mistake rather than design and the embassy were supposed to give a few minutes warning.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

          The embassy's orders were to deliver the message precisely one hour prior to the strike, per the Geneva conventions. Unfortunately, they had prior orders to destroy all but one of their machines, and that machine experienced mechanical difficulties.

          It did not matter. We had broken their code. FDR had the message from the Signal Corp hours before. They speculated that the attack would come in Indonesia.

          1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

            Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

            Russia still has not delivered a declaration of war despite it lasting 3 months already.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

              Sorry buddy, it's not war, it's a police action. No, strike that, it's an extended military combat that was authorized by Congress/UN. No, not even that. It's a military intervention (like the one in Grenada).

              Ahhh, damn it, that was done by the good guys, so it's not war

            2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

              Russia still has not delivered a declaration of war despite it lasting 3 months already.

              Formal declarations of war have fallen out of favour for various reasons.

              The reason that Pearl Harbour was considered a day of infamy was that Japan hadn't given some kind of formal last warning and were still in negotiations with the US. Plus of course, they attacked us.

              In the case of the Falkland Islands conflict (note not war), again Argentina were in negotiations over sovereignty and then launched a surprise attack. Whereas Britain gave them a deadline when if negotiations hadn't achieved them leaving the islands again, we would feel free to do bad things. So they didn't declare war because they were being sneaky. We didn't declare war because we had the limited objective of removing Argentinian forces from the islands and weren't planning to do anything further after that.

              Putin is somewhere in the middle. I'm pretty sure he made a public statement just before the invasion actually happened, so it wasn't a sneak attack. And he'd obviously made threats and attempted to negotiate, though from Russian demands most anaysts I've read believe that the demands were just for show, the decision to have a war had already been made - and the demands were designed to be rejected. They weren't even designed to be a maximalist first offer, to be negotiated down later.

              Obviously the ideal is that country A says to country B - you're doing this thing that annoys me. Stop. Or else! They have a bit of a negotiate, to no effect. So country A says, I'm setting a deadline, and if you've not given me stuff by then - then I really mean "or else"! Which obviously gives country B the chance to back down, knowing country A really means it. After said deadline you then get a declaration of war.

              However war is a bit maximalist and requires a peace to be agreed by both sides. If the objective is limited in some way, you might not want to declare war. Say in the Falkands, we didn't attack Argentina. Or their interests around the world, we simply made an exclusion zone around the Falkands and said we'll kill anything in that and reserve the right to kill anything threatening it. So we did hunt down the Argentinian aircraft carrier, for example, which never even entered the exclusion zone. But we didn't attack Argentinian coastal shipping, or their airbases - from which they were launching attacks on our ships. Also their carrier went back into territorial waters to hide, and the British government ordered the submarine tracking it not to follow, or to attack it while there. So the amount of violence was quite calibrated. The other advantage of not declaring war here being, that once you've recaptured the islands, there's no need for a peace conference, which the Argentinian junta might have refused to take part in. Leaving us in a formal state of war for who knows how long, as North and South Korea are still stuck in - they've only signed a ceasefire.

              Hence the whine above about Grenada. Who would the US and the RSS (Carribbean Regional Security treaty countries) have declared war on? Grenada's legitimate government had been overthrown in a coup - so they were going in to restore it. They did so (it wasn't just the US), and then left. Therefore they couldn't declare war on Grenada - and they didn't recognise the legitimacy of the coup regime, so they would have been declaring war on the very government they recognised and were going in to restore.

              The alternative would be to declare war on Cuba, who had sent troops in to back the new regime. But why do that when you don't want a war with Cuba. Kick their troops out and they'll get the message just as well. And with the old government restored, there's nothing left to fight over.

              1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

                Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

                I believe the exclusion zone around the Falklands was actually not directed at Argentina (we'll kill anything of yours in it), but actually to the world (and with a particular hint to the Soviet Union, should they start poking spyships, ahem, trawlers, into the area), that anything (ship/sub/plane) within the zone might be subjected to attack without warning.

                Effectively, the zone around the islands was now a free fire/live fire zone, and the declaration of the exclusion zone (or declarations - the Total Exclusion Zone followed on an earlier version) was somewhat like the NOTAMs that certain bits of airspace are closed when large military (live-fire) exercises are held.

                In meant that if anyone was stupid enough to (for example) fly an airliner through the zone and it got shot down, responsibility would clearly lie with whatever idiot sent the airline though a declared conflict zone (noting that maritime patrol / reconnaissance aeroplanes, which are clearly fair targets, are often variants of civilian airlines, as was the case for Argentina in 1982).

                1. Dagg

                  Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

                  Effectively, the zone around the islands was now a free fire/live fire zone

                  You mean like schools in America...

        2. WhereAmI?

          Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

          "Unless you were fighting the old Imperial Japan. In which case their declaration of war was delivered to your fleet, in harbour. Then the embassy would handle the niceties a few hours later. Although admittedly in the case of Pearl Harbour that was by mistake rather than design and the embassy were supposed to give a few minutes warning."

          Surprising how many people simply ignore/don't know about that. Even more so that who-ever-it-was in charge on the American side refused to see the Japanese ambassador and the ever-quoted myth that the Japanese attacked without warning got started. They did try to tell the Americans what was incoming but... the Americans weren't listening.

          Cue the downvotes.

          'No plan survives contact with the enemy'.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

            They did try to tell the Americans what was incoming but... the Americans weren't listening.

            WhereAmI?

            I don't think that's true. Although I've never read into the matter, and one of the problems with history is that things change - as more papers come to light and more research is done. So something you once knew, may turn out to have been disproved by later historians.

            But as I understand it, the Japanese embassy were using their most secret codes and restricting who was allowed to see the decoded text, i.e. not using the good, fast typists. And they were still decrypting the telegram from Tokyo when the attack on Pearl Harbour happened - so weren't in a position to go and see the Americans yet. The Japanese ambassador found out about the declaration of war from the attack on Pearl Harbour being announced - because that part of the telegram hadn't been decrypted yet.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

              So something you once knew, may turn out to have been disproved by later historians.

              Or by the winning side. Or by current correctness. Or by the new way of thinking. Or by....

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: @Pete 2 - wolf in sheeps clothing

                It’s called historiography. The study of the study of history.

                My school textbooks in the late 80s and early 90s were written ten to twenty years before. So for example the revisionist view of WWI dominated. So quite a lot of lions led by donkeys type bollocks, but also blaming Germany for starting the war.

                More modern historians are much kinder to the generals, just as historians just after the conflict were. Although I think quite a lot of that was ideological, particularly in the 60s. But Russian info on the causes of the war wasn’t available until Soviet archives opened up in the mid 90s. So modern takes still blame the Germans for planning to conquer large bits of France, and recklessly giving Austria-Hungary unqualified backing. But the Russians were the first to mobilise, and lied about it. Making any attempt to stop the war basically impossible. Information not available outside Russia when I was at university.

  8. renniks

    The Chinese - a great bunch of lads!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apparently, they have the same taste for pork as everyone else.

  9. martinusher Silver badge

    On a more serious note....

    ....don't buy into this Cold War nonsense. "Us" (good) versus "Them" (bad). It is a road to nowhere -- we end up in a sort of hybrid between "1984", "Soylent Green" and "Idiocracy". Hardly the bright, Utopian, future we were promised all those decades ago.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: On a more serious note....

      Robot monkey butlers? With hoverboards?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: On a more serious note....

        I was promised thermonuclear war with the USSR

        Living in Sheffield it was considered an upgrade....

        1. WhereAmI?

          Re: On a more serious note....

          Well, you can always watch 'Threads' and live the destruction of Sheffield vicariously.

          Joking aside, it's a horrific film that every world leader should be forced to watch on a regular basis, just in case they forget what it's about.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: On a more serious note....

            >Well, you can always watch 'Threads' and live the destruction of Sheffield vicariously.

            Famously filmed in Sheffield because they didn't have to do any set dressing to make Attercliffe look like it was nuked.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        Re: On a more serious note....

        Be careful of those monkey butlers. The WHO have just told us that monkeypox is spread by sexual intercourse - and once you start dressing monkeys up in human clothing you're going to tempt even more people to start doing it.

        1. Jim Mitchell
          Gimp

          Re: On a more serious note....

          If we can't have monkey butlers, can we at least get trunk monkeys?

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: On a more serious note....

          My doctor told me that I was at an increased risk of monkeypox. But I think they're getting a bit mutton in their old age - I'd actually made the appointment because for the previous week I'd had an orangey tang in my mouth.

          1. First Light Silver badge

            Re: On a more serious note....

            Whose orangey tang was ui?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: On a more serious note....

              OOK!

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: On a more serious note....

      martinrusher,

      In comparison to the Russian or Chinese governments most governments are good. The Russian and Chinese governments are bad, to put it in simplistic terms.

      I'd be a bit more hesitant about calling us the good guys, because we sometimes do things out of self-interest that aren't good. And we also often talk the talk of being good but don't back it up by our actions. For example we eventually stopped the "genocidal" wars in the former Yugoslavia, but conveniently ignored the much more obvious genocide (on a much larger scale too) happening in Rwanda at the same time. And we're not exactly doing much about China's genocidal policies in Xinjiang either.

      But in terms of a system allowing a population to live broadly freely, with reasonable amounts of legal and economic fairness, governments that respond to their citizens needs and a foreign policy that often does unrewarded good, and doesn't often do bad things to foreigners - we're living in a paradise never achieved before in human history. At least if you're living in a "Western-style" democracy, with liberal/free -ish markets, rule-of-law and other such fripperies.

      1. beast666

        Re: On a more serious note....

        "we're living in a paradise never achieved before in human history."

        You need to wake your ass up.

        1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

          Re: On a more serious note....

          What have somnolent Equi africanus asinus go to do with the price of fish?

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: On a more serious note....

          "we're living in a paradise never achieved before in human history."

          You need to wake your ass up.

          beast666,

          Are you sure it's not you who needs to wake your arse up and take a look at what's actually happening in the world around you?

          Tell me another time in history when:

          Fewer people in the world have been living in absolute poverty

          Modern medicine existed

          More people have had at least some democratic control of their governments

          Global life expectancy has been higher

          More people have been vaccinated (global vaccine rates for things like polio, measles and diptheria are c. 90%)

          Gobal education levels have been higher

          Obviously we've had a big global recession and a pandemic in the last 15 years. We've not put an end to war. Globalisation and global trade have taken a bit of a knock. So it's possible that the actual statistically best time to be alive was somewhere around 2006-7, but I doubt it because the developing world has still had a lot of growth since then.

          1. Alumoi Silver badge

            Re: On a more serious note....

            Gobal education levels have been higher

            You owe me a new keyboard.

            If by education you mean the piece of paper you get after finishing some classes, then yes. If you mean science, culture and the ability to think for yourself, then a big no.

            Idiocracy is not a movie but a dire prediction of humanity.

          2. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

            Re: On a more serious note....

            More people have had at least some democratic control of their governments

            Actually, quite a few formerly sound democracies are being undermined by autocrats, nationalists, populists, call them what you will. Is the good old US of A still a democracy, when a fraud like Trump gets elected, then proceeds to undermine the democracy that put him in power?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: On a more serious note....

        "And we're not exactly doing much about China's genocidal policies in Xinjiang either."

        To be fair, that's a bit of a sticky problem. What they are doing is atrocious, but they have nuclear missiles and are the "workshop of the world". You only have to look at the "issues" generated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ie fuel and food problems for small inkling of what it could be like to sanction China in the same way. China is happy to spend decades, generations, moving towards what it wants. The West works on short term election cycles. The West need to disentangle from China, but it's by necessity a slow process, something the West are poor at.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: On a more serious note....

          The Chinese are killing their own Muslims who don't have oil because they might be an insurgency threat in the future.

          This is totally unacceptable compared to killing Muslims without oil on behalf of the Muslims with oil because they gave a different edition of the fairy tale book

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On a more serious note....

        And yet, the country with the most people in jail is the US (and they're mostly minorities), and the military responsible for the most civilian deaths this century is also the US (with nobody ever found guilty of anything).

        So tbat freedom / rule of law thingy, it's not always obvious how it works.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: On a more serious note....

          and the military responsible for the most civilian deaths this century is also the US

          As they say on that there Wikipedia, citation needed.

          Most of the civillians killed in Iraq after 2003, were killled by other Iraqis. Because it was an Iraqi civil war, as you might expect after a dictatorship has been in power for 40-odd years with one ethnic group (the mostly Sunni tribes of central Iraq) oppressing all the others. A bunch of them invited Al Qaeda in to help rid them of the Americans, and one of the reasons the civil war calmed down is because they realised Al Qaeda were even worse than having their country conquered and actually made a deal with the Americans to help them kick Al Qaeda out. You also had a civil war between some of the Iranian backed bits of the marjority Shia South and Eastern population areas against various of the Sunni tribes but also the US and those from their own Shia areas who didn't fancy being dominated by Iran any more than they liked having the Americans around. It was complicated.

          Rather like Afghanistan, which was a multi-ethnic multi-regional civil ware when the US joined in back in 2001. The Taliban were already starting to lose that war, the Northern Alliance had pushed them back to the outskirts of Kabul already and so it didn't take more than special forces and airstrikes to finish them off. The Taliban having no scruples, and not caring who they killed were as likely to kill their own natural supporters in order to force them not to deal with NATO troops, as they were to kill members of opposing tribes or NATO forces directly. In a rather similar way to the Viet Cong - who terrorirsed the very people they were supposedly trying to liberate.

          Also though, have you actually bothered to check - or just assumed that the US are the bad guys because it's what you see on telly? For example, have you heard of the Second Congo War? OK, it started in 1998, so doesn't quite meet your 21st Century deadline, but it went on until 2003. It killed over 5 million people, and is the bloodiest war since World War II - and it was both vicious and did a lot of targetting of civilians. So there are probably several armies involved in that who top the list.

          Also of course, you're ignoring Syria. Also a complex, multi-regional, multi-ethnic, multi-party civil war. But has killed 500,000 people. Hard to pin the deaths down to one army though, because the Syrian government had help from Iran's Revolutionary Guard (their own troops plus a milia they recruited from Afghan refugees), Hizbollah militia (from Lebanon), Russian special forces and Wagner Group mercenaries (who are basically the same people) - which they had to use because Syria didn't have much infantry. They confined all but the elite bits of their army to barracks for fear they'd turn coat and join the rebels.

          The Syrian forces used chemical weapons on suburbs of their own capital city (and other places) and broke into their cities using tactics the Russians are using in Ukraine - which is besiege and destroy everything with artillery and air strikes only sending in your limited ground troops once attrition and starvation have done their work. So although ISIS killings of civiilians and civilians turned into rebel troops will account for a good deal of that deathtoll, it's pretty certain that hundreds of thousands of ciivilains were killed in places like Homs, Dera and Aleppo directly by the Syrian army or the international militias that it used to kill its own people.

          The Myanmar (ex Burmese) army might have a call in the top ten killers of the century too - given they've been killing their own civillians to keep the military regime in place for decades now - as well as starting their own genocide - of the Rohingya people - to add to the numbers.

          Sorry about the long post, but sometimes these rhetorical cheap shots require a proper answer.

        2. Dagg

          Re: On a more serious note....

          most civilian deaths

          Actually I thing that the American civilians are responsible for the most civilian deaths - their own civilians...

  10. Filippo Silver badge

    If somebody actually started shooting missiles at satellites by the dozens, wouldn't we get into a Kessler cascade scenario rather quickly? I know that Starlink satellites are supposed to be in a low enough orbit that fragments will just deorbit, but once you start doing this sort of thing on any sort of scale, the sheer amount of fragments is going to be orders of magnitude above what we have now. Even if they eventually burn up, it would be problematic for quite some time. Plus, at least some of those have got to get pushed into higher orbits by the blast...

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      If you're Chinese, that's kind of the point. It's a "force multiplier"; take out a few and they they do the work for you. And within a couple of decades of your Special Military Operation being over, the skies are free for you to use to observe your population.

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      If somebody actually started shooting missiles at satellites by the dozens, wouldn't we get into a Kessler cascade scenario rather quickly?

      Yes.

      I know that Starlink satellites are supposed to be in a low enough orbit that fragments will just deorbit, but once you start doing this sort of thing on any sort of scale, the sheer amount of fragments is going to be orders of magnitude above what we have now. Even if they eventually burn up, it would be problematic for quite some time. Plus, at least some of those have got to get pushed into higher orbits by the blast...

      While most satellites in a low orbit would deorbit in the timeframe of 5-10 years i'd imagine that this is going to depend on the size (and therefore drag) of the bits in question. One imagines that an intact satellite would deorbit faster due to drag than the same satellite reduced to debris. I'd imagine that smaller bits of a debris field even in a low orbit is probably going to have bits floating around in a degrading orbit in 30ish years time.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >I know that Starlink satellites are supposed to be in a low enough orbit that fragments will just deorbit

      One of the reasons that blowing up satellites is such a brazen move on the international stage is that the debris from such a collision or explosion is shot out on a range of very unpredictable vectors. So while the original satellite was probably on a nice, well-understood arc eventually plummeting to earth, the remaining bits of satellite are going to be flying off every which way in a cone stretching from straight down into the planet all the way to escape velocity peppering all the surrounding orbits with bits and pieces of every conceivable size.

      And we have practically no way to track most of it.

      So, yes, we'd be screwed out of at least LEO for a little while.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have popcorn and good binoculars. No problem here.

  11. Neurons for Kryton

    EMP them !

    Most of the comments presume China would blow Elon's orbiting handiwork up. Why not instead place a rather large satellite, let's call it a space station - they're already constructing these!, equipped with a huge array of solar panels (or a small reactor), a very large bank of super capacitors and some ginormous coil assembly's - hey presto a steerable EMP weapons platform and no pesky satellite debris!

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Mushroom

      RE: EMP Them!

      Capital Idea!

      Now, where's my steerable EMP device

      Ah, here it is! ---------------------------------------->

      Much cheaper, more maneuverable, and more effective EMP than some fangled array of coils and capacitors. And it just-about fits the description of "a small reactor" (sans containment and control systems of course)

      1. sreynolds Silver badge

        Re: RE: EMP Them!

        A low yield thermonuclear device up in the upper atmosphere is quite a good EMP.Just ask any old howlie.

        https://sofrep.com/news/the-us-accidentally-hit-hawaii-with-an-emp-in-the-1960s/

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: RE: EMP Them!

          "A low yield thermonuclear device up in the upper atmosphere is quite a good EMP."

          It's not just "good", it's about the minimum required to create an EMP of any useful power that can cover a large enough area.

  12. DS999 Silver badge

    Why would the US military use Starlink?

    They will build their own satellite constellation they have full control over, and can be built to be more jam resistant etc. It is estimated the full Starlink with 30K satellites will cost $15 to $30 billion. The DoD wouldn't need that many because they don't have to service millions of potential customers, but if it cost that much it is chicken feed compared to their yearly budget.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Why would the US military use Starlink?

      Even if the US DoD rolled their own constellation, they'd still want to have agreements and experience with Starlink - for redundancy.

      Additionally, a lot of bandwidth used by the military is Netflix and Sype calls home by service personnel - handy for moral but not mission critical. The Navy might rather this sort of thing was routed over Starlink instead of any military satellite network.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Why would the US military use Starlink?

      "It is estimated the full Starlink with 30K satellites will cost $15 to $30 billion."

      The full constellation is 42,000 sats according to Musk (take that for what it's worth). This doesn't include replacements for failed units and the estimated lifetime for the satellites is 5 years.

      The cost of the satellites is $10.5 billion to $21bn. The launch costs assuming around 45 satellites per launch on a used Falcon 9 Booster is around $47bn and will take around 934 launches. At two launches each week, that's 467 weeks or around 9 years and by that time, the first half are past their best by date. None of this arithmetic counts the many sats that have already died and are just floating debris.

      Just quick back of the envelope calculations don't make the constellation look like it has a chance of earning a return. Most of the world's population, especially those in remote areas don't earn enough money to pay for the service much less a late model computer to use with it. In densely populated areas, congestion can be a big problem unless subscriptions are limited. If you are sat within a large city, chances are that you have lower cost options for internet service that doesn't require the purchase of expensive hardware. For those in remote areas, a couple of other satellite internet providers are launching new sats destined for geosynchronous orbit which isn't great for latency, but they only have to support a few high bandwidth birds rather than ten of thousands and thousands of ground connect stations.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Why would the US military use Starlink?

      "They will build their own satellite constellation they have full control over,"

      Not only that, the military has a unique set of requirements over something meant for regular people. Security is important, ruggedness and utility in extreme circumstances. If a soldier needs comms, they can't spend time figuring out that the battery is too cold and they need to stick it in their pocket to warm up for 5 minutes so it will work properly. Drop your mobile and you run a significant risk of it breaking. Lose your phone and some entity might be able to extract your data. Neither of those things should happen with a device meant for field use in the military.

  13. nobody who matters

    "They will build their own satellite constellation they have full control over......."

    Think they already have ;)

  14. SnOOpy168

    Molotov cocktail concept.

    Just that control freak CCP, wants their revenge on the Huawei ban and to prevent their citizen from reaching information that CCP dislike.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Military intelligence

    Empty space and vacuous thinking.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As much as I hate to admit it..

    .. the author actually has a point. When you're talking about aerial combat you don't even need the ground stations, you just use the mesh between the satellites as a kind of updated version of MANET.

    That may, however, also then suffer the same issues as MANET: the edge nodes that provide connectivity out of theatre will become points of failure, indicated by the fact that they'll have to work harder. If they're using Intel chips you will then only have to find the heat signature for targeting..

    Interesting concept. Puts a whole different spin on things, as I thought Starlink was only to facilitate global intercept as a sort of ECHELON update.

    Luckily I'm only paranoid on weekdays :)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MAD

    to be honest taking out the Starlink's satellites is pretty simple. For example send a rocket to the correct orbit containing millions of ballbearings.

    The challenge is taking out Elon's toys without taking yours out at the same time and pretty well making spaceflight impossible for decades to come

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MAD

      If they were to take out Starlink, especially if they wait a while, that would probably be the end of the commercial mega constellations.

      No one else would risk the huge amount of capital to do it again knowing that the Chinese won't like anyone else's any more that Elon's, and the customers will have been scorched buying the ground stations for a vanished system.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: MAD

      "For example send a rocket to the correct orbit containing millions of ballbearings.

      "

      Maybe China resurrects some of Ronald Reagan's ray gun concepts and looks to zap Starlink sats from above and forces them down using light pressure. How much DV do the Starlink satellites have? I'm sure there are renewable options to just going kinetic, but that works too. It doesn't take too much of a push to disable a satellite that isn't equipped to deal with much of an upset.

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  • China is trolling rare-earth miners online and the Pentagon isn't happy
    Beijing-linked Dragonbridge flames biz building Texas plant for Uncle Sam

    The US Department of Defense said it's investigating Chinese disinformation campaigns against rare earth mining and processing companies — including one targeting Lynas Rare Earths, which has a $30 million contract with the Pentagon to build a plant in Texas.

    Earlier today, Mandiant published research that analyzed a Beijing-linked influence operation, dubbed Dragonbridge, that used thousands of fake accounts across dozens of social media platforms, including Facebook, TikTok and Twitter, to spread misinformation about rare earth companies seeking to expand production in the US to the detriment of China, which wants to maintain its global dominance in that industry. 

    "The Department of Defense is aware of the recent disinformation campaign, first reported by Mandiant, against Lynas Rare Earth Ltd., a rare earth element firm seeking to establish production capacity in the United States and partner nations, as well as other rare earth mining companies," according to a statement by Uncle Sam. "The department has engaged the relevant interagency stakeholders and partner nations to assist in reviewing the matter.

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  • Chinese startup hires chip godfather and TSMC vet to break into DRAM biz
    They're putting a crew together, and Beijing's tossed in $750m to get things started

    A Chinese state-backed startup has hired legendary Japanese chip exec Yukio Sakamoto as part of a strategy to launch a local DRAM industry.

    Chinese press last week reported that Sakamoto has joined an outfit named SwaySure, also known as Shenzhen Sheng Weixu Technology Company or Sheng Weixu for brevity.

    Sakamoto's last gig was as senior vice president of Chinese company Tsinghua Unigroup, where he was hired to build up a 100-employee team in Japan with the aim of making DRAM products in Chongqing, China. That effort reportedly faced challenges along the way – some related to US sanctions, others from recruitment.

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  • ZTE intros 'cloud laptop' that draws just five watts of power
    The catch: It hooks up to desktop-as-a-service and runs Android – so while it looks like a laptop ...

    Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE has announced what it claims is the first "cloud laptop" – an Android-powered device that the consumes just five watts and links to its cloud desktop-as-a-service.

    Announced this week at the partially state-owned company's 2022 Cloud Network Ecosystem Summit, the machine – model W600D – measures 325mm × 215mm × 14 mm, weighs 1.1kg and includes a 14-inch HD display, full-size keyboard, HD camera, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. An unspecified eight-core processors drives it, and a 40.42 watt-hour battery is claimed to last for eight hours.

    It seems the primary purpose of this thing is to access a cloud-hosted remote desktop in which you do all or most of your work. ZTE claimed its home-grown RAP protocol ensures these remote desktops will be usable even on connections of a mere 128Kbit/sec, or with latency of 300ms and packet loss of six percent. That's quite a brag.

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  • Proposed Innovation Act amendment would block US investment in China
    We're just astounded to see bipartisan efforts in Congress in this day and age

    A draft US law that would, for one thing, subsidize the US semiconductor industry, has gained an amendment that would turn the screws on American investments in foreign countries.

    The proposed update states that semiconductors, large-capacity batteries, pharmaceuticals, rare-earth elements biotech, AI, quantum computing, hypersonics, fintech and autonomous technologies are all included as sectors in which foreign investment would be limited, specifically in "countries of concern," or those considered foreign adversaries, like China. The amendment also would restrict construction investments and joint ventures that would involve sharing of IP and monetary rewards.

    US entities that have invested in a sector or country covered under the amendment would be required to notify the federal government, and the proposal also includes authorization for the executive branch to form an interagency panel responsible for reviewing and blocking foreign investments on national security grounds, the Wall Street Journal said of the amendment.

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