This morning, Russia successfully launched a classified military satellite that is thought to be part of Moscow’s early warning anti-missile system. Hours later, China did the same thing, launching its Shiyan-11 satellite into space that Is built for testing, with its mission still being kept a secret. While these two missions may not be directly linked, experts are increasingly concerned about the pair working together in the cosmos.
Tracey German, Professor in Conflict and Security for King’s College London told Express.co.uk that the terrifying pair are looking to strengthen their partnership to overtake the US’ leadership in space.
She said: “They [Russia and China] have already set out plans to work together in space, announcing plans to jointly build an international lunar research station earlier this year. “
Professor German was referring to a deal back in March, when the China National Space Administration and the Russian space agency Roscosmos signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the joint construction of a permanent research station on the Moon.
Russia has threatened the decade-long partnership with NASA, and has now signalled that cooperating with China has become one of Russia’s “top priorities”, according to a Roscosmos spokesperson.
Professor German added: “Since 2014, China has become an increasingly important partner for Russia, and they have developed a strategic partnership, primarily driven by economic and military cooperation, particularly arms sales and joint/multilateral military exercises, and China is an important market for Russian gas.
“They also share a common suspicion of Western efforts to promote democratic forms of governance around the world. But likely to remain a pragmatic marriage of convenience that helps them challenge US dominance.”
And last week, China and Russia set up a space weather centre in Beijing to increase their international influence in space weather aviation services.
But the new satellites the pair have sent into orbit might appear slightly more threatening.
Russia’s launch on Thursday saw a Soyuz rocket carrying a classified payload blasted from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia.
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Spaceflightnow, a website covering space launched, suspect it to be a Tundra satellite.
Russia also launched Tundra satellites in 2015, 2017 and 2019, according to Interfax, an independent Russian news agency.
The ground track of the recent launch reportedly “matched previous missions” delivering satellites for Russia’s missile warning system called Kupol.
Kupol is designed to detect launches of ballistic missiles and track them to their landing site.
Back in 2018, the US, which fears that Russia of planning to develop space weapons, sounded the alarm at Russia’s “very abnormal behaviour” of a Russian satellite.
But Moscow dismissed the claims as “unfounded allegations”.
And this also comes after Russia sent a chilling threat to NATO after it warned it could blow up 32 of its satellites.
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Russian state television claimed Moscow’s anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles have the capacity to obliterate the 32 NATO satellites ‘blind all their missiles, planes and ships, not to mention the ground forces.’
The warning was a response to Washington’s “serious concerns” about the build-up of 100,000 Russian troops at the Ukraine Russian border, with Joe Biden nw considering providing military assistance for Ukraine.
And while China’s latest satellite mission is unknown, last week they launched two powerful Gaofen satellites which reportedly have similar optical capabilities to the US’ Keyhole-class classified spy satellites.
Still little is known about the Gaofen satellites too, with their capabilities only speculation by SpaceNews.
While no details of the satellites were reported, Chinese state media maintain that the latest Gaofen satellite will be “mainly used for land surveys, city planning, land rights confirmation, road network design, crop yield estimation and disaster prevention and mitigation”.