The race for space supremacy

orbital_defense_system
A satellite defense system. Fortunately (or unfortunately) it’s from the movie Independence Day – Resurgence

Today I stumbled upon this Chinese article that describes a space race scenario similar to that of the Cold War. I’d like to share the article with you and to highlight some interesting passages. I apologize in advance for their translation because I can’t speak Chinese,  so they’re the direct outcome of Google Translator. I decided to keep  the original translation to avoid wrong corrections due to misunderstandings of mine.

China’s satellites can be equipped with laser weapons combat weapons US military reconnaissance system is difficult to lock

Chinese spacecraft, satellites Equipped with this engine, it can be stealth maneuver flight, its orbital ability will also be greatly enhanced.

Almost at the same time, Chinese research institutes have claimed that they have already successfully produced the electromagnetic propulsion system prototype. China Academy of Space Technology researcher at a news conference, said the Chinese government as early as 2010, funding to support scientific research institutions to develop electromagnetic propulsion system, and they have successfully produced in the near-Earth orbit test electromagnetic propulsion system The prototype. In November 2016, sources said China’s electromagnetic propulsion system prototype has been in the Temple II [Tiangong II – E.N] space laboratory for testing. Therefore, the NASA team recently published papers, but on the Chinese research institutions have achieved results, reaffirmed, China is the technology leader.

China Academy of Space Technology’s goal is as soon as possible in the satellite project on the use of mass production electromagnetic propulsion system. The Chinese scientists are trying to improve their prototypes to reduce power consumption, and they have to find ways to plug these engines into satellites and find suitable materials for engine development, he said. US military experts said that China and the United States is around the electromagnetic propulsion system to carry out research and development competition, the technology has great military potential, if China allows military satellites to install electromagnetic propulsion system, then can be faster track Maneuver flight, the PLA’s altitude control of the satellite flight is more convenient.

tiangong2
Shenzhou-11 spacecraft docked with Tiangong II

If we peel off from the article the layer of Chinese propaganda, the core of the message is: “we don’t want American untraceable satellites (or space crafts) above us but we want ours above them, so we must master electromagnetic propulsion before them and anyone else”. The most interesting part however is the claim that an EmDrive thruster has already been tested in space. The fact that Chinese haven’t shared the tests results makes me think to the following scenarios:

  • The Chinese EmDrive works and it’ll be mass produced but they keep the technology secret so they’ll enter the market in a leading position.
  • The Chinese EmDrive works and its first use will be for military purposes: no knowledge sharing and a space war scenario. In this case let’s hope it won’t lead to tensions between China and USA. It would be a good material for a movie though, like a new “Hunt for Red October” but in space (and with Chinese in place of Russians).
  • The Chinese EmDrive doesn’t work and this is just pointless propaganda.

If we exclude the third scenario then we can’t exempt ourselves from asking the real question here: have they actually discovered the principle that makes it work?

In my humble opinion I suspect they are not ahead in this race but only more eager to obtain practical results: as I’ve already written on this blog Laureti thinks that EmDrive works “by chance” and thus it is not efficient (7/8 times less than F242); for this reason I think we have to wait for any (leaked?) pictures of their EmDrive before drawing to conclusions: if it’ll have Shawyer’s design the answer is probably no, otherwise they could actually have made some progresses.

In any case, things seems to get pretty serious here.

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