Base for Space Object Identification Built in China

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China is setting up a new military base to enhance the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) “space situational awareness,” an initiative led by the PLA’s Strategic Support Force (PLASSF).

According to Interesting Engineering, Base 37 will be in charge of “tracking, analysis, and identification” of foreign space objects, including enhancing China’s domestic space object catalog’s accuracy, and will be in charge of detecting natural or artificial interferences that may affect PLA satellites. This new base will also enhance the PLA’s capacity to track and identify space objects’ locations, maneuvers, and operating environments, as well as alert Chinese forces of approaching ballistic missiles.

Further, longer-term priorities include developing a thorough ground and space-based missile early warning system and lowering the probability that PLA military communication satellites will encounter on-orbit spectrum interference.

The press release also states that the new base could serve as an additional and possibly more direct point of contact with the US, with the Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications Technology, noting that “cooperation in outer space safety is a common interest [that] China shares with” the Western nation.

It currently does not seem that the command post will operate on-orbit systems, though a study of the base’s capabilities can indicate the station’s involvement in integrating and analyzing space situational awareness data. The base doesn’t appear to be handling any of the nation’s moveable satellites at the moment (like the SJ-21, which is fitted with robotic arms).

Interesting Engineering further reports that base 37 may use on-orbit space situational awareness systems to improve the Chinese space object catalog. It would do so by comparing the locations of detected objects with those in other public records.