The power of the atom to destroy enemy satellites. This would be China’s new project which simulated the use of nuclear weapons to destroy satellites in near-Earth orbit. According to the Asia Times, this tactic could disable several constellations of enemy satellites (whether specialized in espionage or communication) used to support military operations. The Northwest Institute of Nuclear Technology, a research institute run by the Chinese military, says it has developed a model to assess the performance of anti-satellite nuclear weapons at different altitudes with unprecedented precision and detail.
The research team’s latest simulation showed that a 10-megaton warhead could destroy satellites if it exploded at an altitude of 80 kilometers, which is still considered “near” space. “This explosion then transforms the air molecules into a pear-shaped cloud of radioactive particles that can cause failures and damage to satellites,” said Liu Li, the nuclear physicist in charge of this project. The researcher also clarified that a nuclear explosion in real space, more distant, would be ineffective because the absence of air would not allow the generation of a large radioactive cloud.
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According to Liu Li, an atmospheric nuclear explosion in “near” space can create a gigantic radiation cloud. In addition, the high concentrations of radioactive particles in this cloud of debris amplify the damage caused to communication satellites. The Chinese simulation showed that immediately after the explosion, the radioactive cloud would rise at 2 or 3 kilometers per second, forming a huge trap for satellites in the area. However, unlike an explosion in real space, most of the air molecules would fall to Earth instead of remaining in orbit, which will avoid destroying spacecraft located at other points above the globe. .
Asia Times reported that these anti-satellite nuclear weapons would be very useful for Xi Jinping’s government to destroy Elon Musk’s satellite constellation: Starlink. According to the daily, China has observed Starlink’s crucial aid to the Ukrainian army in the face of Russian troops. The People’s Republic would have planned the destruction of these satellites if they came to the aid of Taiwan during a potential invasion of the island by the Chinese army.
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