Space: China And America Together In Australia


April 16, 2013: The U.S. is installing a new satellite monitoring system in Australia. This will consist of a radar and a high-powered telescope, both of which can be used to track and scrutinize space satellites. The main reason for this new gear in Australia is that it allows better scrutiny of Chinese satellites and satellite launches. The Australians will operate the radar and share all data with the United States. 

Australia has been hosting American space tracking facilities for decades and operating some of their own as well. Two years ago Australia allowed China to share use of a satellite tracking facility in order to support Chinese space launches. This irritated some American officials but did not cause a major fuss because the U.S. recognizes that China is the major buyer of Australian raw material exports and a pillar of Australian prosperity for over a decade. Australia sees the U.S. as their main military ally, a relationship that goes back to World War II. But Australia is closer to Asia than North America and has spent decades developing good relationships with its neighbors.

Meanwhile, China has been establishing satellite tracking facilities in Pakistan and Africa. These are used to keep an eye on spy satellites, which often change their orbits to look at new targets on the ground. Each station uses a combination of radar and telescopes to detect and identify spy satellites that pass overhead. With more such tracking stations, China has better knowledge when spy satellites will show up over China. This enables China to better hide things they don't want the satellites to see. This information also aids in efforts to knock down spy satellites.


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