Find a Security Clearance Job!


Chinese Space Surveillance

Curiously China evidently does not have the sort of elablorate space surveillance capabilities such as those of the United States, Russia, or even Europe. Most of China's "space surveillance" capabilities are designed to support operations of cooperating Chinese space missiones, rather than tracking the non-cooperating spacecraft of other countries.

InfoBase Publishers, Inc.'s Programs Database is one of six databases contained in InfoBase Publishers' Defense/Aerospace Competitive Intelligence Service (DACIS). It reports that the Chinese space surveillance system prime contractors are 14th Research Institute (Beijing, China), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) (Beijing, China), Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST) (Beijing, China), Shanghai Institute of Satellite Engineering (Shanghai, China), Southwest China Research Institute of Electronic Equipment (SWIEE) (Chengdu, China), Xian Institute of Space Radio Technology Engineering (Xian, China).

The Kunming 40-meter radio telescope is situated in the yard of the Yunnan Astronomical Observatory (Longitude: 102:8± East, Latitude: 25:0± North) and saw its first light in 2006 May. The new facility superseded the 3-m mobile VLBI station of the Yunnan Astronomical Observatory. The mobile station was installed on a truck and was mainly used for carrying out geodetic VLBI observations. The Kunming station successfully joined the VLBI tracking of China’s first lunar probe “Chang’E-1” together with the other Chinese telescopes: the Beijing Miyun 50-meter radio telescope, Urumqi Nanshan 25-meter radio telescope, and Shanghai Sheshan 25-meter radio telescope, and received the downlinked scientific data together with the Miyun station from October of 2007 to March of 2009. These are all passive telescopes rather than active radars.

Phillip C. Saunders wrote on May 24, 2005 that "China probably already has sufficient tracking and space surveillance systems to identify and track most U.S. military satellites." But Allen Thomson wrote in 2005 of "the long-standing question of the existence of a Chinese space surveillance capability. If it's true they don't have such a capability, one has to wonder why not, and what it implies about their ability to conduct military operations that need the orbital elements of non-cooperative satellites."

Concerning space situation awareness, Brian Weeden wrote on July 13, 2009 that "China is looking into this problem as well, with their existing optical telescopes and research at the Purple Mountain Observatory located near Nanjing in Jiangsu Province. They have stated that they currently have a catalog of about 100 objects, but have plans to develop a Chinese Space Surveillance System, including building a network of optical sensors. Although unknown exactly to what extent, it is also believed that certain phased array radars managed by the Chinese military are also used for space surveillance."

Mark A. Stokes and Dean Cheng wrote in April 2012 that "China’s space surveillance system is gradually expanding in scope and sophistication. Headquartered in Weinan (Shaanxi Province), Base 26 (63750 Unit) likely functions as a space and missile surveillance center, and plays a role in monitoring and identifying debris and other objects in space. GAD’s space tracking network consists of a center in Xian, fixed land based sites, at least one mobile system, and four Yuanwang tracking ships capable of operating throughout the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. GAD also operates a number of foreign tracking and control locations. The Base 26 space surveillance system may fuse data from other sources. One organization possibly supporting the GAD’s space tracking network is the China Academy of Science’s Space Target and Debris Observation and Research Center, under the purview of the Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing.... Other subordinate elements are collocated with or near Base 26 general headquarters in the Weinan area; Qingdao (63756 Unit); Xiamen (63758 Unit); Nanning (63760 Unit); Xian (63761 Unit, or Xian P.O. Box 505); Shaxian (Fujian Province) Yangfang Village (63762 Unit)."

Cesar Jaramillo wrote in 2011 that "Since joining the IADC in 1995, China has maintained its own catalog of space objects, using data from the SSN to perform avoidance maneuver calculations and debris modeling.... To support its growing space program, China has established a tracking, telemetry, and command (TT&C) system consisting of six ground stations in China and one each in Namibia and Pakistan, as well as a eet of four Yuan Wang satellit etracking ships.65 ese assets provide the foundation for space surveillance, but are believed to have limited capacity to track uncooperative space objects. China is believed to have phased array radars that can track space objects, but little is known about them or their capabilities. "

In 2011 David A. Vallado and Jacob D. Griesbach noted in 2011 that "The Chinese Space Surveillance System (CSSS) is very difficult to obtain information on ... We found some phased array radars sites, most likely used with missile tests, but also possibly for space surveillance. ... It’s possible that many of these systems are designed for missile testing, but there could be space surveillance applications as well...."

ID # Location Name Type Latitude Longitude Altitude (m)
330 Purple Mtn, Xinjian, China XOS Optical 32.737044 118.463981 174
337 Shanghai, Sheshan Obs SHAO1 Optical 31.096378 121.188542 85
9991 Guanxing Mtn, Qingdao QOS Optical 36.070181 120.321114 66
9992 Huairou HSOS Optical 40.315494 116.594225 56
9993 Shanghai, Xujiahui Obs SHAO Optical 31.190164 121.429419 17
9994 Xinglong LAMOST3 Optical 40.395744 117.575861 875
9995 Xinglong LAMOST Optical 40.389094 117.489433 656
9996 Heilongnjiang HOS Optical 47.500000 133.420000 153
9997 Yaoan, Yunan YOS Optical 25.600000 101.100000 153
5551 Xuanhua Xuanhua 640-5 Project - 110 Tracking Radar 26.621667 107.698056 875
5552 Xuanhua [closed] 640-4 Project - 7010 LPAR 40.447829 115.117107 1286
5553 Korla, Xinjiang LPAR Phased Array Radar 41.641458 86.236956 933

Join the mailing list