China is building a ‘high definition’ space facility with an astounding 150 million kilometer range

  • The new radar technology could also help China in its aspirations to mine asteroids, which was extensively covered in an article by the EurAsian Times.
  • The militarization of space cannot be considered the only way to destabilize international relations

China Fuyan, which translates to compound eye, is the name of this unique viewing facility. Leading the construction is the Chongqing Innovation Center of the Beijing Institute of Technology in southwestern Chongqing Municipality in China.

Fuyan’s construction project, which is expected to result in the world’s most extensive radar system, will also include participation from Tsinghua University, Peking University and the National Astronomical Observatories of China under the auspices of the Academy of Chinese science.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced plans to build an asteroid monitoring and defense system in April, and now there is talk of a new deep-space observation radar system.

According to a recent EurAsian Times article, China is also preparing to launch an asteroid deflection test and observation mission by 2026 that would contain an impactor that will hit the near-Earth object 2020 PN1 and an orbiter that will will make observations.

Compound eye radar system in China

According to Long Teng, president of the Beijing Institute of Technology and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the whole system will have more than 20 radar antennas, each measuring 25 to 30 meters in diameter, and they should be able to detect the asteroids. up to 150 million kilometers.

To research asteroids, Earth-Moon systems, etc., large-scale radar is currently needed, according to Long.

Long also mentioned that the Tianwen-2 mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2025, will benefit from the assistance of the radar system to find a suitable landing spot.

The Tianwen-2 asteroid sample return mission, also known as “ZhenHge”, is aimed at nearby asteroid 2016HO3, also known as Kamoalev, which is believed to be between 45 and 60 meters in size. According to a popular theory, Kamoalev may have separated from the Moon as a result of an asteroid crashing into the lunar surface.

The Tianwen-2 probe currently under construction will land on the Kamoalev using four robotic arms to collect samples to be returned to Earth.

The new active deep space observing facility will be built in three stages. According to Global Times, the initial phase will consist of installing four radars 16 meters in diameter in order to assess the viability of the system and create a 3D image of the Moon.

The initial phase of the project would be located in Longxing Town, Yubei District, Chongqing City, according to Science and Technology Daily. Two of the four radars have already been built and should start operating by September.

The second stage will be built in Yunyang, Chongqing, and will involve the construction of more than 20 antennas that will form a high-definition scattered radar system with a diameter of 100 meters. This system should be able to identify and image asteroids 10,000 kilometers away.

The third and final phase will achieve observation capabilities out to 150 million kilometers, making it the first deep-space radar capable of 3D imaging and dynamic surveillance, according to Global Times. The first two phases are technological demonstrators.

All three phases, according to Long Teng, will take place in Chongqing because of its “ideal geographic latitude for radar deployment and monitoring.”

Military and strategic purposes

Although the claimed purpose of this new radar system is benign, deep space radar can also be useful for military purposes, such as keeping tabs on the US military Boeing X-37B spaceplane while it is in orbit.

Omkar Nikam, a space and defense expert, was asked by EurAsian Times about the potential military applications of this new radar system.

“Everything in China has a military cover on top that is tied to something that is critically important for national or commercial purposes,” Nikam remarked.

For example, he added, “Argentina’s Espacio Lejano station, a deep station run by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), is supposed to be a member of the CNSA deep space network, but would also be supposed to make reports directly to the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force.

The new radar technology could also help China in its aspirations to mine asteroids, which was extensively covered in an article by the EurAsian Times. However, asteroid mining is fast becoming the next battleground in the US and China’s struggle to exploit space resources, which has also raised concerns about the weaponization of space.

Nikam responded to a question about this by saying that China views economic issues from a very strategic perspective, especially when it comes to the space economy.

“The weaponization of space cannot be seen as the only method of destabilizing international relations, but can also be seen from the perspective of pure security objectives,” Nikam says.

Accordingly, Nikam argues that even if China’s goals and missions ultimately lead to the military, that does not necessarily imply that the military’s primary goal is to cause disruption; rather, it responds to security needs.

He added that the space sector is “mostly government-run and the military is one of its biggest users”, saying “And that applies to all nations”.

“Military troops can be highly regarded as a pillar of security in the future when humans explore and eventually establish bases on the moon and mars; similar to how armed forces on land maintain national borders and ensure the protection of civilians,” Nikam added.