Satellites are vital in modern war. Without them there will be no navigation, positioning, communications, reconnaissance and missile guidance capabilities in modern warfare. We can foresee that in a modern large-scale war, satellites will first be destroyed. As a result, the capability to quickly make up for the destroyed satellites will be the key in winning the war.
Every military power in the world is developing its anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities. China is no exception. However, when a satellite has been destroyed by enemy ASAT rocket, it take a few days to install a replacement satellite on a rocket, erect the rocket and launch the replacement. The military will suffer greatly if it installs its destroyed satellites later than its enemy.
According to sources, China has developed its unique anti-ASAT capabilities in having developed and deployed its Kuaizhou anti-ASAT system.
In that system, there are lots of ready-made Kuaizhou satellites with integrated rockets installed on mobile vehicles. Soon after a satellite has been destroyed, a Kuaizhou rocket will be loaded with liquid fuel and go out of the tunnel it has been hiding to quickly launch a replacement satellite. As China is able to replace the destroyed satellite much quicker than its enemy, it will be able to quickly recover its satellite navigation, positioning, communications, reconnaissance and missile guidance capabilities to win the war.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on mil.huanqiu.com’s report in Chinese “China’s Kuaizhou rocket looks exactly like a ballistic missile when it is launched”
In my posts “China’s Kuaizhou System Able to Replace Destroyed Satellite within Hours” and “China a Step ahead of US in Development of Space Quick Response System” respectively on Septemer 17 and 27, 2014, I described China’s quick-response Kuaizhou anit-ASAT system for quick replacement of military satellites when they have been destroyed by enemy’s anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons. Kuaizhou has been developed on the basis of DF-21 missile. Its maximum diameter is only 1.4 meters; therefore, the load it can carry is relatively light.
Now, according to mil.huanqiu.com’s report, China has developed and conducted successful maiden flight of its CZ-11 anti-ASAT rocket with a diameter of 2 meters able to send a load of 350 kg to sun-synchronous orbit or of 700 kg to low earth orbit. At present most optical, radar electronic reconnaissance satellites use those two orbits. In fact the rocket has been developed on the basis of DF-31, an intercontinental ballistic missile with much more fuel than DF-21 intermediate ballistic missile. No wonder it can carry much heavier load than the rocket for Kuaizhou anti-ASAT system.
According to China’s official source, CZ-11 can respond within 24 hours because it uses solid fuel and is stored in a launch tube with various stages connected and satellites installed. The launch tube is carried by a truck that carries China’s DF-31 ICBM; therefore, it can be carried to a random launch site, erected and launched quickly.
It is easier to control the temperature and cleanness of a rocket installed with satellites in a launch tube. In addition, the parts and components of the rocket and satellite are better protected in the tube. At an emergency, the rocket can be launched after some simple check and examination. Moreover, a rocket launched from a launch tube can be cold launched. It will first be ejected from the tube by a burning gas generator or a piston system and ignited when it leaves the launch tube so that there will be less damage to the launch tube and the rocket by the fire.
Compared with similar U.S. and Japanese rockets, CZ-11 excels in respond time and launch expense.
Source: mil.huanqiu.com “The rocket derived from DF-31 is superior to U.S. and Japanese ones” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)
Taiwan’s Defense International magazine has recently published an article on China developing space-air warfare troops to attain its newest integrated space and air capabilities.
The article says this year Mainland authority has announced its launch of more than 14 satellites. What draws keen attention is its speedy satellite replacement plan.
When a Chinese satellite has been destroyed by the enemy, a replacement can be assembled within one hour and the replacement will be sent into its orbit by the mobile rocket for DF-21 and DF-31 missile. It will make up for the reconnaissance and positioning functions of the destroyed satellite.
There is detailed description of Kuaizhou system in the section titled “China a Step ahead of U.S. in ASAT Defense”, Chapter 4 of my new book Space Era Strategy: The Way China Beats The U.S.
Source: huanqiu.com “Media on China’s ‘Quaizhou Plan’ able to complete assembly of a satellite within an hour” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)