Chinese satellite is caught in espionage

The Chinese satellite TJS-3 is engaged in tracking spacecraft in geostationary orbit. This is evidenced by the results of observations of satellite spotters.

Source: iStockphoto

TJS-3 was launched in 2018. According to the official version, this is an experimental communications satellite. Some time after entering geostationary orbit, it released a subsatellite. It may have been used to test the capabilities of TJS-3.

According to orbital data, in recent months, TJS-3 has made several close “visits” to communication spacecraft belonging to the US Space Forces. In particular, on October 31, 2022, TJS-3 approached the USA 233 satellite at a distance of 6.2 km. The USA 298 satellite also received a similar “rendezvous”.

Such visits are possible due to the specifics of the geostationary orbit. The spacecraft located on it move at a speed that coincides with the speed of rotation of our planet around its axis. As a result, they are constantly above the same point on the earth’s surface. At the same time, if it is necessary to switch to another position, it is enough for the geostationary spacecraft to change the altitude of the orbit by only a few tens of kilometers. In this case, it begins to drift relatively slowly in orbit. In the case of spy satellites, this gives them the opportunity to conduct reconnaissance of other spacecraft. For example, take a picture of them or try to intercept the signals.

Recall that this is not the first orbital “cat and mouse” with the participation of American and Chinese satellites. A similar incident occurred in June 2022. It was attended by the American satellite inspector USA 270 and Chinese devices Shiyan-12-01 and Shiyan-12-02.

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