There's yet another development in space affairs that is worth reporting, in the wake of yesterday's blog about the break between NASA and Russia's Roscosmos over America's dissatisfaction with Russia's incursion into the Crimean peninsula. As most of you know by now, I've been maintaining for some time that the BRICSA nations would attempt to development their own mechanisms for international financial clearing that were independent of the US dollar and the West in general, and that recent bilateral agreements between various nations and China to clear in reminbi directly, by-passing the dollar, constitute slow and deliberate steps in this direction. As an adjunct to this attempt, I have also been arguing that this will mean we should watch for indications of the expansion of space-based capabilities from the BRICSA nations.
No sooner said, than done:
There's really two stories in one here. The first is the extreme speed by which China hopes to accomplish blanketing the world in two years(!) with fifty surveillance satellites, and the fact that this is being done ostensibly in response to that nation's frustrations over the disappearance of Malaysia Air flight 370. While various conspiracy theories continue to be advanced in the media about what happened to Flight 370, I continue to be of the opinion that the powers-that-be simply don't know, and that the event has been seized upon as a crisis of opportunity. Indeed, there are those on the internet advancing the idea that US behavior in the matter has been less than exemplary, and that it has used the event to find out about China's satellite surveillance capabilities. There was, of course, the disclosure, and then subsequent curious "retraction" of a picture of "something" in the waters off Vietnam captured by a Chinese satellite.
Thus, the sudden and dramatic nature of this announcement from China has a certain quality of "anxiety" in this author's opinion, as if gaping holes have been exposed, holes that need to be plugged, and quickly. The "worldwide" nature of the coverage they are seeking from such a program suggests that that nation has suspicions about the disappearance of Malaysia Air Flight 370 which it is not voicing... at least, for the moment.
But there is also the possibility that the flight may be being used as a "crisis of opportunity" by that nation as well, as a convenient rationale for a dramatic and quick upgrade of its space surveillance capability. This, I think is probably only the tip of an iceberg, and that surveillance alone is not the only thing that China is conceiving here, the other component being the establishment of a global GPS system and communications system independent of the West. If that's the case, we can expect some "bilateral space agreements" to be made with other interested nations - Brazil for example - to launch and expand space communications platforms independent of US interference.
In other words, China just served notice that the game's afoot.
See you on the flip side.