Space power China to build ground stations in Antarctica to enhance ocean monitoring
China’s global network of ground stations to support a growing number of satellites and outer space ambitions has evoked concern from other nations that it could be used for espionage, a suggestion that China has repeatedly rejected
Beijing: China, the third country to put a man in space after the Soviet Union and United States, is preparing to build ground stations in Antarctica to back its network of ocean monitoring satellites, the Chinese media reported on Thursday.
China’s global network of ground stations to support a growing number of satellites and outer space ambitions has evoked concern from other nations that it could be used for espionage, a suggestion that China has repeatedly rejected.
In 2020, Sweden’s state-owned space company, which had provided ground stations that helped fly Chinese spacecraft and transmit data, refused to renew contracts with China or accept new Chinese business citing “changes in geopolitics”.
According to Chinese media reports, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Group Co. will build the ground stations at the Zhongshan research base, one of two permanent Chinese research stations in Antarctica, after winning the tender with its 43.95 million yuan ($6.53 million) bid.
However, no technical details of the project have been divulged so far, though China Space News published two illustrations of an artist’s rendering that shows four ground stations at Zhongshan, located by Prydz Bay in East Antarctica, south of the Indian Ocean.
The project is part of broader initiatives aimed at building China’s marine economy and turning China into a marine power, according to China Space News.
A Chinese-built ground station in Argentina’s Patagonia has stirred concerns about its purpose despite China’s assurance that the station’s goal is peaceful space observation and spacecraft missions.
Last year, the docking of a Chinese military survey ship, which analysts say monitors launches of satellites, rockets and missiles, at Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built port of Hambantota drew loud opposition from neighbouring India concerned about potential spying.
China in October 2022, launched the last of three modules of its space station, which became the second permanently inhabited outpost in low-earth orbit after the NASA-led International Space Station.
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