China to test space weapon in launching moon satellite: rights group

China to test space weapon in launching moon satellite: rights group

Kyodo News

(c) 2007 Kyodo News

HONG KONG, Oct. 23 -- A Chinese submarine will send test signals that could change the course of a satellite when China launches its first moon orbiter, as part of the country's effort to develop space war technology, a human rights watchdog said Tuesday.

The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said two survey ships are deployed in the South Pacific Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean to send signals to maneuver the lunar exploration satellite, expected to be launched Wednesday. At the same time, a nuclear-powered submarine will send simulated signals to the satellite as a test, it said in a statement.

Once the satellite-maneuvering technology matures, the group said, China would have the know-how to destroy other satellites in space in wartime. China could launch cheaply-made weapon-carrying objects into space and change their courses to destroy or damage satellites of other countries by sending signals from submarines, the center said.

China shocked the world in January by firing a missile at an old weather satellite without notifying anyone in advance, showing off its anti-satellite weaponry and its ability to shoot down satellites without being immediately noticed.

Hong Kong's media reported that a rocket that will carry the satellite was being fueled up, banners of greetings on the successful launch were prepared and farmers living near the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, in mid-western China's Sichuan Province, will be evicted one hour ahead of the launch.

China plans to launch the satellite around 6 p.m. Wednesday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Monday, quoting a spokesman of the China National Space Administration. The satellite is named Chang'e I after the legendary Chinese goddess who, according to legend, flew to the moon.

China's space industry enjoyed its first major success after astronaut Yang Liwei reentered Earth after 21 hours in space in 2003 in the spacecraft Shenzhou 5, marking China's first successful manned space mission.

A second manned space mission was successfully concluded in 2005 after astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng finished orbiting the Earth for five days in the spacecraft Shenzhou 6.