A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a batch of 53 Starlink internet satellites lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, April 21, 2022.

Military researchers in China want their nation to be ready to destroy the internet constellation if the Starlink satellites pose a threat. It's an ominous possibility, but it's not easy to do.

A researcher with the Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications argued in a research paper published in China's peer-reviewed journal Modern Defence Technology that the Chinese military should. As of today, the paper appears to have been taken down. There is a translated version of the article.

Soft and hard kill methods should be used to make some Starlink satellites lose their functions and destroy the operating system, according to the paper. The researchers behind the recent paper warn of Starlink going on the offensive and using the satellites to knock out China's satellites.

The Starlink satellite constellation is designed to provide high-speed internet to virtually any part of the world. More than 2,300 Starlink satellites have been placed in the air so far, and the company plans to launch upwards of 42,000 satellites.

If you're a part of the military, you see Starlink as a different problem than war in space.

The main issue with the Starlink satellites is that there is too many of them and so you have to destroy them all. Knocking out one or two won't affect the entire system. Replacing a few lost units would be easy for the company. Replacing a Starlink satellite is cheaper than replacing an anti-satellite missile.

Two Starlink satellites nearly crashed into China's Tianhe space station in two separate occasions in 2021, causing China to become extra wary of the constellation. The space station had to leave the way of the Chinese astronauts.

The authors of the paper are worried that the private company will help the U.S. military in dominating this valuable swath of space. China's military expressed its concern over Musk's use of Starlink to support Ukraine during the Russian invasion. After cell towers were damaged by Russian forces, Starlink began to provide internet connections for people in Ukraine.

The website affiliated with China's Central Military Commission published an opinion piece that warned of Starlink's reach.

In this era of megaconstellations, one strategy is to interrupt the enemy's lines of communication, but that is becoming a tall order. Starlink has an inherent advantage for those who choose to use it.

If you attempt to take out Starlink, it's not easy because there are 2,000 satellites. In an interview with Business Insider in March, Musk said that he hopes we don't have to put this to a test.

There is a real threat to our planet from overcrowding and turning low Earth orbit into a space war zone. The U.S. military has a plan to build a constellation of small satellites. Between 300 and 500 satellites are meant to support military operations. China is also working on plans for a satellite internet megaconstellation.

This Chinese military news is a distraction from the real discussion that needs to be happening, which is, how are we going to coordinate all of this?