China launched last month a satellite named Shijian-21 to test new ways of cleaning up space debris.
SpaceNews reports that the US Space Force discovered and cataloged a new object this week. It is believed to be a rocket body used to launch satellites into geostationary orbits called an apogee motor (AKM).
Strangely, however, the object is still in geostationary orbit next to Shijian-21, rather than maneuvering out of its way to avoid collisions with other satellites. This is the normal protocol for AKMs.
This strange situation raises more questions than it answers. We don't know if the object in question is an AKM or a related entity. The Chinese space agency doesn't always keep up with orbital activities, so we might never know.
It is a dangerous situation. It is a precarious situation. World powers like Russia and China are currently testing anti-satellite technology, which could lead to a new kind of cold war. Although the potential tactical advantages of being able to destroy enemy satellites might be a significant advantage for a country's military, there are also huge risks.
This means that military powers keep a close eye on other world powers' movements around the Earth.
There may have been some run-ins. Breaking Defense reported last week that a Chinese satellite was following a US satellite and adjusting its orbit in order to keep up.
It is possible that the purpose of Shijian-21's object will never be revealed to the public. This puts the US forces on alert. We can only hope that this type of incident does not escalate.
READ MORE: A satellite orbiting with China's Shijian-21 debris mitigation satellite [SpaceNews]
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