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China’s Ground Segment: Building the Pillars of a Great Space Power

Space has long been important to national security.  Dating back decades, the “Space Race” was not just about the ideological competition between the communist Soviets and the free West, it had real world national security implications.  That is even more true today.  As technology has advanced and the cost of entry into space has plummeted, what once was the purview of nation states is now the playground for private companies and individuals.  

Space operations are not just a matter of rockets and satellites: ground stations, commonly recognized by their large satellite dishes, play an invaluable role in operating satellites and other spacecraft. Communicating with satellites and other spacecraft, downloading the data they collect, and other operations require multiple networks of sophisticated processing centers and receiving and monitoring stations.  This report seeks to shed light on this often overlooked portion of the Chinese space architecture, and how it furthers the national security interest of the PRC.

As the era of great power competition continues to evolve, we must understand the full breadth and depth of the competition, particularly when it comes to what CMC Chairman Xi Jinping has described as the “new strategic high ground”.  This report lays the foundation to better understand the nature of the PRC’s ground segment, both within the borders of China and the international infrastructure that China relies on for constant access to, and global coverage of, their space assets, and thus space power.

Dr. Brendan S. Mulvaney
Director, China Aerospace Studies Institute

CLICK HERE for the full report