Researchers in China are considering the development of a gigantic spaceship to help the country’s scientific, military, and economic goals. According to sources, China’s National Natural Science Foundation (NNSFC) is planning a spaceship that will be a mile long.
This project is still in the early phases of development. The NNSFC has carried out a feasibility assessment. It will be supported with slightly more than $2 million in funds and is given five years to see if such an idea is even feasible. According to the technological advancements now, the project is not possible. It would also be very expensive if undertaken, as Live Science’s Edd Gent points out.
There is however a slew of issues with such a proposal, ranging from energy considerations (keeping such a gigantic structure in low orbit) to life support concerns (can humans endure radiation in high orbit?). A feasibility study’s purpose is to uncover all of those little concerns and come up with remedies. This may be a more pressing matter for future generations than our current military, but every major threat to global security must start somewhere.
In normal circumstances, such far-fetched notions wouldn’t cause much existential dread; after all, no one is actually considering a mile-long spaceship right now. On the other hand, China does not need to build a mile-long spaceship. It can build one that is smaller or more appropriate for the task at hand. When we contemplate how large a spaceship China could create and what it might be used for, there’s plenty of reason to be concerned.
China’s quantum communications research is ranked higher than that of any other country. When you consider the ability to house a quantum computer (a lot of space, a lot of power, and the ability to keep it extremely cold), the concept of a massive spaceship sitting in high orbit begins to make sense. A spaceship that is possibly a mile-long quantum supercomputer controlled by algorithms need not have people on board. Adding a few hundred thousand crypto-mining machines on it would help cut the cost.
Space Military is perhaps a bad idea because we already have a space force, the Air Force. Despite the changes in uniforms, designations, and logos, the Space Force continues to accomplish its job. The United States, on the other hand, has benefited from a greater focus on military space challenges.
In this circumstance, strengthening the United States’ capabilities to deal with space threats is advantageous. In the digital arms competition, China is hell-bent on becoming a major global aggressor. It openly steals technological secrets from American firms and government systems, and it’s been blamed for a slew of data breaches and cyber-attacks.
When you consider China’s aggressive technical posture and what we know about its quantum communications research, the notion of a potentially hostile nation commanding a large spaceship above our planet and dozens of artificial satellites orbiting it becomes rather frightening.
To think of a big spaceship as a military enterprise rather than as a blessing that could further humanity’s scientific knowledge is sarcastic. However, as long as several countries, including China and the US, have nuclear missiles aimed at each other to maintain the mutually assured destruction paradigm, it is critical for the global population’s safety and survival that we never allow a single government to have complete control of the area around our planet.