A Chinese Space Tug Just Grappled a Dead Satellite

This graphic shows a satellite in geostationary orbit. Image Credit: NASA

A Chinese satellite pulled a defunct navigation satellite out of the way of other satellites on January 22nd. The satellite, called SJ-21, appeared to operate as a space tug when it grappled onto the navigation satellite from the Chinese CompassG2 network. The operation details didn’t come from Chinese authorities but a report by ExoAnalytic Solutions, a commercial space monitoring company.

Chinese authorities are tight-lipped about the operation, but what can observations tell us about Chinese capabilities?

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