A screengrab of an encounter of an American and a Chinese satellite in space. (COMSPOC)

Corrected Nov. 2, 2021 at 4:10 p.m. ET. The original version of this story included the incorrect date for the USA 271 incident. The incident happened in August 2020.

WASHINGTON: China has demonstrated the ability to track and maneuver a satellite with a remarkably high degree of precision, allowing the Chinese military to spot a US satellite moving close and then to redirect its own satellite away from the US bird in little more than 24 hours, according to never-before-seen video recreations.

In an August 2020 incident, USA 271, a space surveillance satellite developed covertly by the Air Force and Orbital Sciences, approaches Chinese satellite SJ-20, the PRC’s heaviest and one of its most advanced satellites. The US satellite, part of the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSAPP), shadows the Chinese bird in parallel. But then the Chinese clearly detect the US satellite and rapidly move theirs away.


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