China is considering a plan to cover the entire world with a network of surveillance satellites.
If it went ahead the plan could see more than 50 observation satellites in orbit within two years, The South China Morning Post reported. This would put the country’s satellite surveillance capabilities on a par, or greater than, the US.
The paper said support for the massive upscale was fuelled by China’s frustration over the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370.
After a three-week search satellites have been unable to locate for certain debris from the disappeared plane, which was carrying mainly Chinese passengers on a scheduled flight to Beijing.
“If we had a global monitoring network today, we wouldn’t be searching in the dark. We would have a much greater chance to find the plane and trace it to its final position,” Professor Chi Tianhe, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, told the paper.
There are currently about 1000 satellites in orbit above the planet, though most are only for communications. Of these around 150 are for observation, remote-sensing and spying, according to statistics from the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists.