Home Human communication China’s mega-constellation project establishes satellite cluster in Chongqing

China’s mega-constellation project establishes satellite cluster in Chongqing

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HELSINKI – A group leading China’s national low-earth orbit communications mega-constellation has founded two new companies to help develop the project, but overall plans remain vague.

China Satellite Network Application Co., Ltd. and Chongqing Satellite Network System Research Institute Co., Ltd. were established in Chongqing Liangjiang New Area on December 29 to jointly build an industrial satellite Internet system in Chongqing City, Chinese-speaking state. media Science and technology Daily reports.

The companies were revealed following meetings between representatives of China Satellite Network Group Co. Ltd., based in April 2021 to oversee the development of China’s national broadband constellation, and Chongqing City officials.

Group chairman Yang Baohua noted that Chongqing offers advantages in terms of strategic location, strong economy and human resources, and links with the Belt and Road Initiative and the Yangtze River Economic Belt. , while the satellite cluster would benefit Chongqing’s economic and social development, according to the report.

This development marks a new step in China’s national plan to establish a LEO satellite Internet constellation. The project would seek to fill gaps in terrestrial communications, provide services to rural areas, and compete with western constellations currently planned and under construction. However, the China Satellite Network Group has yet to release details of the project or its potential partners.

ITU deposits achieved in 2020 indicate that China is planning a constellation of just under 13,000 low-earth orbit satellites to provide global communications.

The project appears to enjoy wide support, including at the highest level. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) added:Satellite internet”To a list of“ new infrastructures ”in April 2020, stimulating local and provincial policies aimed at fostering and supporting clusters of the satellite and space sector in cities of China, such as Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan, Canton, Beijing, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xi’an, Changsha and Wenchang and the Yangtze River Delta region.

The recently approved 14th five-year plan for the period 2021-2026 and the “long-term goals until 2035” call for an integrated network of communications, Earth observation and navigation satellites.

The New Companies are not the first satellite Internet companies to be founded in Chongqing. At the end of 2018, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the country’s main space entrepreneur, based Dongfanghong Satellite Mobile Communication Co. Ltd., in Chongqing Liangjiang New Area, to take over the Hongyan LEO communication project of CASC.

Hongyan was to include more than 300 satellites. CASC has announced plans to have the first 60 satellites in orbit by 2022. A single prototype was launched, Hongyan-1, in 2018.

Hongyan and Hongyun, another LEO communications mega-constellation planned by CASC’s giant public defense company, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), have apparently been superseded by the domestic project.

The installation of the new companies in the same area as the previous CASC project, which initially attracted investment of around $ 3.14 billion, could however indicate a significant role and influence for CASC in the national project.

CASC and CASIC, the latter with a new industrial base established in Wuhan – have the capacity to manufacture LEO communication satellites.

China’s nascent private and commercial sector actors could potentially play a role in the project, although this is unclear.

Beijing-based commsat announcement On December 30, its 220 kilogram Ka and V broadband communications test satellite had successfully passed a factory exam. The company describes itself as an active participant in building satellite Internet infrastructure in China.

Another Beijing satellite communications company Galactic space meanwhile is preparing to launch a set of six LEO communications satellites in the first quarter of the year on a Long March 2C rocket.

The activity suggests a level of competition between non-state actors in China for possible involvement in the national satellite project. Demonstrating effective operations in orbit in the near future could be crucial.

The State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), which oversees the areas of space activities in the country, issued a note on promoting the orderly development of small satellites in May 2021 to provide a level of guidance to business enterprises. The opinion covers areas such as frequency use, production, in-orbit safety, launch applications and collision avoidance capabilities.

While plans to manufacture and deploy the national mega-constellation are unclear, China recently expressed concerns about SpaceX’s Starlink operations.

Beijing informed the United Nations in Vienna of two close approaches by two separate Starlink satellites operated by SpaceX to the Chinese manned space station, respectively in July and October 2021.

The note called on the UN to remind states of their international responsibility for national activities in outer space.