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China Launches Its First Broadband Satellites In Medium Earth Orbit

Late on Wednesday, China launched the first satellites in a constellation of broadband satellites in medium Earth orbit.

At 9:43 p.m. Eastern time on May 8 (0143 UTC on May 9), a Long March 3B rocket launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre located in southwest China. The Smart Skynet-1 (01) satellites A and B were revealed to be the mission payloads for the first time when the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) verified the launch’s success.

Shanghai Tsingshen Technology Development Co. Ltd. hired CASC’s Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) to develop the satellites. In 2018, Tsingshen Tech was established. It is working with the government of Shanghai and Tsinghua University to develop a constellation of medium-Earth orbit (MEO) broadband satellites.

According to SAST, Smart Skynet-1 (01) satellite A has an onboard digital processing and forwarding platform, an intersatellite two-way laser link, and a multi-beam, high-speed microwave link. An intersatellite laser link experiment payload is installed on satellite B. Satellite-to-ground transmission and flexible intersatellite link technology certification are examples of on-orbit activities.

Tsingshen Tech intends to establish a global communications network by first launching eight satellites into 20,000-kilometer MEO orbits. The MEO constellation of O3B is the closest approach to the constellation.

This can be increased to 16 satellites, or two groups of 16 satellites, and four groups of 32 satellites. The constellation, according to the business, would offer worldwide individualised network services with no blind spots once it is completed.

According to SAST, Smart SkyNet may be integrated with geostationary communications satellites and China’s low-Earth orbit megaconstellations. All user types across all scenarios and domains would have access to this.

The “Shanghai Action Plan to Promote Commercial Aerospace Development and Create a Space Information Industry Highland (2023-2025)” is the framework within which Smart SkyNet is being fostered. This is only one of several steps being taken at the local and provincial levels in China to promote growth and innovation in the commercial space industry. Satellites, launchers, and associated infrastructure and applications are all covered by different action plans.

Additionally, the city is supporting the “G60 Starlink” broadband megaconstellation project, which is based in Shanghai’s Songjiang District. By the time the project is finished, almost 12,000 satellites will be in orbit, with the first 108 expected to be launched this year.

China now has a number of constellation proposals with strong state support in a variety of orbits.

Plans to create an integrated constellation for navigation, communications, and remote sensing have also been discussed in the nation.

China launched on Wednesday, the 21st of 2024. It comes after this week’s debut of the Long March 6C and the launch of the Chang’e-6 sample return spacecraft, which has subsequently reached lunar orbit. This year, China plans to launch about 100 times.

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