China aerospace giant working on satellite clusters for global communications

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/2 22:13:40

China missile company works on global communications

China's giant State-owned aerospace company is eying the commercial end of the industry, with the idea of setting up a satellite company that can create a global Internet of Things (IoT).

Tan Qianhong, head of Sanjiang Space Industry Group, a China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation (CASIC) subsidiary research institute in Hubei Province, said that the new company will be in charge of a small low-earth-orbit satellite to form a group of satellites for narrow-band communications and improving communication in remote areas and at sea, according to a CASIC statement sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

"The small low-earth-orbit satellite constellations allow for Internet access and communications everywhere on the planet, including airplanes and ocean-going ships," said Wang Yanan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine.

Tan explained that researchers will have their own satellite design team and will buy satellites from outside, while the institute said that it already handed over a company plan to CASIC and is waiting for the results.

CASIC is the country's largest tactical and air defense missile manufacturer and therefore, the commercial end of the aerospace business is a new field.

"CASIC already has advanced rocket and missile technology and it is just taking one step further in exploring the satellite market, which could bring market value and greater use of their missile and rocket technology," said Wang.

A first Xingyun satellite project, developed by the CASIC research institute, was successfully sent aloft in January, China News Service reported.

This Xingyun project bears some similarities with the new company proposal because it also contained plans for narrow-band satellite constellations, China News Service reported.

Network receipt terminals can be embedded in a number of devices for the global mobile IoT, or existing smart phones to allow users to send or receive text messages from any location.

In March, CASIC announced plans for a network of 156 mini-satellites for greater global broadband coverage. It will be China's first low-orbiting satellite network, about 1,000 kilometers above the earth, as part of a wider commercial space development project, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Plans call for sending the first satellite aloft before 2018, and four more by 2020, for a constellation. By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), all 156 satellites will be in operation, said Xinhua.

The institute also said that it had developed the country's first reflection-control equipment for the satellites, for optical communications by changing a laser's direction and to point it at another satellite, without changing the satellite's position.

Newspaper headline: Aerospace giant eyes satellites


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