China launches first low-Earth-orbit satellite

By Zhang Han Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/22 13:25:21

China launched its first low-Earth-orbit satellite at 7:51 am on Saturday at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China's Gansu Province, making substantial progress in the country's construction of a satellite communications system.  

The satellite - the first to be launched as part of China's Hongyun Project, which focuses on communication, remote sensing and navigation - will serve as a low-orbit base for future internet tests and applications, according to a statement sent by the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation (CASIC) to the Global Times on Saturday. 

The satellite carries a spectral thermometer that can achieve high-level atmospheric temperature detection. The satellite also carries an automatic ship identification system (AIS), automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system and a data collection system (DCS), which can detect the location of ships and aircrafts and has a wide variety of applications for scientific research, environment, maritime and air traffic control, according to the statement.

The Hongyun Project, which was announced in 2017, will launch four more satellites to gain preliminary experience by 2020. CASIC expects to have a total of 156 satellites in operation by the middle of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), said the statement.

The project can offer communication and internet services for China and less-developed countries with reduced latency. Meanwhile, the project can also benefit emergency communication, sensor data collection and remote control of unmanned equipment, CASIC said in 2017.

International maritime satellites currently are widely used for communications in mountainous areas and for airplanes, but these satellites, some 36,000 kilometers above the Earth, have time and signal delays as well as high costs for providing services, Yang Yuguang, a research fellow with CASIC, said when the company announced the plan in 2017.


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