ADASpace set to star in AI satellite constellation sphere

By Wang Yi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/30 19:33:41

Visitors look at the Beidou navigation satellite constellation during a science show in March. Photo: VCG

A private Chinese company plans to build the country's first artificial intelligence (AI) satellite constellation, which will have stronger autonomous operating capacity and improve efficiency in applications including natural disaster responses.

To evaluate how existing telecom standards and AI solutions can be leveraged to manage future satellite constellations is a positive attempt. This ambitious plan by a private company shows how China's aerospace industry is thriving, according to analysts.

ADASpace, based in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, specializes in satellite design and data services. It signed a strategic agreement on Saturday with a launch vehicle producer for its Xingshidai plan, which aims to build an AI constellation by 2021.

The first AI constellation will consist of 192 satellites equipped with AI systems. This constellation, with strong autonomous operating capacity,  will play a greater role in natural disaster responses, environmental protection monitoring and transportation industry, the company said.

Every satellite in the Xingshidai constellation will have the capacity to independently operate, and the constellation as a whole will have a self-coordination function, Wang Long, project manager for the plan at ADASpace, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"The coordinated smart system will independently analyze the data it obtains rapidly and decide what data should be sent back to the ground, or what orders it should carry out for the next step. This could shorten the time that would otherwise be needed to receive orders from the ground for every little move," Wang said.

The constellation will be comprised of remote sensing satellites with varied resolution ratios of 5, 1 and 0.5 meters. 

Spacety, a satellite start-up based in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan Province, is one of ADASpace's supplying partners that produce satellites for the project.

ADASpace has strong AI research capacity, and the applications of AI satellite constellations are promising. Efficiency will be hugely improved and there are vast market prospects, Yang Feng, CEO of Spacety, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Huang Zhicheng, an expert on space technology, told the Global Times on Sunday that the Xingshidai project is a positive exploration of AI constellation management, which represents rapid development of China's thriving aerospace industry.

However, Huang noted that to fully realize AI management of satellite constellations, China still needs to make technology breakthroughs in key areas including chips, radar and optical devices.


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