Private satellite firm building factory in China
Published: Sep 02, 2020 12:02 AM

The effect view of Commsat’s in-orbit satellite Photo: Courtesy of Commsat

Commsat, a Chinese commercial space start-up, announced Tuesday that it has started to build a satellite factory in China with annual production of more than 100 satellites, which will weigh more than 100 kilograms each.

The program, in Tangshan, North China's Hebei Province, marks the first major project in the commercial space sector since satellite internet was added to a list of "new infrastructure" to receive government support.

Construction of the facility is expected to be completed in 2021, Commsat told the Global Times Tuesday.

The Beijing-based private satellite company, funded by CASSTAR, is one of the early players in the domestic satellite internet sector.

The new facility will introduce intelligent industrial production lines into the satellite manufacturing field, which will change the traditional manufacturing model and serve the national satellite internet "new infrastructure" construction requirement.

The facility is expected to develop into a world-leading satellite manufacturing and research and development base.

In 2018, the start-up launched eight satellites and saw their successful operation, taking the lead in realizing independent development and in-orbit verification of a private firm's 100-kilogram satellite.

The decade between 2020 and 2030 is believed to be a key period for satellite internet, according to industry observers.

According to domestic consulting platform, as of the end of December 2019, the number of satellites in orbit around the world was 2,218. In the next 10 years, the number is expected to expand 10-fold, and the increase will mainly come from low-orbit communication satellites.

Huang Zhicheng, a veteran expert in the space industry, told the Global Times Tuesday that China has been paying a lot of attention to the development of satellite internet as it has great significance in the communications for aviation and navigation, as well as in military use.

State-owned firms have played the dominant role in the satellite internet sector so far, but private firms still have the opportunity to participate in large satellite projects that will have military application as the nation advocates the fusion of the military and civil sector, said Huang.

"The US has realized primary application of satellite internet at a rapid pace, and China is trying to catch up," he added.

On August 18, US-based SpaceX launched its 11th batch of Starlink broadband satellites into orbit, bring the total number of Starlink satellites put into orbit to date at over 653 (plus two test satellites).

Starlink is SpaceX's internet connectivity constellation, which started in 2015.