China Conducts Launch to Test Satellite Internet Capabilities

Heleniki — To test satellite internet technologies, China launched an unspecified number of satellites into space on Thursday.

On November 23, at 5:00 a.m. Eastern (1000 UTC), a Long March 2D rocket with a Yuanzheng-3 upper stage took out from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China. The payload’s nature was kept a secret until the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) proclaimed the launch successful.

The launch payload specifications were kept a secret. The launch contained a single “experiment satellite for satellite internet technologies,” according to Xinhua’s brief description.

However, according to a launch announcement from the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), independent spacecraft was created by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)-affiliated Innovation Academy for Microsatellites (IAMCAS) and SAST, respectively.

The number of objects linked to the launch that have been cataloged in orbit will eventually be made public through space object tracking provided by the U.S. Space Force’s space domain awareness teams.


Satellites Bearing

On July 9, two satellites bearing the same name took off from Jiuquan spaceport. A Long March 2C rocket with a YZ-1S upper stage was used for that launch. Even though two satellites were launched into space, Xinhua reiterated that only one was launched.

Testing for China’s national satellite internet megaconstellation project, known as Guowang, is the most likely use for the satellites.

13,000 satellites will be launched into low Earth orbit as part of the initiative, in response to Starlink and other upcoming LEO megaconstellations. Since 2019, SpaceX has launched 5,000 Starlink satellites into orbit. With international clearances pending, the company hopes to launch an additional 40,000 Starlinks.

It was once believed that Guowang had contracts with IAMCAS and the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), another significant CASC subsidiary, to produce satellites.

The year of 2023

Earlier in the year, CASC had declared its intention to start launching satellites in phases for Guowang. This might include modifying a Long March 5B rocket to use an upper stage from a Yuanzheng-2. Guowang is also considering high-density satellite launches on the Long March 8. Actors involved in Chinese commercial launches claim they are competing for project-related contracts as well.

In addition to offering internet and telecommunications services domestically, a communications megaconstellation might establish China as a global supplier of public goods, a rival system to other markets in the commercial sphere, and a source of resilient government and military communications.

China is also considering developing a space infrastructure system that combines remote sensing, navigation, and communications.

Meanwhile, support for yet another broadband megaconstellation has been declared by the Shanghai administration. There would be 1,296 satellites in the initial phase of the project.

China launched for the 54th time in 2023 on Thursday. Early in the year, CASC declared its intention to launch over 60 times. It has executed 40 launches thus far. The remaining 14 orbital launches this year have been carried out by commercial entities.

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