Private Chinese company to develop Starlink-like 5G network, according to media reports

According to the South China Morning Post, a Chinese private company is planning to develop a constellation of satellites akin to Starlink for Chinese hypersonic craft.
Christopher McFadden
The 5G network will provide internet to remote areas and support China's hypersonic program.


According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), a Beijing-based company wants to build an internet satellite service comparable to SpaceX's Starlink for China’s hypersonic flight program. China's hypersonic flight initiative aims to create cutting-edge hypersonic drones or aircraft that can fly at Mach 5 or higher. Dependable communication systems are crucial for these high-speed vessels to be controlled and operated safely.

Called GalaxySpace, according to some space experts, it is "somewhat unusual" for a commercial company to participate in China's hypersonic program. This is because China’s hypersonic flight program is normally used for military purposes. Others hailed the action as a significant step forward, emphasizing how private sector innovation may enhance the nation's space capabilities.

The Chinese peer-reviewed journal Space-Integrated-Ground Information Networks released information about an early experiment in low earth orbit (LOE) to assess the technology's viability last month. According to the research team, which included the company's chief scientist, Zhang Shijie, they could maintain uninterrupted bidirectional data transfer between six GalaxySpace satellites and a quickly moving terminal for about 25 minutes.

The results suggest the technology has the potential “to provide reliable communication services for high mobility aerospace craft in long-range and high dynamic environments, including hypersonic drones or spacecraft traveling at high speeds.”

According to Zhang and his colleagues, the new technique was developed to address the difficulties in maintaining solid links with highly dynamic, fast-moving spacecraft. They claimed that the GalaxySpace innovation looks to maintain a solid connection even during satellite changeovers. Traditional satellite communication systems may find it challenging to do so under similar circumstances.

The study team noted that more testing and development would be required to confirm the technology's potential for providing broadband internet service to hypersonic drones or aircraft traveling up to Mach 25. Like SpaceX's Starlink, which uses a constellation of satellites to offer continuous coverage and allow high-speed data transfer, the GalaxySpace system would be built on a low-earth orbit broadband satellite internet architecture. The scientists claim that the GalaxySpace satellites can transmit and receive radio beams in a way that dynamically adjusts to changes in the craft's position and speed.

The system also incorporates a terminal design that is well-suited for deployment on hypersonic drones or aircraft because of its small size and low power consumption. Since it was established in 2016, GalaxySpace, formally known as YinheHangtian (Beijing) Telecommunication Technology C. Ltd., has been a relative newbie among the private sector operators assisting China to compete with US rivals like SpaceX.

According to the SCMP, more research and testing will be required to confirm whether similar links may be made with hypersonic aircraft while in flight. To further validate the technology, the researchers claimed they are creating communication terminals that can be directly attached to hypersonic drones and are planning additional test flights.

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