China to initiate works on its broadband mega constellation later this year

The country is set to develop a 13,000-satellite low-Earth orbit network in the next few years
Jijo Malayil
A rocket launch
A rocket launch


In a move to challenge the domination of SpaceX's Starlink, China is reported to be in preparation to construct a broadband mega constellation. According to a report by Space News, the country will soon launch an array of low-Earth satellites to further the mission. 

Reports have suggested that Yuanzheng-2 second-stage propulsion technology will be used for the first time by China on its Long March 5B, which is its heavy-lift launch vehicle, for lift-off from China's Wenchang facility in the second half of the year. A statement from the country's primary space contractor, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) in March confirmed that the new Long March 5B and upper stage configuration would be used to launch satellites for a low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network.

According to Space News, the country is set to develop a 13,000-satellite low Earth orbit (LEO) broadband mega constellation in the next few years.

A force to reckon with in the coming decade 

Chinese satellite operator China Satcom could make less of an impact on the global stage till now and has primarily focused on serving internal requirements from satellites positioned in geostationary orbits. 

Things are set to change in the next five to 10 years as the country focuses to deploy a global network of low-Earth orbit satellites. A project with support from the government could be a game changer and make it difficult for the competition in the western world to catch up, especially in parts of the world where Chinese influence is strong. Such an ambitious plan would hinder other international constellation operators from expanding their international subscribers. 

Records have that that Chinese space missions have more than quadrupled over the past decade, with more than 60 launches in just 2022. 

Clear targets set to further the mission

The task of forming the mega constellation is mainly borne by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a main subsidiary of CASC, and the Innovation Academy for Microsatellites (IAMCAS) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, according to Space News. 

IAMCAS is expected complete work on its allotted number of 30 satellites for the project towards the end of 2023. Other and potentially commercial setups could also be involved in the project. Firms like GalaxySpace and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) are also entrusted to develop satellites for the mission with the former already completing the launch of six low-Earth test satellites in 2022. 

According to Space News, CASC’s main rocket-making arm is mainly involved in the process of readying the Long March 5B rocket for a high-density launch mission, one that meets China's needs for future missions. The tasks include the production of the required kerosene-liquid oxygen engines used in auxiliary boosters. 

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