China organized a state-owned company to create an analogue of Starlink and control the national "mega-constellations"

China organized a state-owned company to create an analogue of Starlink and control the national "mega-constellations"
China organized a state-owned company to create an analogue of Starlink and control the national "mega-constellations"

Within the framework of the 14th five-year plan (2021-2026), the People's Republic of China is going to create its own analogue of Starlink - a low-orbit satellite constellation for the provision of communication services. In order to bring the implementation of these plans closer, a specialized state-owned company has already been organized in the Celestial Empire. In addition to monitoring the "party" constellation of nearly 13 thousand devices, she will oversee other large families of devices developed by private organizations.

China organized a state-owned company to create an analogue of Starlink and control the national "mega-constellations"

According to the SpaceNews portal, a chain of recent events speaks of Beijing's rather serious intentions in this area. At the end of April, the State Property Control and Management Committee of China (SASAC) announced the creation of a separate company with the straightforward name of China Satellite Network Group Co. Ltd ("China Satellite Network Group"). The tasks of this organization, completely controlled by the Communist Party, will include overseeing the implementation of plans to deploy a colossal satellite constellation ("mega-constellation").

Its approximate parameters are known from a notification that Chinese regulators sent to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) last fall. The mega-constellation will consist of two large constellations of satellites providing broadband Internet access via radio. They will be placed in orbits with an altitude of 500 to 1145 kilometers and an inclination of 30-85 degrees. The total number of devices is 12 992, they will work in several frequency ranges at once. The name of the satellite family is GW, or Guowang.

Remarkably, this project will cause a major change in the plans of the two main aerospace state-owned companies in China. Earlier, there were hints that the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) will each create their own mega-constellation of communication satellites - Hongyan and Hongyun, respectively. Moreover, both CASC and CASIC managed to launch several technological demonstrators for these groups of orbiters.

But now, as follows from the statement of the head of China Spacesat, a division of CASC, the future of Hongyan and Hongyun is in question. After the creation of the China Satellite Network Group and the start of work on Guowang, the implementation of other state-owned communications satellite constellations will either be canceled altogether or redesigned for more narrow tasks. Nevertheless, it is still not clear who exactly will be engaged in the development and production of almost 13 thousand devices for GW. So far, it is only known for certain that the new state-owned company itself is based in the recently rebuilt Xiong'an district in the Baoding city district. Many technological and administrative institutions of the Celestial Empire are located there.

With the timing, too, not everything is clear. The Starlink analogue is indirectly included in the 14th Five-Year Plan as long-term goals for 2035. More precisely, it mentions the creation of an "integrated satellite network for communications, remote sensing of the Earth and navigation." That is, it can be assumed that Guowang will be a multifunctional mega-star. Or it will include vehicles of the same type with different payloads (which looks reasonable, in fact).

Most interestingly, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for Defense of China (SASTIND) recently published an interesting announcement aimed at small satellite developers. The document contains guidelines that must be followed when creating constellations and single orbiters. Among them are the rules for the use of radio frequencies, production standards, operational safety, launch issues, collision avoidance and even minimization of space debris.

Surprisingly, what is missing in the recommendations is the requirements for the albedo of satellites, that is, the amount of light reflected by them. It is assumed that the control over the implementation of the recommendations will be entrusted to the China Satellite Network Group, but so far there has been no official confirmation of this information.

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