China introduces an analogue of Starlink with 13 thousand satellites

China’s Internet satellite network will consist of 13,000 satellites
(photo: CC0 Public Domain)

China is preparing to deploy its own constellation of telecommunications satellites in low Earth orbit to provide broadband Internet access. The first instruments will go into space at the end of this year, and in total the constellation will include 13,000 satellites.

The project was awarded to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). The first batch of satellites will be launched into low Earth orbit by a Long March 5B launch vehicle and a Yuanzheng-2 second stage from the Wenchang coastal launch pad later this year.

Ultimately, China intends to build a satellite Internet system capable of competing with Western counterparts such as SpaceX’s Starlink, notes SpaceNews.

The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), CASC’s largest subsidiary, and the Innovation Microsatellite Academy (IAMCAS) will manufacture the project’s satellites. This year, 30 satellites will be launched into orbit. Other enterprises, including commercial ones, can be included in the project.

In recent years, China has significantly increased its capabilities in the production of miniature satellites. Currently, several enterprises in the country can create hundreds of spacecraft every year.

The list of manufacturers includes the aerospace company GalaxySpace and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC). Last year, GalaxySpace launched six test telecommunications satellites into low Earth orbit.

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