Two new corporations have been established to assist in the development of China’s national low Earth orbit communications megaconstellation, although overall plans remain hazy. According to Chinese language state media Science and Technology Daily, the Chongqing Satellite Network System Research Institute Co., Ltd. and China Satellite Network Application Co., Ltd. were formed in Chongqing Liangjiang New Area on 29th December to collectively create a satellite Internet sector system in Chongqing city.
Officials from China Satellite Network Group Co. Ltd., which was founded in April 2021 to lead the development of China’s national broadband constellation, as well as Chongqing local officials met to announce the companies. According to the assessment, Chongqing has benefits in terms of a strong economy, strategic location, and people resources, and connections to the Belt and Road project and Yangtze River Economic Belt, whilst satellite cluster was going to boost Chongqing’s economic and social development.
China’s national aim to create an LEO satellite internet constellation has taken another step forward with this breakthrough. The project would aim to fill communication gaps on the ground, give services to remote areas, and rival Western constellations that are now being planned and built. The China Satellite Network Group, on the other hand, has yet to reveal any information about the project or its prospective partners.
China intends a fleet of just below 13,000 satellites in (LEO) low Earth orbit to enable worldwide communications, according to ITU files from 2020. The idea looks to have widespread backing, including from the highest levels of government. In April 2020, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) added “satellite internet” to a list of “new infrastructures,” spurring provincial and local policies aimed at stimulating and bolstering satellite and space industry clusters in cities across the country, including Beijing, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Chengdu, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Xi’an, Changsha, and Wenchang, as well as the Yangtze Delta region.
An interconnected network of communications, navigation, and Earth observation satellites is called for in the newly authorized 14th Five-Year Plan for the years 2021-2026, as well as “long-range targets through 2035.” The new businesses aren’t the first in Chongqing to launch satellite internet services. CASC, the country’s principal space contractor, created Dongfanghong Satellite Mobile Communication Co. Ltd. in Chongqing Liangjiang New Area in late 2018 to handle CASC’s Hongyan LEO communications project.
More than 300 satellites were planned for Hongyan. CASC indicated that by 2022, it intends to have 60 satellites in orbit. In 2018, only one prototype, Hongyan-1, was released. Another LEO communications megaconstellation, Hongyan, and Hongyun, proposed by CASC’s fellow big state-owned defense organization, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), seems to have been overtaken by the national project.
The new companies’ location in the same area as CASC’s prior project, which attracted $3.14 billion in investment, could indicate a significant role and significance for CASC in the government initiative.