China plans to launch a test satellite for a global communications constellation by the end of this year.
The Hongyun project, launched by CASIC in September 2016, has the goal of building a space-based communications network of 156 small satellites in orbit about 1,000 kilometers above the Earth. It would become operational about 2022.
Researchers are designing the Hongyun satellite and will finish the design this year, Zhang said.
After the technology demonstration satellite, the academy will lift four Hongyun satellites by the end of 2020 to form a small network for the project’s trial run, according to Zhang. He said once the trial run proves successful, CASIC will start to launch the Hongyun satellites to establish a global constellation.
When the Hongyun project is complete, it will cover the whole world and offer round-the-clock communication services to users in polar regions, who now have difficulties accessing telecommunication and internet services, Zhang said.
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China conducted its first launch of 2018 on Tuesday when a Long March 2D booster lofted a pair of SuperView imaging satellites into polar orbit for Beijing Space View Technology. The rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.
“Success! We’re thrilled to announce the successful launch of SuperView-1 03&04 satellites at 11:26 this morning in Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center!” the company tweeted.
The launch doubled the number of high-resolution SuperView satellites the company has on orbit. It plans to sell imagery on the global market.
GBTimes reports China could launch more than 40 times in 2018, which would be a substantial increase over the 18 launches the nation conducted last year.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), announced at a conference on January 2 that its 2018 work model includes 35 launches, underlining the return to flight of the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket, the Chang’e-4 lunar far side mission and launches of Beidou navigation satellites as the major activities.
In addition CASIC, a defence contractor, missile maker and sister company of CASC, will carry out a number of missions through its subsidiary EXPACE, including launching four Kuaizhou-1A rockets within one week and the maiden flight of the larger Kuaizhou-11.
Landspace Technology, a Beijing-based private aerospace company, is also expected to debut its LandSpace-1 solid propellant rocket this year.
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CASIC Rocket Technology Company, also known as EXPACE, reports that it has raised 1.2 billion yuan ($181.5 million) to develop its Kuaizhou family of satellite launchers, Xinhua reports.
CASIC Rocket Technology Company, based in the central city of Wuhan, said it signed fund raising agreements with eight investment institutions at the Shanghai United Assets and Equity Exchange Monday.
Zhang Di, vice president of China Sanjiang Space Group and chairman of CASIC Rocket Technology, said the original shareholders did not participate in the capital raising.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announced last week that it plans to launch a reusable space plane capable of taking off and landing on a runway around the year 2020.
Unlike traditional one-off spacecraft, the new spacecraft will fly into the sky like an aircraft, said Chen Hongbo, a researcher from the corporation. The spacecraft can transport people or payload into the orbit and return to Earth.
China introduced a new commercial rocket this week aimed at the small satellite market with the successful launch of three satellites.
The solid fuel Kuaizhou 1A rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Monday. It carried the JL-1 commercial Earth observation satellite and two experimental CubeSats named Canton-1 and XS-Y1, according to the official Xinhau news agency.
It was the third flight for the Kuaizhou booster, but the first commercial launch under Expace, which is a commercial subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.
Kuaizhou 1A is capable of lifting up to 200 ( 441 lb) into sun synchronous orbit and 300 kg (661 lb) into low Earth orbit. Expace is targeting the booster at the booming small satellite market.