China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, the nation's largest missile developer, plans to build a space-based information network that will provide global coverage.
Liu Shiquan, deputy general manager of the State-owned space and defense giant, said on Monday the company will put 156 communications satellites into low Earth orbit, at an altitude of 160 to 2,000 km. Each satellite of the network will be able to transmit 500 mega-bytes of data per second.
"We will launch a satellite this year to demonstrate the technologies for the Hongyun Project. Before 2019, four satellites will have been put into space to conduct trial operations. The rest will follow in 2019 and 2020, ensuring that the whole network will be built before 2021," he said at the Second China Commercial Aerospace Forumin Wuhan, Hubei province.
"When the Hongyun system becomes operational, users around the world will be able to connect with broadband internet anytime and anywhere, even from on board an aircraft or a ship or in a remote area," Liu said.
Yang Yuguang, secretary of the International Astronautical Federation's Space Transportation Committee, said that most of the world's communications satellites today operate in the geosynchronous orbit at about 36,000 km above Earth.
"The prospect that the Hongyun satellites will operate in low Earth orbit will give them a lower probability of data transmission delays," he said. "That will strongly facilitate users' access to the internet around the globe."
Zhang Di, deputy head of the Fourth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, said Chinese internet giants such as Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, as well as State-owned telecom companies like China Telecom, have contacted his company to explore cooperation opportunities.
In addition to the Hongyun system, Liu said, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp has begun developing a reusable combined-powered spacecraft for commercial space activities that it is expected to be put to service after 2030.
He disclosed that his company is also researching a large electromagnetic acceleration system capable of lifting futuristic electrically propelled rockets or traditional liquid-fueled rockets.
Yang said the electro magnetic launch system will help save fuel and boost thrust.