China successfully sends a new remote sensing satellite into space from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China on Feb 24, 2023. (Photo by Wang Jiangbo/for chinadaily.com.cn)
Cost-effective system to facilitate remote sensing with greater speed, accuracy
China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, a major space contractor, is planning to deploy a remote-sensing satellite network in low-altitude orbits, according to a project leader.
Song Xiaoming, president of the CASIC Second Academy, said that China intends to establish a space-based, high-performance infrastructure system for global remote-sensing operations.
Remote sensing refers to the process of detecting and monitoring the physical characteristics of an area by measuring its reflected and emitted radiation at a distance, typically from an aircraft or a satellite.
"To meet the urgent requirements of satellite systems that can obtain and transmit remote-sensing data with higher resolution and faster speed, the Second Academy will take advantage of our expertise in small satellite platforms, low-orbit communications and smart manufacturing technology to design, construct and operate a satellite network in extra-low-altitude orbits," he said.
The network will feature low construction and operational costs, a large fleet of space-based assets, and fast satellite production and deployment, so that it is able to compete with existing networks, Song said.
Compared with existing remote-sensing satellites, the new models will travel in orbits at altitudes ranging from 150 to 300 kilometers, which means they will be easier and cheaper to make and launch without compromising the remote-sensing resolution, he explained.
Currently, researchers at the academy's space engineering department are developing the first satellite for the network. It is expected to be ready for launch in September, but the exact schedule will be determined in due course, Song said.
The first satellite will be tasked with verifying extra-low-altitude orbiting, high-definition Earth-bound imaging, smart processing and data-to-user technologies, he added.
Song shared the information on the sidelines of the first session of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which opened in Beijing on Saturday. He is a member of the CPPCC National Committee, the country's top political advisory body.
The CASIC Second Academy is a major developer of low-orbit satellite systems in China. It deployed the country's first experimental low-orbit broadband communications system, which fulfilled in-orbit testing and produced a large quantity of data.
The academy also built China's first smart manufacturing plant for satellites in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. The factory has a full manufacturing capacity of 240 small satellites a year.