- China is competing with Elon Musk in the space race.
- Next month, China will launch the first satellites in a new low-orbit network.
- The 300 satellites will orbit at a much lower altitude than their competitors.
The Chinese company plans to launch the first of 300 satellites in a very low orbit next month in a constellation competing with Elon Musk’s Starlink network.
The planned constellation will ultimately consist of 300 communication and remote sensing satellites, CGTN reported.
According to the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp website, it plans to place 192 satellites in orbit by 2027, and 300 by 2030.
Compared to Musk’s satellite network, which orbits at an altitude of about 550 kilometers, China’s satellites will orbit at an altitude of about 300-450 kilometers per minute. Bloomberg.
Satellites in very low Earth orbit (VLEO) are more susceptible to interference from Earth’s gravitational pull. More of them are needed to ensure maximum connectivity.
However, these types of satellites are smaller and cheaper to make, are less likely to collide with space debris and provide better connections, tests found.
The launch will be the latest step forward in China’s space program and another cause for concern among U.S. defense experts.
China recently launched its own crewed space station, announced plans to build a base on the Moon, and beat SpaceX and Amazon Blue Origin to launching a methane-fueled rocket into orbit.
Since 2019, China has also doubled the number of satellites to more than 700, about a third of which are used for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance purposes, according to Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman.
But for now, China lags far behind Elon Musk’s Starlink constellation.
SpaceX currently has more than 5,000 satellites and intends to accelerate its launch schedule next year. Musk says he eventually plans to create a constellation of 42,000 satellites.
SpaceX is planning the second launch of its giant Starship rocket this weekend. It will be able to carry a new generation of larger Starlink satellites.
Musk said more than 1,000 changes were made to the rocket to prevent it from blowing up, as it did during the first test in April.