The Chinese military controls the country’s satellite networks, but in 2014, the government started to allow private involvement in the nation’s space business. Since then, commercial enterprises have raced into the industry, some funded by local governments, with the bulk focusing on satellite manufacturing and the rest seeking to create tiny launch vehicles, including reusable rockets.
Through a subsidiary called Geespace, Geely, a privately held firm and one of China’s leading automobile manufacturers, led the creation of the GeeSAT satellites. Geely announced in a post-launch media release that a base station got signals from all 9 satellites after they were in orbit, verifying the spacecraft’s functionality.
The nine GeeSAT 1 satellites were launched from the Xichang space facility in Sichuan province, southern China, at 0400 GMT (12 a.m. EDT) on board a Long March 2C rocket on Thursday. The launch was declared a success after the 9 satellites were sent into low Earth orbit by the 2-stage, 42-meter (138-foot-tall) Long March launcher. The Long March 2C rocket was seen flying southeast from Xichang, aiming for a mid-inclination orbit, according to airspace warning alerts.
The satellites are the inaugural in the Geely Future Mobility Constellation, which is a network meant to assist self-driving cars to travel autonomously and provide vehicle-to-vehicle communication links. The network, according to Geely, would supply self-driving cars with centimeter-level positional data, enabling the company’s automotive brands to “realize true autonomous driving.”
The Geely constellation’s first 72 satellites, including the 9 spacecraft launched on Thursday, will be deployed by 2025, according to the corporation. The fleet will be expanded by 168 satellites in a second deployment phase. Last year, a launch mishap resulted in the loss of Geely’s first two prototype satellites.
According to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., China’s largest state-owned space firm, the satellites will carry multispectral, remote sensing, navigation, communications, and payloads. Geely got its start thanks to CASC subsidiaries.
The satellites, according to Geely, are planned to have a five-year lifetime and will return to Earth’s atmosphere at the close of their missions, when they are going to burn out without leaving any space trash behind. Geely said that the first GeeSAT satellites will deliver positioning data, communications, and remote sensing data meant for 2022 Asian Games. The spacecraft will also aid in the protection of the maritime ecosystem.
Geely claims that the satellite system will first serve the Asia-Pacific area before expanding to worldwide coverage after 2026. Volvo, a Swedish carmaker, and the Geely auto brands, both manufactured in China, are among the holding group’s companies. JiDU is a new electric vehicle joint venture supported by Baidu, a Chinese internet business, and Geely, a Chinese conglomerate. Baidu is dubbed the “Google of China” by many. Baidu owns 55 percent ownership in JiDU, while Shanghai Maple Automobile Company Limited, a business in which Geely is the dominant stakeholder, owns the remaining 45 percent.
JiDU’s objective is to develop and create a smart robotic, human-centric vehicle utilizing AI-powered human-machine interface technology as a new electric vehicle firm in a highly competitive market. The vehicle will be able to learn and provide greater autonomous driving abilities, which might be aided by a system of orbiting satellites.