China Launches New Space Program to Rival Starlink

In the world of space technology, a new player has emerged to rival Elon Musk’s Starlink. Shanghai Lanjian Hongqing Technology (Hongqing Technology) from China is gearing up to launch a constellation of 10,000 satellites, hoping to compete with Musk’s Starlink, which currently operates with 6,000 satellites. Starlink offers internet services from space at speeds of up to 220 Mbps, benefiting from the lack of significant competition in the market.

Hongqing Technology, affiliated with the private manufacturer of Landspace missiles, is stepping into the arena with its Honghu-3 project. The company has submitted an application to the International Telecommunication Union to create a satellite network with 10,000 satellites in 160 orbital planes.

While the exact timeline for the deployment of the 10,000 satellites remains unknown, the Honghu project marks the third major initiative by Chinese companies to establish large-scale satellite constellations. This includes the National Guowang plan with 13,000 satellites and G60 Starlink with over 12,000 satellites. These projects are expected to synergize with China’s newest space program, Smart Skynet, adding to the competition against Starlink.

In early May, China successfully launched the first satellite for its Smart Skynet program, designed to create a global broadband internet network to go head-to-head with Elon Musk’s Starlink project.

Based in Shanghai, Hongqing Technology is renowned for its engine technologies, particularly in the Hall effect. The company is expanding its operations with a new production line in the city of Ep. The Jinwu-200 Hall Crypton Engine was tested successfully on the Honghu-2 satellite, launched last December using the Landspace Zhuque-2 rocket.

Landspace is also making strides with the Zhuque-3 rocket, a reusable carrier powered by liquid methane and oxygen. The maiden mission for the Zhuque-3 is expected in 2025, with the capability to lift payloads weighing around 21,000 kg into orbit.

To support its ambitious space plans, China is constructing a new commercial cosmodrome near Wenchang. This new launch site will enhance China’s ability to launch satellites, meeting the demand for mega satellite launches. However, the pursuit of dominance in the satellite internet market comes with potential risks for astronomy.

The growing number of satellite constellations can interfere with astronomical observations, creating light streaks that obstruct the view of stars and celestial objects. This hampers the capture of clear images of the universe and impacts space observation. Moreover, the increasing satellite presence heightens the risk of satellite obstruction in telescope

/Reports, release notes, official announcements.