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China to Launch first Satellite for LEO Constellation System
SOURCE: China Space News     UPDATED: 2018-03-12

BEIJING, Mar. 10 (China Space News) -- China plans to launch the first satellite for a low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation system, which is expected to be completed by the year 2023, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

The satellite constellation system will enable mobile communication to be accessible in all places, said Zhang Hongtai, president of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) under the CASC Wednesday.

The satellite constellation system, named "Hongyan" (literally translated as "swan goose"), will consist of more than 300 satellites, along with data processing centers.

"The time has come for building a 300-plus-satellite constellation network, which is made up of 54 core and backbone satellites and 270 other smaller satellites for coordination. We will launch the first satellite in 2018," said Zhang.

The satellite constellation system will be built in three stages. The first satellite will be launched this year. It will operate at an altitude of 1,100 km in the low-Earth orbit to test the availability of LEO frequency resources and data forwarding services.

Zhang said they will launch six satellites before the end of 2020 to test a local area network. When all the 54 satellites are launched by the year 2023, the network will have the global communications and data collecting abilities.