This is a guest post published on behalf of Yuxin Liu, PhD candidate at the department of Astrodynamics and Space Missions, TU Delft.
During this unprecedented time all over the world, a Chinese space company called Commsat (company website, English version available) has brought some good news to the sector. It recently announced the completion of Series B financing for an amount equivalent to approximately 33.7 million Euros.
This article introduces the company with a particular focus on its products. At the end of this article a brief introduction of Tianwen-1 (the China Mars mission in July 2020) and New Infrastructure (a national development project including space technology) is given. A more in-depth piece about Tianwen-1 is also planned – so please watch this space!
Since it was founded in 2015 Commsat has launched 8 satellites. The first set of satellites validated the platform and the system developed by the company. If all goes to plan Commsat intends to deploy more than 70 additional satellites by the end of 2020.
As shown in the following figure, Commsat’s commercial service supports properties, animals and heavy machinery tracking, marine activities, transportation, and emergency rescue among other applications. These services are provided to companies and organizations such as Sany Heavy Industry Co., CITIC discastal Co. and Bifengxia Panda Base.
Besides these core services Commsat also offers full satellite development in a one-stop-shop solution.
In the sections below we take a closer look at the product and service portfolio of Commsat.
1. The Ladybeetle series
This series consists of CubeSats in different sizes, 6U and 3U. Six CubeSats have been delivered and several key techniques, e.g. Internet of Things (IoT) and mass production, have been validated. The management software for these satellites is developed independently.
2. Communication satellites
This series adopts the same platform as Ladybeetle with a cutting-edge communication technique that has been validated. Importantly, the capability of efficient mass production of low-cost satellites is proven in the development of these models. The satellites weigh approximately 100 kilograms.
3. Satcom Terminals
This terminal enables atmospheric and marine environment monitoring, remote control, and the forecasting of natural hazards. A customized service is also available. A constellation of these satellites is currently planned which will provide a global service.
Tracking necklaces for animals
This device is designed for species reintroduction, grazing management or scientific research. In order to track and protect animals, it collects location information as well as temperature and moisture data. The 450 gram device could work effectively for 2 years.
China’s Mars mission and the ‘New infrastructure project’
China recently announced further details on its first Mars mission Tianwen-1, to be launched in July 2020. The probe has two modules: an orbiter and a lander. The lander carries a rover which is designed to stay for 3 months on Mars. More details will be disclosed in a future article.
In addition, a new venture called the ‘New infrastructure project’ has also been announced by the Chinese government. This programme will provide an investment of up to 34 trillion RMB (around 4.3 trillion Euros) into important emerging fields such as 5G, IoT and cloud computing.
In good news for the space industry, satellite internet is incorporated into the project and I expect commercial space to significantly benefit.
For more on the space industry in China take a look at Yuxin’s article on the Long March 5B mission here.