China’s first mid-orbit broadband communication satellite successfully launched.

On May 9, 2024, at 9:43 a.m., the Long March 3B carrier rocket successfully lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, placing the Smart SkyNet-1 satellite (A/B) into its designated orbit, marking a successful launch mission.

“Smart SkyNet” is a solution for a middle-orbit synchronous orbit satellite network proposed by Tsinghua University, and it has been included in the major science and technology projects of Shanghai Municipality. According to the design, eight middle-orbit broadband communication network satellites form a constellation deployed at an altitude of 20,000 kilometers, covering the globe and can be expanded on demand to 16 satellites (two sets), 32 satellites (four sets), and other configurations for broader network coverage.

Once the constellation is completed, it will provide personalized broadband network services with global coverage, and it will collaborate with low-orbit satellite internet and high-orbit satellite internet to build a unified Space-Earth 6G network, enabling access for various users in all scenarios and domains.

As the first middle-orbit broadband communication satellite in China, the Smart SkyNet-1 satellite consists of the technical validation A satellite and the backup test B satellite. It was developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. Its successful launch signifies a crucial first step in the comprehensive implementation of the Smart SkyNet innovation project.

The satellite will utilize technical innovations such as flexible beamforming between satellite and ground, inter-satellite high-speed laser links, and secure network protocols to conduct experiments in dynamic beam hopping on-demand services, high-capacity satellite processing and switching, meeting the needs of users for on-demand access, as well as interconnection between internet services and ground cellular services.

Simultaneously, typical applications will be demonstrated, including direct connection of domestic and Antarctic scientific research station data and real-time transmission of low-orbit satellite data, laying a solid foundation for building an innovative experimental platform for space networks and exploring industry application models for the Smart SkyNet.

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