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China recently successfully launched its first communications satellite with flexible solar panels. There were also three remote sensing satellites onboard the Long March-2D rocket launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.
China has been pushing for space dominance and declared its intent to launch a constellation of communication satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) to power space-based internet services.
According to Interesting Engineering, this revolutionary new plate-like communication satellite is called Lingxi-03 and was developed by GalaxySpace. It includes a processor to allocate resources and an active thermal control fluid circuit that can function like an air-conditioning unit and regulate the spacecraft’s temperature. The plate-like satellite is equipped with a millimeter-wave multi-beam digital payload with a capacity of tens of gigabits per second. It will be used to verify technologies, including the next generation of low-Earth orbit broadband satellite communication.
Furthermore, the scientists behind the mission achieved a major feat with the single-layer flexible solar panel, which is 1 mm thick spread out and no more than 5 cm thick when rolled up. When the satellite was deployed, the panel extended to a length of 9 meters and had a width of 2.5 meters. The flexible nature of the solar panels also provides a larger surface area enabling the absorption of more solar energy.
The chief scientist of GalaxySpace spoke about China’s plans with the satellite constellation, explaining that it will address issues of coverage and bandwidth, as well as complement the 5G internet technology on the ground.
Furthermore, it seems that the satellites would support a demand for global networks that are not limited by geography or modes of transport. Providing fast internet with 6G communication technology will allow mobile phones to connect directly to satellites.