China Commences Construction of Ultra-Low Orbit Satellite Constellation

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Limited (CASIC) has officially begun the construction of an ultra-low orbit satellite constellation. The announcement was made at the 9th China (International) Commercial Aerospace Forum in Wuhan, Hubei Province. The first satellite of the constellation is set to be launched in December and will carry payloads such as an optical remote sensing camera, spaceborne intelligent processing equipment, and an atomic oxygen detector.

An ultra-low orbit refers to an orbital altitude of less than 300 kilometers. This type of orbit presents technical challenges due to the complex dynamic environment and the rapid decay of the satellite orbit caused by heightened atmospheric drag. However, ultra-low orbits have significant value as they allow for near observation, which has lower costs, higher resolution, and shorter transmission delays compared to remote sensing.

The ultra-low orbit satellite constellation being developed by CASIC aims to achieve a spatial resolution of 0.5 meters and transmit spatial information to users within 15 minutes. This constellation will provide effective data support for emergency rescue, fire monitoring, disaster prevention, and alleviation work.

CASIC plans to launch a nine-satellite cluster by 2024 and complete a network of 192 satellites in orbit by 2027. By 2030, they expect to have 300 satellites operating in orbit, providing diversified and real-time remote sensing services, and achieving global 15-minute response capabilities.

This project marks China’s commitment to advancing its capabilities in the commercial satellite industry and expanding its presence in space technology.