China plans to build a huge network of satellites in near-Earth orbit to provide Internet services to users worldwide.
The venture will rival billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink.
The project is codenamed “GW,” according to a team led by Professor Xu Can of the People’s Liberation Army Space Engineering University in Beijing.
The GW constellation will include nearly 13,000 satellites from the newly created China Satellite Network Group.
The launch schedule for these satellites is still unknown, but the number would rival Starlink’s scale of more than 12,000 satellites by 2027.
Xu’s team said that the GW satellite constellation will likely be deployed quickly, “before the completion of Starlink.”
This would “ensure that our country has a place in low orbit and prevent the Starlink constellation from over-appropriating low orbit resources,” Xu Can said.
Chinese satellites could also be placed in “orbits where the Starlink constellation has not yet reached,” the researcher said, adding that they would “gain opportunities and advantages at other orbital altitudes, and even suppress the Starlink.”
Chinese satellites can be equipped with an anti-Starlink payload to perform various missions, such as “short-range and long-term surveillance of Starlink satellites,” he said.
A recent study by China’s National Space Administration called for cooperation and said that competing networks of communication satellites could harm each other.
According to Musk’s plans, the Starlink network, with more than 3,000 satellites in orbit, is expected to grow to more than 40,000 satellites.
With information from Revista Oeste