Jiading-1, China’s first privately owned nanosatellite, was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 7:40am yesterday.
Jiading-1, designed and made in Shanghai, is the first satellite of Xiangyun, a communication constellation. Intended for low Earth orbit, it was launched on a Long March-2D carrier rocket along with three other nanosatellites and a new space environment research satellite.
A nanosatellite enables its operator to capture diverse markets with its ability to change things like frequency bands and coverage areas on demand.
Among the four nanosatellites, Tianping-1A and Tianping-1B will be used for equipment calibration on ground control stations, and Shiyan-6 will be used for conducting space environment exploration experiments, Xinhua news agency said.
The satellites have successfully entered their preset orbit, according to the center.
It was also the 292nd mission of the Long March carrier rocket series.
Jiading-1 will help in providing communication services, especially at places where ordinary communication signals find it difficult to reach in areas such as open sea and remote mountainous areas.
It is expected to help with the data transmission of marine meteorology and communication between workers and engineers at offshore oilfields.
By 9:16am, the first set of data sent back by Jiading-1 was received in Xinjiang, showing the successful opening of the satellite’s panel.
According to Space OK, the Shanghai-based company which designed and made the satellite, Jiading-1 will be in pace for three years and pioneer the constellation network.
Space OK is a startup that was set up in 2014, the same year when President Xi Jinping urged Shanghai to become a science and technology innovation hub in China.
Before that, private satellite was non-existent in China.
“The goal of Space OK is to make a satellite that will allow everyone in this country to use its services,” said Ma Lu, CEO of Space OK.
It took the company two years from setting up the project to carry out the launch. During the research and development process, the company set up a standardized system of commercial satellite platform that laid the foundation for others to follow. It also overcame problems such as the self-management of the satellite in the orbit and the compatibility design of the payload of the satellite.
Compared with traditional communication satellites, which usually weigh in tons, Jiading-1 only weighs 45 kilograms. The cost of building a nanosatellite was also under 10 million yuan (US$1.44 million), making it affordable for ordinary firms.
“We have tried to lower the cost of building a satellite from billion yuan to million,” said Liang Xuwen, president of Space OK.
Fanvol Machine Technology is among those who will benefit from the lower cost of nanosatellites.
“Many of our machines are located in remote areas where communication signal is poor,” said Wang Yongbiao, general manager of Fanvol. “With lower prices of communication services, we can do our jobs better.”
At an exhibition on civilian-military dual-use technology in October, Space OK’s Jia Qilong told Shanghai Daily that around 40 satellites will be launched by 2022.
Each satellite in the constellation will follow a separate orbit with a specific range, according to Fan Tianjiao, market executive of Space OK.
Along with the data transmitted back to the Earth, they will form a web around the globe that leaves no dead angle.