China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp used its rocket to launch two technology demonstration satellites on Tuesday morning, starting to build what it conceives to be the nation's first space-based network for the internet of things, according to the company.
The Xingyun 2-01 and Xingyun 2-02, the first satellites in the Xingyun, or Moving Cloud, network, were lifted atop a Kuaizhou 1A solid-propellant carrier rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China and later placed in a sun-synchronous orbit 561 kilometers above the Earth, according to a statement from CASIC, a State-owned space and defense contractor.
The company said that the Xingyun 2-01 was also named Wuhan to honor the provincial capital of Central China's Hubei, a city that was hit hard by the new coronavirus outbreak. The rocket used in the mission was also painted with images of medical workers to salute doctors and nurses who fought against the highly infectious disease.
The two satellites are tasked with verifying technologies such as laser-enabled intersatellite communication and data transfer between satellites and ground-based internet of things.
In the next step, 12 Xingyun 2-series satellites will be launched to join the first two and then establish a small system for a trial run.
In CASIC's plan, the Xingyun network will have about 80 low-orbiting, narrowband communications satellites upon its completion around 2023 and will provide global coverage to users by that time.
Once the network becomes fully operational, it will offer users round-the-clock access to the internet of things, which is defined as a network of almost all physical items, bringing numerous advantages to users ranging from better control of their devices and higher operational efficiency to optimized utilization of resources, according to the State-owned conglomerate.