Long March 2C launches 9 navigation satellites for Chinese automaker

(ORDO NEWS) — A Long March 2C booster launched nine positioning and communications satellites on Thursday, the first step towards building a constellation to support autonomous driving for automaker Geely.

The Long March 2C rocket lifted off from the Xichang Space Center in southwest China at 12:00 local time. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) confirmed the success of the launch, reporting that the payload was GeeSAT-5 (01-09) for Geespace.

Geespace is a subsidiary of the automaker Geely Technology Group, which pioneered the design, manufacture and operation of low-orbit commercial satellites.

All nine satellites functioned correctly after making contact with the Korla ground station, Geespace confirmed in a press release.

The nine satellites are part of the planned Geely Future Mobility Constellation, which will consist of 240 satellites. The first line of 72 satellites is planned to be sent into orbit by 2025, followed by the second line of 168 satellites.

Geespace says the satellites will provide centimeter-level positioning and communications support for Geely-branded vehicles to support autonomous driving.

Each satellite will have a service life of five years and is described as a modular, highly resilient, high performance, commercially available LEO satellite. Geely intends to offer the first combined real-time kinematics (PPP-RTK) precision positioning commercial services.

Tony Wang, CEO and Chief Scientist of Geespace, said: “Many favorable factors such as political support and market demand are accelerating the growth of the commercial aerospace sector.

By creating the Geely Future Mobility Constellation, Geespace is building tools to meet future user needs for high-precision positioning, space communications and remote sensing services”.

The Chinese government opened part of the space sector to private capital in late 2014, seeking to stimulate commercial space ecosystems outside of the CASC-dominated public sector through incentives, political support, and a national military-civilian fusion technology transfer strategy.

The move is seen as a response to an earlier rise in commercial space activity in the US through SpaceX and other companies.

This includes support for new infrastructures such as “satellite internet” and efforts by local authorities to attract high-tech space companies, which have spawned hundreds of launch companies, leading to the formation of several space industry clusters and experimental zones in China.

GeeSat-5 satellites are likely to have an onboard propulsion system. The “Notice to Promote the Orderly Development of Small Satellites” issued in May 2021 states that small satellites in orbits below 2,000 kilometers must be able to perform collision avoidance maneuvers as well as deorbit after missions are completed so that the satellites are deorbited. not later than 25 years after the end of operation.

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