A Shenzhen-made satellite will be launched into space in the second half of this year as the first test satellite for Project Hongyan, a 300-satellite communications mega-constellation built by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported on Wednesday.

The constellation is a mobile telephone communications network providing coverage for Chinese mobile telephone users. The whole constellation is expected to be completed in 2023 and have broad commercial applications, including providing Internet services, enhancing navigation systems and supporting aerial and maritime monitoring.

The test satellite to be launched this year will run along the Earth’s orbit 1,100 kilometers away from Earth, and it will be responsible for testing the usability of low-orbit resources and the capacity of data-forwarding services.

The satellite was developed by the Shenzhen Aerospace Dongfanghong Development Co. Ltd., a company specializing in research and development of micro satellites.

The company was founded in 2008 following an agreement signed by CASC and the Shenzhen Municipal Government. It has developed and launched five micro satellites over the past few years and set up a cost-effective pattern with a short R&D cycle for satellite production.

Xue Lijun, the company’s deputy general manager, said the company took root in Shenzhen because the city’s manufacturing industry and industrial chain were fully fledged. He said the company has worked closely with local manufacturers and universities in Hong Kong and Macao to produce satellites in Shenzhen.

According to Xue, the test satellite is also the company’s first commercial satellite. He said the company is planning to push forward the mass production of micro satellites and explore a business model for commercial satellites.

Shenzhen has developed into a research, development and manufacturing base for micro satellites and components of satellite navigation devices.

According to the report, the output value of the aerospace industry in Shenzhen exceeded 80 billion yuan (US$12.62 billion) in 2016, up by 17 percent compared with the previous year. The added value of the city’s aerospace industry was 14.6 billion yuan last year, with a year-on-year growth of 30.5 percent.

(Source: Shenzhen Daily)