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China Launches Its First Medium Earth Orbit Broadband Communication Satellites Smart SkyNet-1 01

Release time:
2024/05/20 15:09

On May 9, 2024, at 09:43 (0143 GMT), the Long March 3B carrier rocket successfully launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, carrying Smart SkyNet-1 01 satellites A and B into their destination orbit.



Smart SkyNet is an innovative medium Earth orbit (MEO) synchronous orbital space-based network solution originally proposed by Tsinghua University. It comprises eight MEO broadband communication network satellites deployed at an altitude of 20,000 kilometers to form a global communication constellation. This network can be expanded to 16 satellites (two groups), 32 satellites (four groups), and various other coverage network configurations as needed, providing customizable broadband network services with complete global coverage once operational. The network will also integrate with both high and low Earth orbit satellite network systems to form a unified ground and space 6G network, accessible for all types of users for any application from any location.


The Smart SkyNet-1 01 satellites, as China's first MEO broadband communication satellites, include a technology verification satellite A and a test satellite B. Satellite A is equipped with multi-beam high-speed microwave links, bi-directional inter-satellite laser links, and an onboard digital processing and forwarding platform. Satellite B is equipped with inter-satellite laser link test payloads. The on-orbit mission primarily focuses on core technology verification of flexible intersatellite and satellite-to-ground communication, as well as key satellite platform technology verifications of normal high heat flux density cooling, highly stable continuous yaw maneuvering attitude control, and low-fuel orbital maintenance, serving as initial groundwork for the network integration engineering.

Following the launch of the Smart SkyNet-1 01 satellites, innovative technologies such as flexible agile beam from satellite to ground, high-speed inter-satellite laser links, and secure network protocols will be employed. These will facilitate dynamic beam hopping on-demand services and high-capacity on-board processing and switching technology trials, ensuring that users can access services as needed, and enabling seamless interconnectivity with Internet services and ground cellular networks. Once operational in orbit, the satellites will also demonstrate key applications such as direct data links between China and its Antarctic research station, and real-time data retransmission from low earth orbit satellites. These demonstrations will lay a solid foundation for the construction of an innovative space network experimental platform and explore industrial application models for the Smart SkyNet.

The Smart SkyNet Innovation Project is a Science and Technology Major Project established by the city of Shanghai and is being led by Shanghai Tsingshen Science and Technology Development (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. The successful launch of Smart SkyNet-1 01 satellites signifies a critical first step towards the full implementation of the Smart SkyNet Innovation Project. Upon completion, Smart SkyNet will feature high-efficiency broadband coverage and both inter-satellite and satellite-to-ground communication capabilities, providing customizable broadband network services with complete global coverage, enabling innovative applications such as satellite Internet and dedicated space backbone networks, and supporting the infrastructure development of space networks.

The launch vehicle and satellites for this mission were developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), respectively. This launch marks the 521st mission of the Long March rocket series.