In a recent report by Indian media outlet “Eurasian Times,” it was unveiled that China, after the introduction of Huawei’s satellite phones, announced the construction of its own version of a satellite constellation. This ambitious project will feature a staggering 13,000 satellites, rivaling all other near-Earth satellite internet constellations globally and only being second to SpaceX’s Starlink, which boasts a planned 42,000 satellites.
China’s Move After Huawei’s Satellite Phone
According to the Eurasian Times, after Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro showcased live satellite phone capabilities, China took another bold step. The new Chinese satellite constellation, named G60, intends to compete with the largest satellite constellation globally, SpaceX’s Starlink.
Supported by Shanghai City: Accelerating the “Turtle Version Starlink” Construction Information sourced from the South China Morning Post claims that in September, officials from Shanghai’s Songjiang District visited a satellite manufacturing center in western Shanghai. This center is geared up for large-scale production of G60 satellites. Furthermore, the delegates met with project partners Shanghai Joint Investment and Shanghai Aerospace Satellite Technology Co. to keep track of the project’s progression.
Already in July, tests for the satellite were successfully conducted, with plans to deploy nearly 1,300 satellites in the project’s early stages. This venture is part of the G60 Science and Technology Innovation Corridor proposed by Shanghai’s Songjiang District in 2016. This innovation corridor, alongside the G60 highway that stretches over 2,360 km from Shanghai to the southwestern city of Kunming, signifies China’s aim to establish a high-tech economic belt, aiding in its goal to overtake America’s high-tech barriers.
Possible Bottlenecks: Launch Capabilities
While China possesses the ambition and advanced satellite technology, the nation currently lacks the capabilities for large-scale satellite deployments, especially since it hasn’t yet mastered rocket recovery technology. Consequently, launching costs could skyrocket.
Comparing to SpaceX’s Starlink
Since 2018, SpaceX has undertaken 109 launch missions, placing over 4,800 Starlink satellites into orbit. By the end of September, the company revealed that its internet broadband service via these satellites now serves over 2 million active customers from more than 60 countries.
Understanding the “Turtle Version Starlink”
The GW60 constellation is not China’s most recent satellite internet project. It can be traced back to the “Hongyan Project” disclosed in 2016. By November 2, 2016, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation stated plans for a “Hongyan Satellite Constellation Communication System.”
Comparing GW Constellation and SpaceX’s Starlink reveals significant technical differences. Notably, the satellite count and orbit altitudes vary between the two. According to documents submitted to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in September 2020, China has plans to deploy 12,992 satellites within orbits ranging from 500 km to 1,145 km.
Huawei’s MATE 60 PRO Satellite Phone: Is it Related to “Turtle Starlink”?
There’s no direct connection between Huawei’s MATE 60 PRO and the “Turtle Starlink”. The MATE 60 PRO utilizes communication with the TianTong 1-03 satellite, which operates in a geostationary orbit. However, the MATE 60 PRO’s ability to directly connect to a satellite is ground-breaking, and as GW Constellation and similar projects advance, we can expect more satellite-ready phones in the market.