China prepares first launch of Starlink Competitor

China is preparing to launch one of its first satellites for its mega constellation later this year. This mega constellation is to be a competitor for Space X’s Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper.

This is being readied for launch by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CSAC) in one of its Long March 5B rocket at Wenchang Spaceport.

This constellation is going to be a 13,000 satellite LEO based broadband internet link project known as “Guowang”. This project includes a multitude of different groups that will assist in construction of these small sats. The China Academy of Space Technology and the Innovation Academy for Microsatellites (IAMCAS) are two of these, with the IAMCAS slated to manufacture the first 30 satellites by the end of 2023.

This is following a trend of Chinese companies preparing for small satellites construction and design. Since 2014 a number of commercial Chinese companies have entered the market after a government policy push to develop launchers capable of lifting “light” vehicles to space in order to secure contracts from private and commercial companies attempting to reach space.

U.S. companies have concerns over these competitors from China, citing issues with the competitive edge the Chinese government is giving these companies. This obviously has the effect of giving extra choices to international users to choose Chinese companies over American. Not to mention the issue with these companies having strong links to the Chinese government. Though Chinese actors are pointing fingers as well, citing Starlink’s potential military use in a conflict after seeing its use in the current ongoing Ukrainian war.