China successfully sent 13 satellites into orbit from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China’s Shanxi Province on November 6, 2020 Friday, including the world’s first sixth-generation (6G) test communications test satellite. Friday’s launch was the 351st by the Long March rocket series.
The satellites blasted off atop a Long March-6 carrier rocket at 11:19 a.m. (Beijing Time). They include 10 commercial remote sensing satellites developed by Argentine company Satellogic, which marks the first time that China’s new-generation of carrier rocket has taken foreign satellites into space.
Each weighing about 41 kg and with a design life of three years, the 10 satellites will be used to provide commercial remote sensing services with their multispectral and hyperspectral loads.
Also on board the rocket were three satellites developed by Chinese high-tech companies and research institutes for remote-sensing observation, science experiments, and science popularization.
One of the three is a 6G test satellite. It weighs 70 kg and is named after one its developers, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China.
It will be used to verify the performance of 6G technology in space, and the frequency band will expand from the 5G millimetre wave frequency to the terahertz frequency.
Terahertz is a kind of electromagnetic wave with a frequency range between microwave and infrared.
The technology is expected to be over 100 times faster than 5G, enabling lossless transmission in space to achieve long-distance communications.
The launch of the 6G test satellite marks a breakthrough in the exploration of terahertz space communication technologies in China’s space field, said XuYangsheng, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
The satellite will be used in smart city construction, disaster prevention and mitigation, land planning, environmental protection, and the monitoring of major infrastructure construction.
China launches research and development of 6G technology
China has set up a national 6G research and development working group and a general expert group to promote development of technology, the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) announced in November 2019.
The meeting, joined by organizations including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Chinese Academy of Sciences, marked the official launch of China’s 6G technology research and development, according to MOST.
Wang Xi, Vice Minister of Science and Technology, said that global 6G technology research is still in the initial stage of exploration, key indicators and application scenarios have not been uniformly defined.
He added that China highly values 6G technology and will promote the development of 6G with efficiency and openness.
The ministry will work with the general expert group and relative organizations to develop the research and development plan and explore possible technical directions of 6G technology.
Chinese experts set foot in 6G research
Southeast University in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province said in January 2019 that a team has begun to research 6G mobile networks.
You Xiaohu, a professor with the university and the team leader, said that compared with 5G technologies, 6G will cover a wider range of fields with higher speed and greater security.
The early research and development will mainly focus on intelligent mobile communications, massive wireless communications, millimeter wave/submillimeter wave wireless communications, optical wireless communications and broadband satellite mobile communications.
“There’s still a long way to go in applying 6G technologies into our daily life. Experts predict that 6G technologies will go into commercial operation by 2030. However, the competition has already begun among many enterprises,” You said.