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DFH#12: China's space-based solar station, space companies' response to floods and more

The Dongfang Hour
The Dongfang Hour
Your Weekly China Space Industry Summary, with a touch of eccentricity and some attempts at humor. By Blaine Curcio and Jean Deville, and with editing by Orbital Gateway Consulting Intern Aurélie Gillet

What's up in Chinese Space this Week?
In this week’s Newsletter Issue #12 covering 19 - 25 July 2021, we discuss the following:
  1. China’s first space-based solar station experimental base begins construction in Bishan District, Chongqing
  2. Chinese EO satellites to the rescue in the aftermath of Henan’s catastrophic floods
  3. A Long March-2C launches a handful of satellites
  4. Satcom companies contribution to Henan flood relief efforts
  5.  Galactic Energy Hints at 2nd and 3rd Launches at Company Event
  6. The secondary payload of the Kuanfu-01B satellite, a set of GNSS occultation instruments, has begun to collect sea surface wind data
  7. The National Youth Mars Homeland Challenge (未来火星之家) was kicked off in Shanghai
  8. The Shanghai Astronomy Museum will have a large section dedicated to space exploration
  9. Haige Communications announces the investment of 1.3 billion RMB into new R&D facilities
  10. Beihang Establishes an Institute of Future Space Technology
  11. Yantai City’s High Tech Zone unveils several “Policies on Accelerating the Development of Satellite and Application Industries”
1) China’s first space-based solar station experimental base begins construction in Bishan District, Chongqing
Space-Based Solar Power (credits: SPS-ALPHA Project, NASA)
Space-Based Solar Power (credits: SPS-ALPHA Project, NASA)
China kicked off the construction of its first space-based solar station experimental industry base in Bishan District of Chongqing. According to a report by Chongqing Daily, 2.6 billion RMB (roughly 400 million USD) should be invested into this base, which will cover 200 acres/0.8 km2. This experimental base will aim at demonstrating the feasibility of space-based solar harvesting, and notably technologies such as the space-to-ground transmission of energy through microwaves.
China plans to send a MW-level experimental space-based solar station in 2030, and according to a researcher from CAST in 2020, a MW-level solar station would weigh 200 tons. That is unimaginably heavy, and inaccessible for currently operational launch vehicles - although the LM-9 and LM-5DY rockets may partially help solve the issue.
Taking a bit of a step back, the impressive space industry cluster that has developed in Chongqing over the past couple of years is noteworthy. In addition to the space-based solar power station project, Chongqing is also a major hub for CASC’s LEO broadband constellation efforts, including its subsidiary China MacroNet (东方红卫星移动通信有限公司), which announced an expansion of its efforts in Chongqing at the end of last year.
总投资约26亿元,杨士中院士负责的全国首个“太空发电站”实验基地正式开工建设 - 产业 - 泰伯网 | 科技赋能新经济
2) Chinese EO satellites to the rescue in the aftermath of Henan’s catastrophic floods
Over the last week, China’s central province of Henan encountered record-breaking amounts of rain starting on July 17th, considered to be once in 1,000 year-level of rain and triggering devastating floods. In response to that, Chinese Earth Observation companies have put their resources and efforts into providing remote sensing data on Henan and turning it into intelligible analytics for the local government, insurance companies, and rescue teams.
One example is Jiahe Info’s use of SAR data. The company, specialised in remote sensing data analytics and based in the neighboring province of Hubei, in Wuhan, used Gaofen-3 SAR data to detect the amount of flooding and the areas that are most affected. Radar signals are reflected differently depending on the wetness of the soil; SAR data can thereby help determine which farmlands have been soaked to an extent where the crops are no longer able to survive, enabling farmers to quantify the damage and claim compensation (to learn how to interpret SAR images, see this article).
Interestingly, Jiahe Info has decided to provide this service for free for all disaster-stricken areas of Henan, something that will definitely be appreciated by the local farmers. It will be interesting to see whether the events of this week’s flooding in Henan lead to even more emphasis on emergency response by China’s satcom industry, or potentially the government itself.
珈和遥感定损服务免费 快速应对河南特大暴雨灾情
3) A Long March-2C Launches a handful of satellites
On 19 July, a Long March-2C rocket launched the latest trio of Yaogan SIGINT satellites, along with the Tianqi-15 satellite from Guodian Gaoke – with TT&C services provided by Satellite Herd. This is but the latest Yaogan launch of 2021, with China having sent a whopping 19x Yaogan satellites into orbit this year (7 launches, of which 6 were triplets and 1 was a single Yaogan satellite).
While the Tianqi-15 nanosatellite was only the secondary payload here, it’s worth highlighting that this marks the completion of the first stage of the Tianqi Constellation. Tianqi is a 38-nanosatellite IoT constellation project of Chinese commercial company Guodian Gaoke. The constellation plans to serve verticals such as smart agriculture, environment conservation, power grids, coal mining, container transportation and other such industries that need to deploy a plethora of sensors to monitor the state of various parameters. The completion of the “first phase” of the constellation deployment enables the commercialization of the Tianqi satellite services.
It is important news to see China’s first commercial constellations actually take shape and begin to commercialize. There have been many constellation projects in China – at least 20 of them since 2014. Quite a few haven’t been able to materialize for funding reasons, others for regulatory reasons, and some were simply just PPT/slideware constellations. Yet there are some solid projects out there, and Guodian Gaoke’s Tianqi constellation definitely seems to be one of them.
全胜!长二丙今晨成功发射遥感三十号10组卫星
4) Satcom companies contribution to Henan flood relief efforts
Separate from EO satellites discussed above, multiple satellite operators or service providers published articles this week showing their involvement in relief efforts for the devastating floods in Henan. China Satcom subsidiary SinoSat worked to help connect emergency crews using ChinaSat capacity, while APT Satellite’s Apstar-5C provided connectivity to UAVs being used to surveil the area, among other things. China’s emergency response satcom services have seen significant development in recent years, both on the ground equipment side and the satellite network side, and this week they played a critical role in assisting with the Henan flooding. 
5)  Galactic Energy Hints at 2nd and 3rd Launches at Company Event
Galactic Energy organized an internal “mobilization” event for the company’s Ceres-1 team, while also providing hints about 2nd and 3rd launches of the Ceres-1 rocket, both of which are still planned for H2 2021. The article highlights the successful first launch of the Ceres-1 rocket last year, an impressive feat given that Galactic Energy was only founded in 2018. Moving forward, if Galactic Energy nails the 2nd and 3rd launches of Ceres-1 before the end of 2021, the company will clearly secure a place among the first tier of Chinese commercial launch companies. In the less immediate term, be on the lookout for the first launch of the company’s larger Pallas-1 liquid methalox rocket, expected for 2022.
蓄势待发 |“谷神星一号(遥二、遥三)”发射任务动员会圆满召开
6) The secondary payload of the Kuanfu-01B satellite, a set of GNSS occultation instruments, has begun to collect sea surface wind data
The Kuanfu-01B Earth observation satellite of the Jilin-1 constellation was launched on July 3. On this satellite was also present a secondary GNSS occultation payload of the Chinese company Yunyao Yuhang (云遥宇航), which uses measures GNSS signals directly received from the satnav satellite as well as reflections from the ocean surface. The data is then downloaded to the ground and used to deduce sea surface wind speeds.
Yunyao Yuhang plans to deploy a constellation of GNSS occultation payloads. The payload of the Kuanfu-01B represents the second such deployment of the company, the first one being on the Zhong’an Guotong-1 satellite launched on April 27 2021 on-board a Long March 6.
国内首颗商业星载GNSS-R海洋反射探测载荷成功下传DDM数据!
7) The National Youth Mars Homeland Challenge (未来火星之家) was kicked off in Shanghai
The National Youth Mars Homeland Challenge (未来火星之家), organized by CNSA, various institutes of the CAS, and the Ministry of Education, was kicked off in Shanghai on July 17. This space exploration and education event, which targets elementary school, junior high school, and high school students across China, aims not only to foster interest in STEAM disciplines and in space among the youth, but also to encourage creative thinking. Activities will consist in designing Mars exploration robots, habitation capsules, and migration programs.
Judged by aerospace experts on the basis of creativity, feasibility, as well as on their popularity and aesthetic value, the best projects will enable winners to earn a model of the Zhurong Mars rover as well as the opportunity to observe a space launch in person.
全国青少年“未来火星之家” 星际挑战活动正式启动
8) The Shanghai Astronomy Museum will have a large section dedicated to space exploration
The newly-opened Shanghai Astronomy Museum will have a large section dedicated to space exploration, including exhibits featuring Zhurong on Mars and Chang’e missions on the Moon. There is a clear emphasis on education and outreach from the museum, with specific curriculum and experiences planned to get young people interested in the space sector
上海航天助力上海天文馆建设
9) Guangzhou-based Beidou satnav systems manufacturer Haige Communications announces the investment of 1.3 billion RMB into new R&D facilities
Maritime communications equipment manufacturer Haige Communications announced plans for an investment of RMB 1.3B into a new R&D center in Guangzhou. The publicly-traded communications company has a large business outfitting government and military vessels with BeiDou systems and related communications equipment, as well as interest in the commercial maritime sector. The company reported revenues of RMB 5.1B in 2020, an increase of >10% compared to 2019 despite Covid-19. Moving forward, we may see Haige play a more active role in maritime satcom given the major changes occurring in this space in China.
海格通信:拟投资约13亿元建设海格天枢研发中心大楼_资讯_资本邦
10) Beihang Establishes an Institute of Future Space Technology
Beihang University, China’s leading aerospace university, officially established the Institute of Future Space Technology (北航未来空天技术学院) on July 13th. The Institute will begin enrollment in 2021 and will offer programs from bachelor to doctoral degrees. WU Weiren, Chief Designer of China’s Lunar Exploration Program, and Academician at the CAS, will be the institute’s first dean. Beihang is also noteworthy for its international collaboration and international student body (with one of the DFHour co-hosts having spent some time as a student there!).
北航未来空天技术学院正式成立 实行八年制本博贯通培养_创新型
11) Yantai City’s High Tech Zone unveils several “Policies on Accelerating the Development of Satellite and Application Industries”
Yantai City in Shandong Province unveiled policies to accelerate the development of satellite (manufacturing, possibly) and satellite application industries in the city. Similar to recent initiatives unveiled by Shenzhen City, Yantai seems to have designated different levels of subsidy for “major investment projects” (重点投资项目) and all other projects. Interestingly, Yantai has also seen the development of a launch company cluster, with the recently-founded oSpace being HQed there, and with a commercial launch site being discussed. Yantai’s coastal location could provide an advantage in this regard. 
顶格支持,最高补助1亿元!烟台高新区发布卫星及应用产业新政_服务
This has been another episode of the Dongfang Hour China Aero/Space News Roundup. If you’ve made it this far, we thank you for your kind attention, and look forward to seeing you next time! Until then, don’t forget to follow us on YouTube, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or your local podcast source. 
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