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China launches first SkyNet satellite to compete with Elon Musk’s Starlink network

Internet from space for everyone
  • China just launched its first SkyNet satellite
  • It will compete with Starlink for satellite-based internet services
  • If all goes according to plan, seven more of these satellites will go into space

Published on May 13, 2024 at 3:35PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on May 14, 2024 at 5:46PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Tom Wood

China launched the first of its many SkyNet satellites into space which would directly compete with Starlink.

The satellite, dubbed Zhihui Tianwang-1 01 or Smart SkyNet-1 01, will offer satellite-based internet services worldwide.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) launched the first SkyNet satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China.

READ MORE: Elon Musk reveals next-gen Starship to reach heights greater than Great Pyramids

Since it’s only the first one, it will test high-speed, user-friendly communications from 12,400 miles above Earth.

Moreover, CASC launched the payload into medium Earth orbit, making it farther away from most Starlink satellites.

To put that into perspective, most Starlink satellites sit in low Earth orbit.

Most satellites in medium Earth orbit only perform specific tasks like global positioning systems (GPS).

So far, Elon Musk’s Starlink has been quite successful, mostly because nobody else has been commercially putting internet satellites in space.

Others have taken initial steps, like Amazon-backed Kulper and OneWeb.

However, both of them are still in their relatively early stages.

CASC might be late to the party, but the agency plans to fast-track the launches.

That means it wants to achieve super fast internet speeds reaching 500 Gbps by 2025.

The SkyNet satellites feature a high-speed microwave link, among other technologies, which would help make a smooth connection.

Since Musk has a head start, Starlink currently has over 6,000 satellites in space to deliver broadband services globally.

If it continues at this pace, the company says the number could reach up to 42,000 in the near future.

CASC mentions that if the initial satellite performs well, it will launch seven more of the SkyNet internet satellites as part of its expansion plan.

In the future, they might also join China’s GuoWang and G60 Starlink satellite constellation, as per SCMP.

These operate in low Earth orbit as well as higher geostationary orbit.

The internet, directly from space, has a nice ring to it, and the technology will only get better from here.

Some images used in this story were generated using AI.

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