China To Create Starlink Internet Competitor

Dylan Turck
China is planning to launch a constellation of almost 13 000 satellites into low earth orbit to compete with SpaceX’s Starlink program and numerous other western space agencies in a race to become the largest internet provider in the world.
A satellite in low Earth orbit. Photo: Pixabay | Pexels
A satellite in low Earth orbit. Photo: Pixabay | Pexels

The mega constellation, Guowang, will use a March 5b rocket and be accompanied by a Yuanzheng-2 second-stage booster to propel the satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO). The goal of the constellation is to create a nationally owned broadband network that’s not tied to other countries.

Space news reported that the two organizations responsible for producing satellites for the constellation are the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and the Innovation Acadamy for Microsatellites (IAMCAS), with several non-state-owned commercial space launch companies flocking to apply for contracts to be able to work on the project.

In 2022, China unveiled two new factories which aim to develop and build hundreds of small satellites to help the country achieve its goals in the space industry. Each factory can produce an average of 100 satellites a year in addition to the 240 satellites built yearly in China’s largest factory in Wuhan.

SpaceX’s Starlink program has gained massive popularity for its innovative design and cost-effectiveness. Usually, if a country needs a local broadband network, it has to build thousands of cell towers around the country to supply its users with the adequate network coverage.

A SpaceX dragon capsule in orbit. Photo: SpaceX | Pexels

Starlink circumvents this need by beaming a signal directly down to the Earth from satellites, connecting citizens with service without needing a cell tower nearby. Removing the requirement of building expensive infrastructure in developing countries and helping provide internet access to remote areas.

Most developed countries won’t need Starlink’s services. After all, they have been building and maintaining cell towers since their inception. However, for developing countries in Africa, Asia, and South America, this service could save struggling economies and allow them to allocate funds to different sectors of the economy.

Starlink has made an extremely lucrative market with which it has yet to find competition. The fact that satellites can be moved freely around the globe to wherever they are needed is another benefit of the system, allowing Starlink to provide internet access to countries that experience war or natural disasters as a form of humanitarian aid.

China has taken notice of Starlink’s possibilities and intends to profit from this new technology and improve its position on a global scale.

As lucrative as Starlink’s business model is, China’s motive for building its own LEO constellation is not only driven by economic reasons. The truth is that the ability of Starlink to move around the world unencumbered poses a massive security threat to China. 

A Starlink satellite passing over a country. Photo: SpaceX | Pexels

With the government being well-known for having an anti-western ideology, this technology allows “western powers” to spy on China, undermine its censorship laws, and compromise its military’s integrity.
For these reasons, China will not allow Starlink in its orbit and has even proposed plans to fire missiles at the constellation if it ever enters its territory.

China has some of the strictest censorship laws in the world and doesn’t allow any form of western media in its country. If Starlink had to give uncensored internet access to its citizens, it would undermine the government’s authority.

From a military point of view, Starlink also poses the threat of blocking its communications, identifying military bases and outposts, and calculating troop numbers while assessing its military capabilities.


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