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China Gets on the Bandwagon To Provide Global Satellite Internet

Over the weekend, China launched a satellite into low-earth orbit, the first step of a plan to provide global satellite internet to people who still don’t have reliable access. From a report: Nearly 3.8 billion people are unconnected to the internet, and women and rural poor are particularly affected. The satellite, called Hongyun-1, took off at China’s national launching site Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Saturday (Dec. 22). Hongyun-1, or “rainbow cloud,” is the first of 156 satellites of the same name developed by state-owned spacecraft maker China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC). CASIC intends to launch all the Hongyun satellites by around 2022 to form a constellation that will improve internet access in remote parts of China, and eventually in developing countries, a plan first announced in 2016. Most of the satellites will operate 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) above the earth, far lower than satellites are typically placed. The project is “moving the internet currently on the ground into the sky,” said Hou Xiufeng, a spokesperson for CASIC, “It’s China’s first true low-orbit communication satellite… The launch will greatly boost commercial space.”

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