Geespace has started building a near-earth satellite network that will enable autonomous driving. On Thursday, a Long March 2C rocket launched the first nine test satellites from the Xichang Cosmodrome. A constellation of 72 satellites is to be created by 2025, and 240 are planned for the final expansion.
Founded in 2018, Geespace is a subsidiary of the Chinese group Zhejiang Geely, which owns the car brands Smart, Geely, Volvo and Lotus. Geespace builds the modular satellites for low earth orbits (LEO) itself. On the one hand, they are intended to enable positioning with centimeter accuracy and, on the other hand, to provide connections between vehicles (vehicle to vehicle, V2V) and between infrastructure and vehicles (vehicle to infrastructure, V2I). This means that the group’s vehicles could one day “drive really safely autonomously,” says the Chinese group.
At the beginning support for logistics
Initially, Geespace wants to monetize less futuristic services, namely remote monitoring of freight shipments. In addition, the company would like to manufacture satellites for third parties and provide services for satellite operators. The factory is said to be able to produce 500 modular satellites annually. In terms of corporate social responsibility, the group also promises to measure the quality of seawater from space and to locate accumulations of waste.
Actually, two test satellites should have been launched in 2020. In December 2021 the time had actually come, but GeeSAT 1A and 1B did not reach orbit at that time. Now it should really start. The current satellites have fuel for five years, after which they will burn up in the earth’s atmosphere.
Geely is the largest private car manufacturer in the People’s Republic of China. The owner is the billionaire Shufu Li, who is also the second-largest single shareholder of the Mercedes-Benz group (formerly Daimler AG). The largest single shareholder there is the Chinese state car manufacturer BAIC (Beijing Automotive Group), in which the Swabian car group also has a stake.
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