Tendered by the RT news site, China has launched a communications satellite which will reportedly provide better Internet access on planes and in less-developed regions, according to the Chinese Xinhua. news agency, which also said the satellite is designed to assist when natural disasters occur.
Named Shijian-13, China's first HTS, was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province on Wednesday and was sent into orbit on a Long March-3B carrier rocket. The benefits of the satellite — which has a transfer capacity of 20 Gbps and a designed orbital life of 15 years — will reportedly extend to aircraft, allowing for better Internet service on planes. Xinhua also stated that the satellite will also allow passengers of high-speed trains to watch HD videos, as well.
"The launch is a milestone for China's communications satellite technology," Tian Yulong, chief engineer of China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, said.
Shijian-13 is the first Chinese satellite to be electrically powered by electricity and reportedly has the potential to improve efficiency by as much as 10 times compared to satellites that use chemical propellants. Such improved efficiency, if achieved, would extend the satellite's life and reduce launch weight, according to Zhou Zhicheng, Shijian-13's commander-in-chief.
The launch of the satellite — which also has the first laser communications system installed on a Chinese high orbit satellite with a long lifespan — comes as Beijing plans to launch five other communications satellites this year. China is aiming to have 22 communications satellites on orbit by 2025, with five built on new designs, according to a development plan for civilian space infrastructure released in 2015. Shijian-18 is scheduled to be on orbit and in June.