6G Experimental Satellite on the Horizon

By Ron Calhoun

It’s not fiber! But…..

China has leap-frogged the world in satellite communication.

China sent 13 satellites into orbit on Nov 7, 2020, it also completed a world’s first, sending up a sixth-generation communications test satellite, Yicai Global reported.

According to media reports, the 6G satellite was among three Chinese satellites successfully launched into orbit, along with 10 commercial remote sensing satellites developed by Argentinian company Satellogic.

The Commercial remote sensing satellites will be used to verify the performance of 6G technology in space, as well as expand the 5G millimeter-wave frequency to the terahertz frequency.

The satellite is the first technical test of terahertz communication’s application in space, said Xu Yangsheng, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Although it is not fiber the technology is expected to be over 100 times faster than 5G, enabling lossless transmission in space to achieve long-distance communications with smaller power output.

The technology allows terahertz to be widely used in satellite internet, said Lu Chuan, head of the UESTC’s Institute of Satellite Industry Technology.

The satellite carries an optical remote sensing load system to monitor crop disasters, prevent forest fires, check forestry resources, and monitor water conservancy and mountain floods as well as provide abundant satellite images and data, noted Lu.

According to China Daily, 6G technology is still in its infancy and must overcome several technical hurdles in basic research, hardware design, and its environmental impact before the technology becomes commercially available, according to a white paper published by the Finland’s University of Oulu.

Moreover, some scientists worry that 6G’s new infrastructure, the increased integration of space-air-ground-sea communication technologies, and the use of a new frequency range to transmit data might affect astronomical instruments, public health, or be too expensive or insecure for researchers to use.

“The sharing, analysis, and management of research data are crucial for scientific and technological innovation in today’s big data era,” Wang Ruidan, Deputy Director of the National Science and Technology Infrastructure Center, said during a Beijing forum on digitized scientific research.

Meanwhile, China’s National Astronomical Observatory said that it will open its 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope, the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope, to global scientists next year for research work.

The observatory will begin full operation in January 2021 after passing a “series of technical and performance assessments.”

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