As the race for mobility solutions heats-up on the earth, Geely looks up and towards the future.
The Space Race has been a 70-year- long marathon, first by the superpowers of the time – the USA and the Soviet Union – in their ‘Space Race’, followed closely by smaller nations such as the UK or trade blocks like the EU.
China began its space program in the 1950s, at the same time as the USA and Soviet Russia, and showed strong potential with the first Chinese satellite launching in 1970 after two decades of success in rocket development. Later, China’s own space programs would go into hyperdrive with the launch of the Shen Zhou rockets, rockets that would take the first Chinese astronauts into space in 2003, thereby making China the third nation in history to put humans into space.
China’s aspirations haven’t slowed down over the past two decades. Lunar explorers have been launched to the moon’s surface and plans are afoot for a Mars lander and deep space exploration in the coming years, along with China’s own space station in the more distant future.
China’s national space programs are not the only players in town, with the private sector catching up to national aspirations with rapid pace. Geely Holding announced its own space program in early 2020 with the establishment of a satellite production centre in Taizhou, the aim of which is to produce over 500 low-orbit satellites per year.
Geely-invested subsidiary Geespace is taking the lead on Geely’s space programs, not only by creating the satellites but also by building the terrestrial base stations within China. The first four base stations will be based across the country: Korla in Xinjiang (North-West China), Hulunbuir in Inner Mongolia (North-East China), Taizhou (East China) and Shenzhen (South China).
The satellites created by Geespace will be moving through low orbit at speeds of up to 7 kilometres per second in an oval shape that includes China’s territory, providing the eyes and ears to autonomous vehicles of the future, helping them to process millions of queries per second and guiding them on their journeys. Geely believes that by creating a system with interconnected vehicles and infrastructure it can have safe autonomous driving – relying on cameras and sensors alone is simply not enough. In the words of Geely Holding Group Chairman Mr. Li Shufu, “This series of technological advancements will make future travel safer, more environmentally friendly and far smarter.”
The first base station in Korla, Xinjiang will have a 7.3-metre-wide satellite on its roof and will be able to rotate during working operations, allowing it to transmit into the world above as well as to vehicles across China using 5G technology. These base stations are designed to be unmanned and remotely operated, although Geespace maintenance teams will be on standby 24/7 to maintain operations and guarantee safety.
Geely’s first satellites will undergo extensive testing before being launched into low orbit later this year, with the completion of the remaining ‘earth bases’ to follow. For the new era of Geely’s operations, it is looking up and into the great beyond…