China’s GalaxySpace Debuts Revolutionary Flexible Solar Wing Satellite
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jul 26, 2023
China’s commercial space company, GalaxySpace, has successfully embarked on a new chapter in the nation’s space endeavours, launching the Lingxi-03 satellite from a Long March-2D rocket this past Sunday.
In a noteworthy first, the Lingxi-03 satellite is furnished with a flexible solar wing, a unique design for the nation. The solar panel, a single-layered structure, is impressively thin at approximately 1 millimeter. The wing, while compact at under 5 centimeters thick when packed in the rocket, expands to around 9 meters in length and over 2.5 meters in width once deployed in orbit.
This innovative flexible solar wing design brings several advantages to the table. Its lightweight and modularized build allow for it to absorb greater amounts of solar energy, making it ideal for large-scale, stackable satellite launches. It presents a significant advancement in accelerating the build-up of satellite internet constellations.
The Lingxi-03 satellite is also fitted with a millimeter-wave multi-beam digital payload with a capacity that measures in the tens of gigabits per second. This technology is pivotal in validating next-generation low-orbit broadband satellite communications, substantial energy systems, active thermal control, integrated die-casting structures, and stackable multi-satellite releases.
This launch marks China’s first in-orbit verification of stackable multi-satellite technology. It will serve as a backbone for the swift deployment of the nation’s large-scale low-orbit communication satellite constellation.
The satellite’s primary purpose is to enhance low-orbit broadband communications. Its digital payload acts as the satellite’s ‘brain’, intelligently allocating communication resources and automatically managing operations and beam distribution based on specific operational needs.
The Lingxi-03 also represents another first for China – the first satellite with an integrated main body structure. This design, realized through the use of integrated die-casting technology, enhances suitability for mass production.
Unique to this satellite is an open-frame design. This means that the subsystem equipment directly faces the harsh space environment, sans protective coverings. This necessitates superior performance from satellite electronics and temperature control systems, which must withstand direct exposure to extreme space conditions. To combat this, the Lingxi-03 is outfitted with an active thermal control fluid circuit, effectively acting as an ‘air conditioner’, ensuring optimal operational temperature.
This satellite has also seen the involvement of several new suppliers, previously inexperienced in the aerospace industry. Through cooperation and joint development, GalaxySpace has maximized the potential of the country’s established industrial system.
GalaxySpace is setting a brisk pace in the development of flat-panel stackable satellites, striving to address core technologies such as phased array antennas for direct satellite-to-device communications and digital processing payloads, shared Zhu Zhengxian, the company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
The CTO highlighted the company’s anticipation to collaborate with industry partners in the rapid construction of a satellite internet constellation, reasserting GalaxySpace’s commitment to lead the frontier in space innovation.