Among the nine satellites lifted by the Long March 11 carrier rocket’s sea-based mission on Tuesday, one has drawn more attention than others as it will strive to entertain users of one of the most popular Chinese websites.
The 42-kilogram Bilibili Video Satellite is tasked with observing Earth and other celestial bodies as well as taking videos and pictures at an altitude of 535 kilometers. The results will be transmitted to Bilibili, a Shanghai-based video-sharing website that boasts 172 million active users in China, and will then be used to create educational programs about science, technology, nature and history, according to a statement from the privately owned company.
The satellite is the first video-taking spacecraft to be operated by a Chinese internet enterprise for educational purposes, said Li Ni, the company’s chief operating officer. In the near future, Bilibili users, most of whom are Chinese people aged 18 to 35, will be allowed to use the satellite to take videos or pictures of places designated by them, she said.
Designed and built by Chang Guang Satellite Technology, a leading maker of Earth-observation satellites in China, the satellite features low operational cost and fuel consumption and is capable of taking color videos with a 1.2-meter resolution.
In addition to the educational functions, it will also work with its predecessors in the Jilin 1 network to generate remote-sensing products for government and industry users, Li said.
Tuesday’s launch was the company’s second attempt to deploy its first spacecraft. In July, it lost a satellite during the failed debut flight of the Kuaizhou 11 solid-propellant rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
Over the past several years, small satellites, especially those weighing less than 100 kilograms, have become increasingly popular among Chinese internet companies interested in satellite-enabled capabilities.
Alibaba Group, the largest e-commerce service provider in the nation, has bought and launched a communication satellite to boost its public relations and entertain users.
Robin Li, chairman and CEO of search engine giant Baidu, has also urged the government to help private businesses enter the rocket and satellite sectors.