China's first software-defined satellite completes in-orbit experiments
Tianzhi-1, China's first software-defined satellite, has completed more than 10 experiments in orbit, verifying key technologies for a new generation of satellites.
Zhao Junsuo, the chief designer of the satellite, announced the results of the experiments on Friday at 2019 Software-defined Satellite Forum in Rizhao, Shandong Province.
The Tianzhi-1 software-defined satellite. [Photo: Chinese Academy of Sciences]
The satellite is capable of processing data in orbit before sending it back to the earth, cutting the amount of time that ground stations need to spend collecting data from a satellite in order to levy useful results from its observations.
Unlike conventional single-purpose satellites, Tianzhi-1 can be used to carry out a variety of tasks through updates to its software, Zhang Baoxin, an expert at China Aviation News told the Global Times.
The satellite is designed to set its own orbit using data from the global navigation satellite system, which it did on March 17, 2019. By contrast, conventional satellites can only maneuver with assistance from control centers on earth, according to the Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which is leading the Tianzhi-1 project.
The Long March-2D carrier rocket with the Tianzhi-1 software-defined satellite on board before it was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on November 20, 2018. [Photo: Bureau of Major R&D Programs, Chinese Academy of Sciences]
Members of the public can interact with Tianzhi-1 via a mobile phone app and give it a new mission when it is otherwise idle.
Tianzhi-1 was launched into space on a Long March-2D carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on November 20 last year. A follow-up mission, Tianzhi-2, project is already underway and the Tianzhi-3 mission will kick off soon.