Investigate things to know and explore the space. From the implementation of the first commercial satellite Telemetry, Tracking & Command (TT&C) mission in China, to the construction of the first domestic third-party commercial satellite TT&C station, to the first realization of the national coverage of the commercial satellite TT&C network, to the completion of the first-phase layout of the global ground station network, during this process, Emposat has been working continuously, leading the innovation and development of the commercial satellite TT&C industry, interpreting the original intention and determination to explore the vast space in its own way.
All the staff of Emposat have a common mission called "Enabling Satellites" and a common name called " Satellite Controllers (Yu Xing Ren)". On the occasion of China Aerospace Day on April 24th, Emposat launched a series of articles, from the words and stories of the founder to the R&D engineer, demonstrating the romantic feelings of the Emposat people exploring the space.
"The Escort" Escort Satellite Flying into Space
"Attention all posts, prepare for 2 hours, and start to enter the task state." At 16:50 on March 30, 2023, Liang Tao, the head of the System General Department of Emposat, began to issue instructions to each post. 2 hours of preparation, 1 hour of preparation, 30 minutes... As the satellite launch time approached, Liang Tao also began to tense up. This was the most nervous time in his career.
At 18:50, the Long March 2D carrier rocket successfully launched Hongtu-1 Group 01 satellites (including Zhongyuan-1, Hebi-1, Hebi-2 and Hebi-3) at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in the form of four satellites. After more than ten minutes of active flight, the satellite successfully entered the predetermined orbit, and the launch mission was a complete success. Emposat successfully completed the TT&C task of Hongtu-1 Group 01 satellite launch phase. When he heard the command "all the satellites are working normally", Liang Tao finally heaved a sigh of relief. The preparation and dedication of the past week were now "blossoming in full bloom".
01 Satellite Ground “Escort”
"This launch not only has a large number of satellites, but also has three centers including the forward mission organization command and control center, mission display and data receiving and processing center, and space-earth data interaction center. There has never been such a pressure on station network resources and coordination with multiple centers in parallel to carry out various satellite scheduled tasks,” Liang Tao said.
As early as one month before the launch of the satellite, Liang Tao led nearly 30 staff members from the System General Department of Emposat to prepare for the TT&C mission. In order to ensure the smooth progress of satellite launch TT&C tasks, a week before the satellite launch, a full-system, full-process, and full-element drill was conducted according to the real launch scenario, including pre-launch state drills, on-orbit drills, and emergency response drills to eliminate all potential problems and strengthen the system's ability to complete the task.
TT&C is a crucial link in the satellite industry chain. Liang Tao, who participated in this launch TT&C mission, said that Emposat was the overall implementation unit for TT&C of the constellation first batch of launch designated by the user, and this launch was different from previous missions, and it was a challenge and a breakthrough for Emposat.
The characteristics of this mission were that there are a number of satellites, multiple command centers, and many commercial TT&C units. This launch mission involved 4 satellites and multiple commercial TT&C units, each of which made the organization and coordination of this mission more difficult. Therefore, Emposat has done a lot of work in the early stage to realize interconnection with the station networks of various commercial TT&C companies. At the same time, Emposat formulated a detailed multi-station and multi-satellite tracking plan according to the flight procedures and cooperated with the user to customize the free switching strategy of the command center.
Organization and coordination were only one of the difficulties of this launch mission. This mission put forward higher requirements for the capabilities of the ground TT&C system. Emposat combined the "wheel-type" constellation configuration of "one main and three auxiliary" 4-satellite coplanar operation to give full play to the resources of the self-built global ground station network, jointly dispatched the ground station resources of many domestic commercial companies to form a high-coverage, high-reliability ground station network system to ensure the smooth orbiting of Hongtu-1 Group 01 satellites. For the follow-up monitoring tasks of satellites, Emposat will continue to monitor and control the satellite's in-orbit status with users and satellite developers, and complete the follow-up long-term satellite operation tasks.
02 We are all " Satellite Controllers (Yu Xing Ren)"
Standing in front of the office building where Emposat is located, the huge circular building looks like a spaceship. Walking into Emposat starts with a comprehensive and careful visit, seeing the equipment that has been tested, the staff who gather together to discuss the test, and the scientific researchers who are paying full attention on the screen without letting go of any data details... It is EMPOSAT team who adhere to the " The aerospace spirit of strictness, prudence, meticulousness, and practicality ensures the safe and stable operation of commercial satellites.
Founded in 2016, Emposat is the first commercial aerospace company in China to carry out research and development of commercial aerospace TT&C technology, aerospace communication product manufacturing and spacecraft operation management services. It mainly provides low-cost, high-reliability, and more convenient one-stop solution. Some people call them the "satellite's ground escort". They describe themselves as "satellite's full-featured specialized hospital", "satellite's 4S shop", and "satellite's space property", but they also have a unified name called "Satellite Controlers (Yu Xing Ren)".
When talking about how to monitor and ensure the smooth entry of satellites into orbit during launch, and how to provide reliable TT&C and data reception services for satellites in orbit, Liang Tao answered rigorously and meticulously, but when talking about himself and more than 30 people in the team, who literally “consider the company as home” one week before the launch to ensure the success of the launch TT&C mission, he said calmly that this was a normal thing, and even a few days after the Hongtu-1 01 satellites were successfully launched, they completed the TT&C tasks of two consecutive rockets.
Each satellite pass is only about ten minutes, but these ten minutes are guarded by "Satellite Controlers (Yu Xing Ren)" like Liang Tao 24 hours a day, 365 days a week. "Each of us is responsible for certain satellite models. From the early design to the later implementation and long-term management, the model leader will always accompany the satellite, just like looking after his/her own child. The satellite runs in space every day and takes us with it. Every time the satellite’s working condition is normal, it’s the best new we hear,” Liang Tao said.
The normal working condition of the satellite is the wish of every "Satellite Controllers (Yu Xing Ren)", and it is also the persistence of every "Satellite Controllers (Yu Xing Ren)". "Yu" in Chinese means to control, and Emposat makes every satellite safer.
03 Provide full-cycle services for satellites
"EMPOSAT means empowering satellites, and empowering satellites is also the purpose of Emposat." Zhang Jianhua, senior vice president of the company, specially explained the meaning of Emposat logo. Since the establishment of Emposat in 2016, it has always been its mission to "make satellites more usable and easier to use". In 7 years, Emposat has built the most extensive commercial satellite ground station network in China, and has built satellite ground stations in West Asia, South America, Africa, the South Pacific and other regions.
Through research and development, the company has mastered the key technologies of space dynamics, has core capabilities such as satellite formation complex orbit control, electric propulsion satellite orbit control, and satellite collision warning, and has successfully implemented China's 4D "Gaojing-1" and Hongtu-1 01 satellites and other high-value, high-performance complex business satellites for TT&C tasks.
Up to now, Emposat has successfully provided paid services for 223 satellites and rockets, which is far ahead in the domestic commercial TT&C market. "We have successfully provided paid services for 223 satellites and rockets. Satellites of traditional state-owned satellite development and operation units such as Dongfanghong Bufeng-1 and intelligent remote sensing satellites; satellites and rockets of leading commercial aerospace companies such as Galaxy Space, GEESPACE, Changguang Satellite, GALACTIC ENERGY, and Space Pioneer; Wuhan University’s Luojia-1-2-3 satellite, Tsinghua University's scientific experiment satellite and other satellites launched by universities." Senior Vice President Zhang Jianhua said.
"The breakthrough and growth of Emposat in the past 7 years is inseparable from the fact that it has attached great importance to research and development in the past three years, and the proportion of R&D investment has always remained above 20% of revenue," said Zhang Jianhua, senior vice president of Emposat. Through the combination of independent research and development and joint research and development with universities, the satellite has mastered the core key technologies of TT&C services represented by satellite formation orbit control, electric propulsion satellite orbit control, and satellite collision early warning, as well as the TT&C baseband and high-speed data transmission baseband, self-tracking receiver, portable ground station, large-scale satellite ground station integration and other representative TT&C hardware technology. "At Emposat, you only need to put forward your requirements, and leave the rest to us. We keep satellites under control."
04 Build a satellite 4S store
Haidian District is the birthplace of China's aerospace industry. The development of the aerospace industry has unique advantages. It not only has industrial clusters and a complete industrial chain, but also has a large number of aerospace research institutes and universities in Haidian District, with outstanding talent advantages. In recent years, with the development of the aerospace industry, the talent and technology of aerospace research institutes and universities have had a spillover effect. With the help of the country's encouragement of the development of the commercial aerospace industry and the combination of social capital, a large number of commercial aerospace companies have emerged in Haidian.
Zhang Jianhua, senior vice president, said: "At present, Emposat has cooperated with many commercial aerospace companies in Haidian District, such as PIESAT, Galaxy Space, Guodian High-Tech, ELLIPSPACE, etc., which has realized the synergy of the industrial chain and prospered the commercial aerospace industry ecology in Haidian District."
In 2016, Zhao Lei, the founder, CEO and president of Emposat, was keenly aware that low-cost, high-efficiency TT&C services in the commercial aerospace field are the rigid needs of the entire satellite rocket launch and operation. Combining market prospects and rigid needs, Emposat began to develop business layout. Regarding the future development and layout of Emposat, Senior Vice President Zhang Jianhua said firmly that "Emposat will position itself as a builder and operator of aerospace industry infrastructure. The standard field and the global space situational awareness system provide global commercial satellites with one-stop solution for spacecraft on-orbit transportation management, including on-orbit operation and management of spacecraft, including TT&C, operation control, remote sensing satellite calibration, collision warning, space debris clearance, on-orbit refueling and maintenance. Emposat will become the space property manager of the satellite and the 4S store of the satellite.”