5G equivalent network speeds in space allow unhindered video call of the taikonaut with the ground

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Screenshot of CCTV video

The three taikonauts aboard the central module of China’s Tianhe space station some 400 kilometers above Earth received the first video call from Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Beijing control center on Wednesday morning, impressing many with the high images. resolution, high and clear voice and a ground-to-space connection with almost zero delay. What made the connection so smooth?

A “space network” made up of three local Tianlian satellites ensured unhindered communication between ground and space, according to China Space News, the newspaper co-hosted by two state-owned space giants, China Aerospace. Science and Technology Corporation and the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.

Tianlian satellites are China’s relay communications and data tracking satellites that fly in geostationary orbit. They are primarily responsible for providing data relay, measurement and control and transmission services for the spacecraft in orbit on a global scale.

The downlink speed of the station network is 1.2G, which is equivalent to the 5G communication speed on the ground. Its delay is barely a second, the system developer told CCTV News.

Yi Yusheng, chief designer of the space station’s measurement, control and communication subsystem at the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, explained that taikonauts can make video calls, receive emails, and even watch. television programs online via the station’s telecommunications network during their three-month stay.

“They can also have private phone calls with their families using a special phone, which will not be heard by any ground control personnel,” Yi said.

Jing Zheng, deputy commander-in-chief of the space station, added that the Wi-Fi in space feels like the ground, supporting daily taikonaut communications on WeChat and video calling.

More than 10 wired and wireless network cameras, bluetooth headsets, cell phones, PADs and laptops were brought into the main cabin of Tianhe to ensure its connection with the ground by various means.

These terminals will upload the images and voice messages to the space station’s Ethernet switch, which will then transmit the data to the ground via a high-speed relay antenna.

A major breakthrough was made for the relay antenna as the updated version could be repaired and maintained, with the aim of extending its life to meet the operational needs of the space station for 15 years, a said a system developer.

Yi added that the ground-to-space connection will not be disrupted, as Tianlian’s three satellites and the space station’s relay antenna could achieve a coverage rate of over 90%, which means telecommunications signals can reach the craft for more than 90% of its time in orbit. Once the other two laboratory modules are docked to the main cabin and the complex of three modules is formed, there will be two more cell towers that will achieve 100% coverage of the ground-to-space connection.


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