The owner of the Chinese company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, billionaire Li Shufu, wants to follow the path of Ilon Mask and create a private space company. The Chinese billionaire is not going to build rockets, instead the company plans to create telecommunication satellites, similar to the ones produced by the Starlink project.
Holding company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group on Tuesday began construction of a production and testing center in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province. Zhejiang Geely plans to launch commercial low-orbit satellites by the end of the year.
Li is betting that his companions will give Geely an advantage in the growing industry of self-driving cars and provide more accurate navigation systems that can determine the location with an accuracy of a centimeter.
The Geely holding includes Volvo Cars and Geely Automobile. In December 2017, Geely spent $3.9 billion to become the largest shareholder of Volvo AB, the world’s second truck manufacturer. Geely also gained control of the British sports car manufacturer Lotus and Malaysian automaker Proton. In 2013, it acquired Manganese Bronze Holdings, a bankrupt maker of black London cabs. In 2018, Geely became the largest shareholder of Daimler AG.
Li Shufu is expanding his empire
Li expanded his empire beyond the automotive industry. So, Geely invested in VoloCity air taxi to put it into commercial operation over the next three years. In 2018 the company agreed with the state corporation China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. on the construction of supersonic trains.
Today, a number of companies are striving to place large orbiting constellations of satellites in orbit to provide global Internet coverage. Among them are OneWeb, Telesat, LeoSat and Amazon. As reported, OneWeb also launched the first six satellites of its own system into orbit last February.
Facebook is launching satellites as well
Facebook is also actively working on satellite launch plans. Documents submitted to the FCC indicate that the Athena satellite can be launched as early as March 2020. The Facebook initiative aims to help provide Internet access in parts of the world where communication is poor. This is part of the mission, which is to bring the world closer – or, more specifically, expand the overall potential market for its services and fuel its future growth and income.
Despite a series of high-profile scandals surrounding Facebook, Zuckerberg’s space ambitions remain unchanged. The upcoming launch of the satellite is experimental, and will be only the first step in a wider project to create a network of satellites designed to provide people around the world with access to the Internet. If successful, it can compete with similar projects from SpaceX or OneWeb.