In a groundbreaking development, Chinese media reported the launch of the Jielong-3 or Smart Dragon-3 rocket off the coast of Yangjiang on February 3, 2024. The highlight of this mission was the deployment of what is claimed to be the ‘world’s first’ in-orbit AI commercial hypersatellite, named Xingshidai-18.
The satellite, developed by Guoxing Aerospace Technology, boasts an integrated sensing network satellite with a sixth-generation computing system. Unlike its predecessor, the WonderJourney, this new hypersatellite is equipped with a smart algorithm, creating an integrated sensing network similar to how human senses collaborate to provide a comprehensive understanding of the surroundings.
The Xingshidai-18’s role in space involves processing and analyzing various sensory data gathered by its onboard instruments, including cameras and spectrometers. Launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, the satellite aims to enhance its capabilities in Earth observation, data collection, and potentially autonomous decision-making based on the analyzed information.
This launch is significant for two key reasons. Firstly, it marks the second launch of the Jielong-3 rocket within two months, emphasizing China’s strategic approach to transporting multiple satellites into orbit at a lower cost. This competitive edge positions China in the global space race alongside companies like SpaceX.
Secondly, the deployment of the AI-powered Xingshidai-18 reflects China’s commitment to advancing space capabilities and delving into the frontier of AI-driven satellite technology. While the current focus is on testing the satellite’s smart system in space, future missions may see a network of such satellites collaborating in communication networks.
This achievement builds upon China’s prior space experiments, including the AI-controlled satellite camera in April of the previous year. Such initiatives showcase China’s exploration of AI’s potential in satellite operations, contributing to the nation’s progress in the realm of space technology.
The launch of the Xingshidai-18 marks a significant milestone in combining artificial intelligence with space exploration, underscoring China’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of technological innovation in the cosmos.