China Aerospace Science and Technology (CASC) has revealed an updated plan regarding the development of a constellation of more than 300 low-Earth orbit (LEO) small satellites to provide communications and other services worldwide.

As part of the plan, CASC expects to launch the first satellite of the proposed Hongyan constellation later this year.

Testing of the terminals, along with the verification of the satellite monitoring and control system, is to be carried out this year.

However, CASC has not disclosed any information on the launch date, size and capabilities of the satellites.

“Project Hongyan will be done in three phases, and form a global low-orbit mobile internet.”

The company also aims to launch 60 satellites of the larger Hongyan constellation by 2020 to provide basic smartphone coverage to Chinese subscribers, as part of the original plan announced in 2016.

CASC subsidiary China Great Wall Industry has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Thailand Kasetsart University to develop the constellation, reported citing news from Xinhua.

To be performed by the university as part of the Thailand 4.0 national strategy, the agreement includes satellite construction and the development of ground infrastructure, micro-satellite research and development capabilities, as well as other aspects.

China Great Wall Industry chief executive Yin Liming was quoted by as saying: “Project Hongyan will be done in three phases, and form a global low-orbit mobile internet.”

In addition, CASC sister company China Aerospace Science and Industry (CASIC) is planning to launch the narrow-band Xingyun commercial communications constellation in LEO for internet of things (IoT) operations.

The Xingyun constellation will feature 156 mini-satellites that are expected to orbit at around 1,000km above Earth. Development of the constellation is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2025.