Published: 11:18, July 26, 2023 | Updated: 11:25, July 26, 2023
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First satellite manufacturing plant set up
By William Xu in Hong Kong

Company employees control a robotic arm to produce satellite components at the ASPACE Hong Kong Satellite Manufacturing Center on Tuesday. (WILLIAM XU / CHINA DAILY)

Hong Kong inaugurated its first commercial satellite production plant on Tuesday, which is expected to produce at least 200 commercial satellites per year. 

Experts said the plant will provide a strong boost to the city’s advanced manufacturing, scientific research and education sectors, as well as provide more high-end jobs for talented individuals both from home and abroad.

The ASPACE Hong Kong Satellite Manufacturing Center, built by a local commercial aerospace enterprise, Hong Kong Aerospace Technology Group (HKATG), spans an area of about 18,580 square meters at the Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Tseung Kwan O.

With over 200 sets of sophisticated in-built manufacturing devices, the center is targeting an annual output of at least 200 commercial satellites, weighing from 30 kilograms to 100 metric tons, said Sun Fengquan, co-chairman and chief executive officer of HKATG, at the facility’s opening ceremony.

The satellites are designed for a variety of commercial uses, including optical and radar remote sensing, communication, and navigation, Sun said. 

He said the plant’s inauguration marks an important step in the development of Hong Kong’s aerospace industry and precise manufacturing, which are both highlighted in the city’s future development road map.

Sun also highlighted some of the advantages that Hong Kong offers to the satellite business, including the city’s global influence and reputation for technological innovation, as well as its low tax rate. Additionally, he noted that Hong Kong’s talent attraction policies are also a pull factor for professionals from all over the world to join the industry.

Sun underscored that many countries and regions have included the aerospace industry in their development strategies. Seeing a huge demand for satellites in the private sector, he said he expects the market size of HKATG to reach $30 billion by 2027.

As a commercial aerospace enterprise focusing on satellite network engineering and precise satellite manufacturing, HKATG has provided satellite services including weather analysis, air and water pollution monitoring and traffic management in different regions in China, such as Hong Kong and Shandong province, with its low-orbit satellite constellation, Golden Bauhinia.

Revealing that the HKATG also plans to build a satellite launching center, Sun said the group aims to provide a one-stop solution that incorporates satellites’ manufacturing, testing, launching, managing and data analysis in the future, which will reduce the company’s costs of producing satellites and providing associated data services by 20 percent, he added.

During the opening ceremony, HKATG signed memorandums of understanding with several local and overseas partners, including Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency and Spain’s Celestia Aerospace.

Gloria Garcia-Cuadrado, CEO of Celestia Aerospace, said that her company plans to work with HKATG on satellite launches and geographical observation missions. She said Hong Kong is a business-oriented and open-minded city, and she expects to exchange more experiences with counterparts in Hong Kong to strengthen the competitiveness of both sides.

Peter Lui, president of Hong Kong Aerospace Society, told China Daily that the aerospace industry covers a wide spectrum of areas, including high-end equipment manufacturing and scientific research and education, and there are close links between the different areas. The completion of this factory will boost Hong Kong’s development in all these areas, he said. 

Lui noted that the factory can also offer opportunities to local students who aspire to engage in the civil aerospace field. It will serve as a reminder to them that, instead of having to pursue their career outside Hong Kong, they will also be able to find good opportunities in the city to unleash their potential, Lui said.

A growing satellite manufacturing industry can also serve as an incentive to attract more global talents to Hong Kong, he added.