China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group conducted its first successful satellite launch on Wednesday, sending nine into low earth orbit as it builds out a satellite network to provide more accurate navigation for autonomous vehicles.
The self-designed and manufactured GeeSAT-1 satellites, were launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan. Geely said it expects another 63 to be in orbit by 2025 and eventually plans to have a constellation of 240.
With the launch, Geely becomes the second major automaker to have an allied space business. SpaceX, owned by Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk, has more than 2,000 satellites in orbit for its Starlink network that offers commercial internet services. Starlink plans to have a first-generation network of 4,408 satellites.