HKUST Successfully Launches “HKUST-FYBB#1” Satellite Kick-starting Satellite Constellation Program

HKUST Successfully Launches “HKUST-FYBB#1” Satellite Kick-starting Satellite Constellation Program

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The “HKUST-FYBB#1” satellite is successfully launched. (Provided by Chang Guang)
The “HKUST-FYBB#1” satellite is successfully launched. (Provided by Chang Guang) [Download Photo]

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) held a ceremony today (August 26) in celebration of the successful launch of the high-resolution optical satellite “HKUST-FYBB#1”. The satellite had entered the designated orbit for operation at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu Province at 12.59 pm yesterday, marking the start of a joint venture between HKUST and Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co. Ltd (Chang Guang) for scientific research.

Following the collection of the first batch of earth environmental monitoring remote sensing data from space by “HKUST-FYBB#1”, both sides will join hands to build a multimodal remote sensing satellite constellation and develop a comprehensive system for environmental monitoring and disaster forecasting system.

The officiating guests of the celebration ceremony were Dr. WANG Songmiao, Secretary General of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (CLO); Mr. FANG Jianming, Deputy Commissioner of the Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR); Ms. WU Cheng, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Education and Technology of CLO; Mr. Jeff SZE, Under Secretary for Education of the HKSAR Government; Mr. Clarence LEUNG, Under Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs; Dr. Marcus LIU, Political Assistant to the Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry; Dr. John CHAN, HKUST Pro-Chancellor; The Hon. Andrew LIAO Cheung-Sing, HKUST Court Chairman; Prof. Harry SHUM, HKUST Council Chairman; Prof. Nancy IP, HKUST President; several Legislative Council Members; members of the HKUST Court, Council Members and the senior management.

More than 400 faculty members and students of the University, as well as visitors from the wider community including about 30 pupils and parents from PLK Yip Ng Bun Bun Kindergarten and PLK Yip Ng Bun Bun Queen’s Hill Kindergarten, joined the ceremony at the Shaw Auditorium to celebrate the historic satellite launch. The showing of a video clip of the successful launch of the “HKUST-FYBB#1” was greeted by a round of warm applause from the participants. Meanwhile, over 7500 people have also joined the event virtually.

At the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Mr. Francis YIP Chi-Hung and his wife, Mrs. Catherine YIP NG Bun-Bun, who sponsored the satellite launch; HKUST Vice-President for Institutional Advancement Prof. WANG Yang, the driving force behind the plan, and Prof. ZHANG Limin, Head and Chair Professor of HKUST’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering who co-lead the research project, witnessed the historic moment.

Prof. Wang and Prof. Zhang were connected via telephone with three HKUST speakers at the ceremony, namely Prof. SU Hui, a Global STEM Professor co-leading the remote sensing technology research team; Prof. YU Hongyu, Associate Professor at HKUST’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and a student involved in the project. They discussed HKUST’s development of remote sensing satellite technology and the satellite constellation program’s potential contributions to regional environmental and disaster monitoring. The panel discussion drew enthusiastic responses from students, who proactively raised questions.

Commending the satellite launch, Under Secretary for Education Mr. Jeff Sze said, “As a top research-focused institution, HKUST has been breaking boundaries in multiple key areas. Today, I am honored to witness the successful launch of the Hong Kong higher education sector’s first earth environmental remote sensing satellite by HKUST in collaboration with Chang Guang at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. By using high-end monitoring technology to provide scientific data, the satellite will ultimately create a comprehensive environmental monitoring and disaster prediction system, making concrete contributions to Hong Kong and our country’s sustainable development goals. I know that multiple parameters of the satellite are on par with high international standards, which reflects the University's outstanding strength in scientific research and signifies the deep collaboration between the Mainland and Hong Kong in the area of aerospace technology.”

HKUST Council Chairman Prof. Harry Shum expressed gratitude to Mr. Francis Yip Chi-Hung and his wife, Mrs. Catherine Yip Ng Bun-Bun, for their generous donation, which has made the University’s satellite program possible. He said, “In the face of pressing global climate challenges, we launched this comprehensive remote sensing satellite program hoping to provide data support for macro decision-making in disaster response, environmental monitoring and sustainable resource management. The aerospace industry plays a vital role in the country’s overall development strategy. This satellite launch is yet another successful example of collaboration between the Mainland and Hong Kong in the field of aerospace. In recent years, the HKSAR Government has taken significant measures to attract and retain scientific research talents. The leading scientist behind this satellite launch, for example, is a Global STEM Professor supported by the HKSAR Government. We will continue to strengthen collaborations with all sectors to create more development opportunities for Hong Kong’s researchers. This launch will mark a dazzling milestone in Hong Kong’s integration into the national development framework.”

HKUST President Prof. Nancy Ip said, “The aerospace industry is both an integral part of national development strategies and one of the key areas of the University’s research efforts. The ‘HKUST-FYBB#1’ satellite marks our initial venture into the realm of satellite projects, which not only represents a significant step in aerospace science but also opens new direction for collaboration and exchange between the Mainland and Hong Kong. HKUST will harness its strength in scientific research and collaborate with government departments, research institutions, and industry partners to promote innovation and application of satellite remote sensing data in sustainable development, contributing to national advancement in aerospace industry through industry-academia-and-research collaboration.”

HKUST will establish an interdisciplinary research team. It will collaborate with Chang Guang, the first commercial remote sensing satellite company in Mainland China, to promote the University’s blueprint for satellite remote sensing development. In addition to the four HKUST students participating in the satellite launch, who major in physics, interdisciplinary studies, finance, and civil and environmental engineering respectively, the research team plans to recruit more local and non-local students, as well as researchers with different professional expertise, to participate in various research activities. Forthcoming efforts include satellite design, payload manufacturing, pre-launch testing, in-orbit operation and control, data analysis, and development of products for applications.

To cultivate more interest and knowledge in the aerospace field among young people, the University will introduce two courses in the upcoming academic year, namely “Applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Remote Sensing” and “Monitoring Changing Climate from Space.” The former will delve into common AI techniques in satellite remote sensing, targeting senior undergraduate and postgraduate students. The latter will be open to all undergraduates and will incorporate practical sessions involving the analysis of satellite data. Additionally, HKUST plans to regularly organize lectures and summer camps on satellite technology and work with relevant companies to provide internship opportunities for students. These endeavors strive to expose young people from diverse backgrounds and age groups to satellite remote sensing technology, while expanding the realms of teaching, research, and grooming of talent.

Following the successful deployment of the “HKUST-FYBB#1” satellite, it can form a constellation with the existing Chang Guang satellites, providing the latest real-time imagery and remote sensing data not only of Hong Kong but also the globe. The research team at HKUST will utilize the imagery and data for analysis and application in various fields such as disaster management, smart city development, and sustainable resource management. Looking ahead, the team will also collaborate with Chang Guang to develop key satellite technologies with carbon emission detection and monitoring capabilities, contributing to disaster management, environmental monitoring, and carbon neutrality efforts in Hong Kong, the nation, and the world.

Please refer to this link for the ceremony playback. 

About The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) ( is a world-class research intensive university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science. HKUST offers an international campus, and a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy to nurture well-rounded graduates with global vision, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking. Over 80% of our research work were rated “Internationally excellent” or “world leading” in the Research Assessment Exercise 2020 of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee. We were ranked 2nd in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings 2023, and our graduates were ranked 30th worldwide and among the best from universities from Asia in Global Employability University Ranking and Survey 2022. As of early 2023, HKUST members have founded 1,645 active start-ups, including nine unicorns and 11 exits (IPO or M&A), generating economic impact worth over HK$400 billion. InvestHK cited QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 to demonstrate the performance of five world’s top 100 local universities in several innovation-centric areas, among which HKUST ranked top in four engineering and materials science subjects.

About Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd.
Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd. (CGSTL), founded on December 1st, 2014, it is the first commercial remote sensing satellite company in China, with the total registered capital of 1.97 billion yuan. Jilin-1 satellite constellation is the core project under construction by CGSTL. The phase I of the project consists of 138 high-performance optical remote sensing satellites. covering video, high resolution, wide band, infrared, multispectral and other series. At present, CGSTL has successfully realized 108 “Jilin-1” satellites in orbit through 21 successful launches. Up to now, CGSTL has built the world’s largest sub meter commercial remote sensing satellite constellation, occupying a dominant position in remote sensing information services, it has gradually become - an important global source of space remote sensing information. According to the calculation of the existing satellites in orbit, the Jilin-1 satellite constellation can visit anywhere in the world 35 to 37 times a day, with the ability to photograph a global three times a year and a national nine times a year. It provides high-quality remote-sensing information and product services for land security, geographic mapping, land planning, agricultural and forestry production, ecological environmental protection, smart cities and other fields, which is of great significance to the construction of digital China. Relying on the Jilin-1 remote sensing satellite data, CGSTL can provide customers with high time resolution, high spatial resolution, high spectral resolution, fast wide area coverage of satellite remote sensing data and comprehensive application services of spatial information based on satellite remote sensing data. At the same time, with its core technology accumulation in satellite platforms and space optical payloads, CGSTL is able to provide customers with customized satellite manufacturing and related services, including satellite whole and part components, test and test services, on-board services.

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(This news was originally published by the HKUST Public Affairs Office here.)