Ahead of Singles’ Day, Alibaba goes to space

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China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba announced today that it will activate a “one station, one satellite” plan before November 11, 2018, our sister site reports.

The company said a step into space will start by launching a mini space station called “Candy Tin” and a communication satellite called “Tmall International”. It is unclear if Alibaba independently carried out R&D and manufacturing processes with its affiliate. No public information on whether the space station and satellite will cooperate with state-backed or global space projects in the future. Alibaba hasn’t replied to TechNode’s further media requests or made any clarifications by the publication of this article.

According to Alibaba, a major purpose of the plan is to enhance customers’ user experience during the 11.11 (also known as “Single’s Day) shopping festival. The giant says the space technology will better serve the integration of online and offline shopping interactions during the festival.

Though the company didn’t reveal whether the company is considering owning more satellites and using them as exclusive tech sources for Alibaba-only services and R&D, the company is ahead of many rivals in building its own communication tech base and internet of things (IoT).

The e-commerce giant also confirmed that the plan will cooperate with research institutions for space technology and practices of autonomous driving. An exclusive communication infrastructure system which processes data, communication requests, and high-precision navigation interactions are likely to accelerate Alibaba’s tech trials.

“Candy Tin” and “Tmall International” are not Alibaba’s first space attempts. In 2016, the company cooperated with state institutions and planned to launch a satellite named after its sales project “Ju Huasuan (聚划算)” in 2017 for marketing purposes. According to a report by Financial Times in November 2017, China had a 3% share of the commercial space industry but was seeking to capture 10% by 2020.