Ambitious Space Effort Challenges China In Next Five Years
Beijing - Sept. 18, 2001
China could launch 35 or more science and application satellites in the next five years, Xinhua News Agency reported September 6. At the 2001 China Western Forum which was held in Xi'an in the central Shaanxi Province, Deputy General Manager of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) Hu Hongfu said that the company would design, develop and launch different types of satellites, totalling to 35, in this period.
The planned satellites will be used in direct-broadcasting, large capacity communications, meteorological and oceanographic observations, navigation and positioning, disaster mitigation, and seed breeding.
CASC is a State-owned very large scale high tech enterprise. The company offers five different series of satellites which include retrievable satellites, Dongfanghong comsats (DFH, Dongfanghong means "East Is Red"), Fengyun metsats (FY, Fengyun means "Wind and Cloud"), Shijian science exploration satellites (SJ, Shijian means "Practice"), and Ziyuan earth resource satellites (ZY, Ziyuan means "Resource").
CASC was also responsible for building and launching the twin prototype Beidou Navigation Test Satellites (BNTS, Beidou means "Northern Dipper", a reference to the celestial constellation).
Hu said, "Primary use of satellite technology has migrated from science experimentation and military application in the early period to many areas in the national economy."
He added: "Research, development and launch of these satellites will raise the capability, quantity and variety of Chinese application satellites to a new level. Resources of these satellites are essential fundamental facilities in the national economic development, and will have great impact particularly in developing the West."
The announcement is a reiteration of China's commitment to expand its space program in the period. In early February Director of the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST) Xu Fuxiang had said that China would launch more than 30 satellites in the current and 10th five-year economic development period, known in abbreviation as the "10 5" period which began earlier this year until 2005.
Some of the planned satellites have started development or are in preparation for launch. For example, the replacement polar-orbiting sunsynchronous metsat FY-1D and the first ocean colour satellite Haiyang-1 (HY-1, Haiyang means "Ocean") will be launched no later than June 2002. This is actually a year later than the original timeline.
Development work on the direct-broadcasting satellite (DBS) is underway and the satellite may be launched in 2004, according to Hu. The satellite will provide high quality television broadcast, educational and information transmission as well as value-added information services to the vast expanse of western China.
In the area of large capacity comsats, CASC plans to accelerate research and development to increase capacity, efficiency, bandwidth and life expectancy of the DFH-series of large comsats to international level.
The next generation DFH comsats will carry not only C-band capacity but also need to expand into Ku-, Ka- and L-band frequencies. The increase in capacity is necessary to meet the growing demand in educational and commercial television broadcast, stationary and mobile telecommunications, and data, voice and video transmission for businesses.
CASC also said that launch of the first dedicated seed breeding satellite could occur in 2003. The satellite will carry a wide selection of seeds and expose them to radiation for a period before returning to Earth.
Chinese scientists claim that seeds which have been exposed to cosmic radiation yield superior quality produce. These scientists hope that they could cultivate space seedlings that would be suitable to grow in climate of western China and help develop agriculture there.
In the ZY-series of remote sensing satellites, future development will be based on the foundation of ZY-1 which is also called China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS-1). Successors in the series will have higher resolution imagers in more spectral bands and longer operational lifetime.
Scientists will use the ZY-series of satellites to continue a decade-long survey of national resources until 2010, and monitor desertification and long term crop growth and yield estimate.
Other uses of the ZY earth resource satellites include disaster and environment pollution monitoring and evaluation, project site selection and evaluation, and city planning, surveying and cartography.
In the area of microgravity science, CASC will use retrievable satellites to conduct experiments in space life science, space material and new technologies, and space environment.
Each mission can be catered to requirements of both domestic and foreign clients, or modified for specific microgravity test mission such as the seed breeding satellite.