Satel­lites’ im­ages to open up mar­ket

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­

China launched two com­mer­cial re­mote-sens­ing satel­lites on Wed­nes­day in an at­tempt to break for­eign com­pa­nies’ dom­i­nance in high-res­o­lu­tion ground im­ages.

The Su­perView 1A and 1B were lifted atop a Long March 2D car­rier rocket at 11:23 am from the Taiyuan Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter in Shanxi prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to China Aerospace Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Corp, de­vel­oper of the satel­lite se­ries.

The two iden­ti­cal satel­lites will be part of the Su­perView net­work of at least 24 Earth ob­ser­va­tion satel­lites, which the State-owned CASC ex­pects to be­come one of the world’s largest com­mer­cial providers of space im­agery and geospa­tial data, said Yang Yike, di­rec­tor of high­res­o­lu­tion satel­lite projects at the com­pany.

Af­ter the Su­perView 1A and 1B are placed in their po­si­tions 500 km above Earth, they will start to take pic­tures of Earth with ground im­age res­o­lu­tion of 0.5 me­ter — the clear­est yet pro­duced by Chi­nese com­mer­cial satel­lites, he said.

China now op­er­ates the Gaofen net­work that has four satel­lites in ser­vice, but the sys­tem mainly serves govern­ment de­part­ments and the public sec­tor rather than busi­nesses, Yang said.

“We want to build a com­mer­cial net­work that will con­sist of 16 op­ti­cal satel­lites like the Su­perView 1A and 1B, four op­ti­cal satel­lites that are more ad­vanced, four radar satel­lites as well as sev­eral mini-satel­lites,” he said. “We will ar­range one to two launches for the net­work each year from 2017 to 2022. The whole sys­tem will be built by 2022.”

Xu Lip­ing, gen­eral man­ager of Bei­jing Space View Tech­nol­ogy Co, dis­trib­u­tor of im­ages and data gen­er­ated by Su­perView satel­lites, said govern­ment de­part­ments, public in­sti­tu­tions and com­pa­nies are ex­pected to spend 500 mil­lion yuan ($71.9 mil­lion) on the pro­cure­ment of 2.5-m-res­o­lu­tion or clearer im­ages, adding that for­eign com­pa­nies ac­count for about 75 per­cent of this mar­ket. In ad­di­tion, all of the high­est­def­i­ni­tion im­ages, such as the 0.5-m-res­o­lu­tion ones now avail­able on the Chi­nese mar­ket, are con­trolled by for­eign providers.

“The Su­perView net­work will en­able us to end for­eign com­pa­nies’ dom­i­nance in this mar­ket and will force them to lower their prices,” she said.

Zhang Xiaomin, a se­nior re­searcher at the China Academy of Space Tech­nol­ogy who took part in the Su­perView satel­lites’ de­vel­op­ment, said that com­pared with for­eign satel­lites of its kind, Su­perView satel­lites fea­ture more func­tions, stronger ca­pa­bil­i­ties and higher ac­cu­racy.

A small satel­lite de­signed by about 40 stu­dents at Bei­jing Bayi School un­der the guid­ance of space sci­en­tists was also part of Wed­nes­day’s launch. The satel­lite, Bayi Young­sters’ Ex­pe­di­tion, will take pic­tures of the ground and con­duct ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tions and au­dio trans­mis­sion ex­per­i­ments, Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

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