Teens’ mini-satel­lite now send­ing sig­nals

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Stu­dents at Bei­jing’s Bayi School, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s alma mater, have a new rea­son to boast: They worked with space sci­en­tists to de­velop and launch Chi­nese teenagers’ first satel­lite, which is now or­bit­ing hun­dreds of kilo­me­ters above Earth.

The 2.4-kg mini-satel­lite, Bayi Young­sters’ Ex­pe­di­tion, was launched atop a Long March 2D car­rier rocket on Wed­nes­day morn­ing from the Taiyuan Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter in Shanxi prov­ince. The ma­jor task of the launch was to lift two com­mer­cial Earthob­ser­va­tion satel­lites that are much larger and heav­ier.

The mini-space­craft has a de­signed life span of 180 days in a sun-syn­chro­nous or­bit and then will be con­trolled to fly back into the at­mos­phere to burn out so it won’t be­come space de­bris, said Zhou Xi­u­bin, a se­nior re­searcher at the China Aero­space Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Corp who over­sees the project.

He said the satel­lite has equip­ment to take pic­tures of the ground and to con­duct ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tion and au­dio trans­mis­sion ex­per­i­ments.

The space­craft and in­stru­ments were de­signed and as­sem­bled by about 40 Bayi stu­dents in­structed by more than 20 ex­perts at the China Cen­ter for Aero­space Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy In­ter­na­tional Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, where Zhou is a deputy di­rec­tor, as well as the China Acad­emy of Space Tech­nol­ogy and Nan­jing Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy.

“Stu­dents who were at a ground track­ing and con­trol sta­tion in Kash­gar (in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion) re­ceived sig­nals sent from the satel­lite as soon as it started to or­bit Earth yes­ter­day,” he said on Thurs­day. “It is work­ing well. Now we can call the project a suc­cess.”

Zhu Kai, vice-dean of Bayi School, said his stu­dents plan to use the space­craft to ob­serve Earth and to trans­mit Chi­nese songs back to Earth. He said the school will take ad­van­tage of the satel­lite to pop­u­lar­ize space knowl­edge.

Bayi School has built a ground track­ing and con­trol sta­tion on its cam­pus and is train­ing its stu­dents to use the fa­cil­ity, ac­cord­ing to Zhu.

Be­fore Wed­nes­day’s launch, Pres­i­dent Xi sent a let­ter to stu­dents at Bayi School who are tak­ing part in the project, say­ing he was pleased with their pas­sion and brav­ery in the ex­plo­ration of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy.

Xi also said he hopes the stu­dents will remian in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing new things.

Yang Shang­wen, a satel­lite de­signer who men­tored stu­dents in the satel­lite’s de­vel­op­ment, said that the United States, Rus­sia and Is­rael are among other coun­tries that have launched satel­lites de­signed by teenagers. He said the Chi­nese stu­dents were se­lected from ap­pli­cants ac­cord­ing to their aca­demic per­for­mance in sci­ence and in­no­va­tion.

Xu Yifei, a Bayi stu­dent and mem­ber of the de­vel­op­ment team, said she helped de­sign the satel­lite’s power sys­tem. She also has ap­plied to take part in the track­ing work be­cause “I have been charmed by the beauty of space ex­plo­ration and want very much to con­tinue to be part of the satel­lite’s op­er­a­tions”.

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