China Center for Resources Satellite Data & Application (CRESDA) has announced it will launch 18 satellites over the next 10 years, making up a constellation of land, environmental, marine and meteorological resources.
The first of the 18 – named 02B – will be a Sino-Brazilian ‘earth resource’ satellite, set to launch next year.
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The Chinese State Council has already approved the construction and development of the next two satellites ’03’ and 04′ – understood to be a marine and meteorological satellites respectively.
The purposes of the full range of satellites is unknown, although China has claimed it will release data collected by their 02B satellite free of charge to interested parties.
CRESDA – who will manage the range of satellites and their data – are tasked with assisting in the developments of Chinese space technologies, bring about economic benefits to China, provide high quality and effective services for the State Council, Central Military Committee, and the related department of government and local authorities, it claims on its official site.
They are not involved with China’s main satellite launch of this year, SinoSat 2, which is the country’s first direct broadcasting satellite – with a coverage area that will supply the whole of the nation. SinoSat 2 is based on the Dongfanghong 4 platform – and will be in service for 15 years.
China is trying to accelerate its space program, with the flagship program of manned space flight still in its early days. Its third manned mission, Shenzhou-7, has been delayed until 2007.
However, since the 1970’s, China has managed to launch 70 satellites – with 20 still in working service today.