Efforts to monitor natural disasters and the environment will get a lift from
aloft next year, when three small satellites will be launched.
"We plan to send a small-satellite constellation into orbit in 2008 for
environment and disaster monitoring and forecasting," said Zhang Qingwei,
president of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
The initial constellation for environmental monitoring and disaster relief
will consist of two optical satellites - which will be launched from one rocket
- and a radar satellite, company sources said.
Following the 2008 launch, at least four more satellites will be sent into
orbit within two years to better monitor, predict and assess ecological damage,
pollution and disasters in any weather and over larger swathes.
Speaking at the opening of the 11th Space Conference of Pacific-basin
Societies, Zhang said research and development of space technology in China has
been increasingly prompted by the surging demand for social and economic growth.
The three-day meeting is co-sponsored by the Chinese Society of Astronautics,
the American Astronautical Society and the Japanese Rocket Society.
"China is shifting its satellite research and development work from trial
applications to mission services," Zhang said.
Natural disasters, including typhoons, floods, droughts and earthquakes, last
year claimed 3,186 lives and forced 13.845 million people to move, while
incurring direct losses of at least 252.81 billion yuan ($32.4 billion) - a new
high in the past eight years - Vice-Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo said in
Besides, the number of mass accidents caused by environmental problems have
increased by 30 percent annually, and the country reported 161 pollution
accidents last year, according to figures from the State Environmental
The satellites will help China improve its capabilities in reducing disasters
and protecting the environment, Zhang said.
Ultimately, China will expand the constellation into one comprising eight
small satellites, according to Fan Yida, director of the remote-sensing
department under the National Disaster Reduction Center.
He did not specify a timetable.
The building and application of China's satellite constellation is open for
international cooperation, Fan said yesterday.
(China Daily 05/17/2007 page1)