China / Society

Giant leap for satellite communication

By Zhao Lei in Xichang, Sichuan province ( Updated: 2015-10-18 18:01

Nations in South and Southeast Asia as well as Oceania are to benefit from a communications satellite launched by China over the weekend, according to project managers.

"With the strong capacities of its C-band and Ku-band transponders, the Apstar-9 is capable of covering China, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand as well as Hawaii," said Chen Xun, vice-president of the Hong Kong-based APT Satellite Co Ltd, which will operate the Apstar-9 when the satellite completes its in-orbit tests in a month's time.

"The satellite will start commercial operations after the in-orbit tests, helping better connect countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Moreover, its intensified coverage for Southeast Asia will offer our clients in this region the best communications service that will be unmatched by any other satellites in the market," he said.

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, stretches from southern China to Southeast Asia and Africa. The ambitious initiative aims at boosting trade, exchanges and cooperation among related nations.

The Apstar-9, developed by the China Academy of Space Technology based on its DFH-4 satellite platform, has another unique edge – its Ku-band transponders are specifically designed to fit maritime communications in the vast waters from the eastern Indian Ocean to the western Pacific Ocean with broadband capacities, which means the satellite is suitable for maritime sectors such as the ocean shipping industry.

"It is the only communications satellite that can provide a broadband service to Asian-Pacific users, enabling shipping companies to follow their vessels and sailors to keep contact with their family on a regular basis rather than suffering isolation due to bad conditions," Chen said.

Pre-launch sales of the transponders were satisfactory as many communications users have signed contracts with APT Satellite to procure services provided by Apstar-9, he said.

As one of the leading satellite operators in the Asia-Pacific region, APT Satellite now operates four communications satellites - Apstar-5, Apstar-6, Apstar-7 and Apstar-9A – all of which were made by foreign manufacturers.

The Apstar-9 is the first China-developed communications satellite introduced by Chen's company, marking a breakthrough by delivering a satellite to a leading international operator by the Chinese space industry.

The Apstar-9 blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province on Saturday. A Long March-3B rocket sent the 5,250-kg spacecraft into geostationary transfer orbit to replace the old Apstar-9A. The mission marked the fourth time that the Long March-3B has lifted Apstar series satellites since 1997.

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