China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, the nation's largest missile maker, will use its Kuaizhou solid-propellant rockets to launch Hainan province's first satellites in 2019, according to project managers.
Zhang Di, chairman of Expace Technology, a CASIC subsidiary that provides commercial launch services, said his company will launch several Kuaizhou 1A and Kuaizhou 11 carrier rockets over three years starting 2019. They will lift 10 satellites for the Hainan Earth-Observation Satellite Constellation, the first spacecraft developed in the southernmost island province.
"We are in talks with the satellites' developers on their launch schedules and will provide the most suitable plan for them to deliberate," he said on Monday on the sidelines of a fundraising ceremony for Expace Technology in Shanghai.
According to Zhang, in 2019, Kuaizhou rockets will lift three Hainan 1 optical satellites. The next year, three Hainan 1 satellites and two Sanya 1 multispectral remote-sensing satellites will be launched. In 2021, two Sansha 1 synthetic aperture radar satellites are expected to be sent into space.
"We have a flexible solution package - if the satellite weighs about 200 to 300 kilograms, we will use the Kuaizhou 1A, and if it has a weight of around 1 metric ton then we will use the Kuaizhou 11," he said.
The Kuaizhou 1A was first launched in January. It has a liftoff weight of 30 tons and is capable of sending 200 kg of payload into a sun-synchronous orbit, or 300 kg of payload into a low-Earth orbit.
Kuaizhou 11 is still being tested and will make its first flight in 2018, launching six satellites into orbit. It will have a liftoff weight of 78 tons and will be able to place a 1-ton payload into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 700 km, or a 1.5-ton payload into a low-Earth orbit, according to CASIC.
Yang Tianliang, chief designer of the Hainan satellites, said at a commercial space forum last week in Sanya that Hainan administers hundreds of islands and reefs in the South China Sea, so it urgently needs the assistance of space-based platforms to monitor these territories and surrounding waters.
A constellation of 10 satellites will be capable of fully monitoring the South China Sea in real time, helping the country better safeguard its sovereignty, develop the region and deal with contingencies, he said.
Yang is head of the Hainan branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth. He is leading a group of engineers to develop and produce the satellites, which are sponsored by the Hainan provincial government.
Xu Guanhua, former minister of science and technology, said at the forum in Sanya that the constellation will be useful for marine industries, exploring marine resources and protecting ocean environment.
(Source: China Daily, December 20, 2017, contributed by ZHAO LEI)