Chinese aerospace firm plans space ride with UK partner

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A United Kingdom satellite company has secured a 25-million-pound ($35 million) contract to lend a high-resolution Earth observation spacecraft to a Chinese partner for seven years.

Beijing-based Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Co will lease the satellite from Guildford-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. The satellite will be launched on the Indian Space Research Organization's Polar rocket in August.

The contract was signed in Beijing last week, in the presence of UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox.

The two companies have extensively collaborated since 2011, when Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd agreed to build three new satellites for Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Co, China's largest independent commercial satellite operator, to use for seven years, for 110 million pounds.

These three satellites were launched in 2015. So far, they have been used to take pictures of land use and landscape changes from space.

The new satellite, with design and functions identical to the previous three, will do the same work.

Martin Sweeting, executive chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology, said the new contract "consolidates the success" of the previous three, which are collectively known as Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology's existing TripleSat Constellation service.

"Adding capacity to the Constellation with a new satellite demonstrates the high fidelity of the imagery and the success of Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology's business model," Sweeting said.

The agreement is regarded as an ideal initiative for British and Chinese companies to further partnership in satellite technology.

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