Fifteen Asian-Pacific countries are gathering in Beijing to establish a space cooperation organization in the region.
They are expected to discuss forming an official group, known as the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization and sign formal proceedings.
The organization will help promote the development of space technologies and their applications, said Luan Enjie, minister of China National Space Administration at the opening ceremony held yesterday.
Treating peaceful utilization of space as its purpose, China will apply space technologies in the field of environmental protection, remote sensing, meteorology, oceanography, and disaster prevention and mitigation, the minister said.
At the preliminary meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand in August, representatives agreed on organization rules and designated Beijing as the group's headquarters.
The organization is to be officially established later next year after the approval of the governments of participating countries, according to Luo Ge, secretary general of Asia Pacific Multilateral Cooperation in Space Technology and Application.
According to Luo, who also is the director and secretary general of the Foreign Affairs Department of China National Space Administration, the world's first constellation consisting of eight satellites will be in place within the next eight years.
He said China, together with some other countries, will develop and launch three or four satellites in two to three years and the rest of the eight satellites in five to eight years for the constellation.
Circling 700 kilometers above the earth, the satellites will monitor the natural conditions of the planet and send back images and data to be used first by Asian-Pacific countries.
Luo said other countries interested in the program would be welcomed as partners.
(China Daily November 11, 2003)