China's first anti-jamming satellite, capable of carrying radio and TV signals to the whole of China, is scheduled to be sent into orbit next year from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
Officials with the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, which developed the satellite, said the SINOSAT-II was designed to resist possible interference from outside sources.
However, the officials, declining to be identified, said, "We cannot tell you right now how effective the satellite will be in resisting such interference. Everything will be clear after it is launched."
"Interference" refers mainly to attacks by Falun Gong cult devotees on television signals transmitted by the Sino Satellite (SINOSAT) system, which covers the entire nation.
One of the latest attacks occurred in October, when Falun Gong cult followers prevented Chinese viewers from watching broadcasts of China's first manned space mission by blocking SINOSAT.
Signals transmitted by cult activists interfered with the broadcast of the Shenzhou V flight and other regular programs of China Central Television and some local TV stations.
The illegal signals originated in Taiwan, according to the Ministry of Information Industry.
The large-capacity SINOSAT-II, designed and developed solely by China, has a 15-year mission life, the China News Service quoted Zhou Zhicheng as saying. Zhou is the satellite's chief designer.
An experimental satellite will soon be sent by air to Xichang for a one-month rehearsal.
The rehearsal should indicate how well the SINOSAT-II and the launch system work so that next year's launch will be a success, sources said. The real SINOSAT-II is currently being manufactured.
If successful, SINOSAT-II will become China's stepping stone to the international large-capacity communication satellite market, sources said.
Currently, China sells no such satellite in the international market; China itself is leasing them from other countries.
With a record number of satellite launches planned for this year, China's space program is entering a pivotal period.
The country is looking to place 10 satellites into orbit in 2004, more than any other year in history, according to Zhang Qingwei, a top aerospace official.
Last year the nation not only launched half a dozen satellites into orbit, but also joined the very small club of nations who have put humans into space. Other than China, only the former Soviet Union and the United States have accomplished the feat.
(China Daily March 4, 2004)