China is manufacturing its most sophisticated satellite platform for the development of geo-stationary satellites to be used in the country and the Asia-Pacific region, industry insiders said yesterday in Beijing.
"China's new generation geo-stationary satellite platform -- the chassis or framework that carries a satellite's equipment payload -- featuring long life and large capacity, will be put into use around 2004," Wang Haibo, an official with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), told China Daily in an exclusive interview.
The platform will be first used to develop a satellite -- Sinosat-II -- for a Beijing-based operator, Sino Satellite Communications Co., to meet the country's mounting demands for communications and broadcasting, company president Cheng Guangren confirmed yesterday.
"The new satellite platform, coded as Dongfanghong-IV, will reach or exceed the level of the advanced foreign systems currently in use," Wang said. "It has a designed lifespan of 15 years, and its end-of-life power output is expected to reach 10,000 watts -- parameters ranking the platform among the world's best."
End-of-life power output is calculated based on the beginning-of-life power of a satellite and a known degradation rate. It is a major indicator measuring the performance of a spacecraft platform.
The end-of-life power output of China's latest Dongfanghong satellite series, Dongfanghong-III -- which was based on a previous platform and launched in May 1997 -- stands at only 2,000 watts and has a designed life of eight years, Wang said.
While the Dongfanghong-III is able to carry a payload of 220 kilograms, the Dongfanghong-IV platform can support a payload of up to 800 kilograms, he said.
Fuelled by economic expansion, China has predicted an immense growth of need for more communications satellites in the years to come.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp has envisioned that China and the Asia-Pacific region may need at least 10 large-capacity communications satellites in the coming 10 years, according to the company sources.
China needs to send more than 30 satellites into space during the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05) period, most of them smaller or low-orbit satellites, according to Xu Fuxiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Space Technology.
"Through improving the reliability and capacity of the platform, we are hoping to clinch more deals for the manufacture of satellites for customers at home and abroad," Wang said.
Already, CASC has negotiated with some "potential satellite customers" in the Asia-Pacific region, but Wang declined to specify who they were.
So far, the country has not sold a single made-in-China satellite to a foreign country.
The new satellite platform represents a shift in the mode of satellite development in China, Wang said.
In a break from previous practice, China this time is developing a common platform to be used for a range of different satellites, for communications, broadcasting or meteorological purposes, he said.
(China Daily January 18, 2002)