China intends to step up research and development of small satellites. The National Astronomical Science Industry Group says that low cost and reliability mean they have bright market prospects.
Small satellites can be used to observe natural disasters, conduct environmental tests and make astronomical observations. They are cheaper and have a longer life than larger satellites. And it's also much easier to sent them into a precise orbit and adjust their positions from ground control.
Zhang Wei, Assistant General Manager of China Astronomical Science Industry Group, said: "We plan to develop a series of small satellites by 2010. They will be used to survey land resources, help urban development and observe disasters. We will launch some of them with our own missiles. Others will be sent into space through international collaboration."
The advantages of smaller satellites have made them a hot research area and China plans to launch one, or maybe two this year.
(CCTV January 14, 2004)