China's space plan shows global intent

China's space plan shows global intent

Summary: The Chinese government has outlined the country's space strategy, including a global satellite network and plans for space exploration.The whitepaper, published in English on China Daily on Friday, gives details on China's strategy for the next five years.

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The Chinese government has outlined the country's space strategy, including a global satellite network and plans for space exploration.

The whitepaper, published in English on China Daily on Friday, gives details on China's strategy for the next five years. One of the main areas of development is a global swarm of satellites to provide intelligence and meteorological information to the government.

"China will improve its present meteorological, oceanic, and resource satellite series and its small satellites constellation for environmental and disaster monitoring and forecasting," China wrote. "It will initiate a high-resolution Earth observation system as an important scientific and technological project and establish on the whole a stable all-weather, 24-hour, multi-spectral, various-resolution Earth observation system."

The plans go hand in hand with China's Beidou/Constellation network of satellites, which provides the country with its own version of the US government's global positioning system (GPS). Beidou started offering navigation services to public and private companies in China in December.

By building its own GPS rival, China's military will be able to use a precise navigation, positioning and timing system that is not controlled by the US military.

China wants Beidou to be capable of global coverage by 2020. Paired with its plans for a comprehensive fleet of satellites monitoring the earth's climate and geographies the strategy gives China access to vast amounts of data to mine for both scientific and intelligence purposes.

The country gave scant details on how the strategy would be funded. One of China's goals is to "gradually establish a diverse, multi-channel space funding system," it said, with an emphasis on directing money toward major science and technology projects and satellites.

Hopes for international collaboration

The country hopes to collaborate with the international community on space research, communications satellites and technology development.

It wants to work with other countries on developing the capabilities of its space lab and mooted space station.

Another major endeavour for the country will be lunar exploration, though it did not give timing or technical details.

It has plans for new space launcher systems as well. The Long March-5 rocket will use "non-toxic and pollution-free propellant" — hydrogen — to place up to 25 tons of payload into near-Earth orbit or 14 tons into Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO).

The country did not give details on whether these rockets will be able to be used by other governments. With the retirement of the shuttle, Russia now handles some of the US's space launches.

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Jack Clark

About Jack Clark

Currently a reporter for ZDNet UK, I previously worked as a technology researcher and reporter for a London-based news agency.

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  • As used to be said in the Roman senate, "Carthago delinda est."
    Wolveinsocal
  • American law requires that the export of technologies that help advance the Chinese space program or missile programs must have approval from the White House but American universities use loopholes to get around the law. The University of Michigan has sent faculty to China to lecture on anti-satellite weapons technology and cruise missile guidance systems. Chinese students have also come to Michigan to study ballistic missile nose cone technology and other military and dual use techologies. Read more at www.china-threat.com
    citizen2000