To Keep an Eye on India and CPEC, China Launches Two Satellites For All-Weather Ally Pakistan
New Delhi, July 9: China on Monday launched two remote sensing satellites for its all-weather ally Pakistan, which other than monitoring the progress of the strategic $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), will also keep an eye on India.
The launch of the two satellites marks yet another space cooperation between China and Pakistan since the launch of PAKSAT-1R, a communication satellite, in August 2011.
The satellites — PRSS-1 and PakTES-1A — were launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China at 11:56 am using a Long March-2C rocket, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The PRSS-1 is China’s first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan. It is the 17th satellite developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) for an overseas buyer, it said.
A scientific experiment satellite, PakTES-1A, developed by engineers of the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), was sent into orbit using the same rocket.
India is way ahead of Pakistan in space technology, with 43 operational satellites in space. It also has the radar imaging satellites with all-weather surveillance capability.
However, with the launch of the two satellites by its number one ally China, Pakistan hopes to compete with India. It currently has five satellites in space and lacks heavy duty launchers and satellite fabrication facilities.
The PRSS-1 will be used for land and resources surveying, monitoring of natural disasters, agriculture research, urban construction and providing remote sensing information for the CPEC under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of the Chinese government.
The satellites will play a positive role in the development of Pakistan’s economy and improve the lives of people. Alongside, it will also provide space remote sensing information services for the CPEC, which is flagship project of the BRI.
The satellite, which has a designed life of seven years, is equipped with two panchromatic/multispectral cameras, with a resolution up to a metre and a coverage range of 60 km.
Designers say the two cameras are among the best exported remote sensing cameras made by China. They can be used to monitor plant diseases and pests, the report said.
Each camera has independent image processing, storage and transmission capability. The design of lossless compression could greatly improve the quality of the images, according to the designers.
A specially designed orbit will ensure the satellite operates steadily and will optimise the image quality.
The satellite can turn at wide angles to enable the cameras to cover a wider range. The PRSS-1 has an information security design, and the data can be encrypted.
The data transmission system is a mature technology, which has been used in more than 20 Chinese satellites, said He Xinyang, vice president of the Xi’an branch of the CAST.
When the satellite flies over Pakistan, it can send back real-time images, said Zhang Qian, a designer for the data transmission system.
Today’s launch is the 279th mission of the Long March rocket series. Long March-2C rockets are mainly used to send satellites into low Earth or Sun-synchronous orbits.
It is also the first international commercial launch for a Long March-2C rocket within nearly two decades after it carried Motorola’s Iridium satellites into orbit in 1999.
(With PTI inputs)