BEIJING – China will launch three weather monitoring satellites to help detect forest fires and sandstorms and monitor climate change, the China Daily said.
China suffers widespread flooding and drought each year, causing huge loss of life. Sandstorms whip up from the north in the spring and typhoons roar in from the south in the summer.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. had completed an appraisal of the first of the locally developed satellites, Fengyun-2 batch two (FY-2 02), which would be launched atop Long March 3A rockets, the newspaper said.
“China badly needs a stationary satellite like the FY-2 02 with its function of detecting sandstorms, forest and prairie fires,” it quoted Qin Dahe, the top official at the China Meteorologic Administration (CMA), as saying.
The corporation signed a contract on research, manufacturing, launch and monitoring Tuesday with the CMA, sponsored by the Commission of Science and Technology Industry for National Defense, it said.
“The contract, the first of its kind signed in the field of China’s civil space flight, marked the beginning of the industry heading for professional satellite applications instead of only making experimental ones,” a corporation spokesman was quoted as saying.
The satellites would be in synchronous orbit with Earth and operational by 2012, he said.
China has launched six weather satellites since 1988 with two of them still operating. It was not clear from where the new satellites would be launched, but many of China’s rockets blast off at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the western province of Gansu.
Wednesday, the secret facility allowed its first batch of foreign journalists in for a tour.