China may have joined the space race later than most western countries, but today it is a prominent player in this market. And even though the Chinese space agency rarely collaborates with ESA and NASA on international space missions, this country’s space industry seems to be developing at a very rapid pace. China already has its own space station and, so far, the only country with more satellites than China is the USA. Chinese space tech has full-cycle capabilities, and it gets launched only from Chinese sites. Besides, China alone makes them — no other countries are involved in manufacturing them. So, what do we know about Chinese satellite systems and technologies?
Navigation: What is the Chinese satellite called?
Now, China has a total of 499 spacecraft in orbit, and most of them are for navigation. There are three generations of BeiDou Navigation Satellite Systems, each with very advanced technological capabilities. Like most Chinese spacecraft, these NavSats have completely independent launch and tracking capabilities. Some analysts felt the need to raise the alarm when another Chinese satellite pulled a defunct BeiDou spacecraft into the graveyard orbit. After this mission, many space experts worldwide started worrying about an upcoming spacecraft from China that would become a killer satellite. They feared such a satellite’s technology and capabilities — more importantly, their potential for destruction. Right now, we will not jump to any conclusion about ‘killer’ space tech and just keep discussing existing Chinese NavSats.
The names of Chinese satellites used for navigation are:
● BeiDou-1A, launched on October 30, 2000.
● BeiDou-1B that followed on December 20, 2000.
● BeiDou-1C, a backup spacecraft launched on May 25, 2003.
This last version of a Chinese satellite established the navigation system for all the BeiDou-1 series. On November 2, 2006, China announced that starting in 2008, BeiDou would provide an open service that’s so accurate it can time at 0.2 microseconds with a 10 meters distance at the 0.2 meters/second speed. In February 2007, China launched its last tech in this series, BeiDou-1D, also a backup one. However, BeiDou-1D experienced a malfunction in the control system. Luckily it got fully restored.
What is the name of China’s first solar exploration satellite?
Orbital Today mentions the first solar exploration Chinese satellite, which is Xihe, using H-Alpha spectral imaging to scan. Xihe obtained the Sun’s first H-Alpha waveband spectral lines, neutral iron atoms, and neutral silicon atoms said China’s high-resolution Earth observation project Gaofen’s chief designer, Zhao Jian. Xihe’s launch took place on October 14, 2021. This spacecraft travels in a Sun-synchronous orbit 517 km above our planet. Since Xihe is the Sun’s first “photographer,” it has taken China into the solar exploration era. Waveband for H-Alpha is a super responsive solar activity spectral line in the Sun’s lower atmosphere.
Xihe works in orbit with magnetic levitation technology that increases stability and accuracy during operation. Also, it verified multiple newly released technologies, such as laser and wireless communication and magnetic coupling for wireless energy transmission. Now, Xihe is preparing to launch scientific observations every day. It has observed about 100 solar outbursts. Its observation is free and open for anyone to see it. And Xihe marks China’s contribution to the scientific community. According to some reports, China will launch its Advanced Space-based Solar Observatory that will conduct observations on the Sun’s magnetic field, coronal mass ejections, and solar flares. Eventually, this astonishing example of Chinese satellite remote sensing should give us a lot of factual info about the Sun.
What has China done with space exploration?
This article about the exploration of Chinese satellite models would not be complete without mentioning Chinese remote sensing satellites from the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST). This type of Chinese satellite is operated by the National Satellite Ocean Application Service, which is a subsidiary of the State Oceanic Administration. This satellite uses the CAST968 platform, which it’s stabilized on three axes. The HY Chinese satellite series is the first satellite of China to survey ocean resources.
There’s also the HY 2 series of Chinese satellites that monitors the dynamic oceanic environment using microwave sensors. The HY 2 series also detects the sea surface height, temperature, and wind field. Their sensors use altimeters, microwave imagers, and scatterometers. Last, China is preparing to launch the HY three satellites that will monitor coastal zones, maritime targets, and islands to get ocean geodesy info with infrared, microwave, and optical sensors.
So, while some experts sound the alarm about Chinese satellites posing a threat to other national spacecraft, let’s not forget that all space tech has dual applications. And plenty of spacecraft made in China contribute a lot of scientific data we can all benefit from as species.