Space: Chinese Satellite Building Setback


10, 2006:
China's space program suffered a major setback last month when the
largest satellite China had ever built, and launched, failed. The five ton Sinosat
2 bird carried 22 transponders and was designed to bring television to over 300
million Chinese, many of them in rural areas that currently have little such
service. The major problem was the failure, of the satellite's 35 meter wide
solar arrays, to deploy. The antennae structure failed to open also. What was
particularly worrisome was the degree of failure, indicating major problems
with the design and construction of the satellite. An equivalent Western bird
would cost about half a billion dollars, but China claimed its loss was less
than half that. The real loss was the indication that Chinese satellite
builders had design and quality control problems. This will be a major setback,
as it will take months to find out exactly what those problems are, and even
longer to fix them.


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