Space: Chinese Satellite Fleet Grows, And Grows


July 22, 2010:  By the end of the year, China will have at least sixty military space satellites in orbit. Fourteen of these will be dual-use photo reconnaissance or largely military radar satellites. These are smaller than those used by the United States. The Chinese models tend to be three tons or less and don't last as long. There are also fifteen military communications satellites and sixteen Beidou navigation satellites. There are another dozen or so miscellaneous scientific and research satellites. Most of these satellites have gone up in the last five years, and are of modern design.

China put its first satellite up in 1970. Over the next 31 years, China put 50 more satellites into orbit, and developed satellite launcher rockets that were 90 percent successful. By 1986, Chinese launchers were considered reliable enough for Western companies to use them for putting their expensive (although insured)  satellites into orbit. In the last decade, China has developed modern (comparable to Western models) satellites for everything from communications, photo-reconnaissance to weather forecasting.




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