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Two More Satellites Set to Launch in 2005
China will send two oceanic and meteorological satellites to the skies in 2005 in its run-up to building a sophisticated earth observation system, utility officials said yesterday in Beijing.

The satellites will be more advanced than the HY-1A and FY-1D satellites launched atop a Long March rocket in mid-May.

After four months of in-orbit testing, both satellites were delivered by their maker, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, for use by the meteorological and oceanic agencies yesterday.

One of the new satellites, the HY-1B (HY are the initials for the Chinese word for "ocean"), will be sent into orbit in 2005 to replace the HY-1A, when the life-span of the country's first-ever oceanic satellite expires, said Lin Mingshen of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).

The 395-kilogram new satellite, which costs 300 million yuan (US$36 million) to manufacture, will provide the image of the entire globe's waters and lands every 24 hours, compared with the 72 hours it takes the HY-1A, said Lin, deputy chief designer of the satellite's ground application system.

Like its precursor, the HY-1B is also an ocean color monitoring satellite, but it will provide more precise data about the color and temperature of the ocean's surface, and also monitor pollution and aid in mitigating disasters, Lin said.

The other new satellite is a second generation polar orbiting weather satellite, the FY-3 (FY are the initials for the Chinese words for "wind and cloud").

The pictures returned from the FY-3 will aid not only accurate weather prediction but also give a better understanding of global weather systems, according to Zhang Guangwu, an official with the China Meteorological Administration.

Yesterday's kick-off preparations for the new oceanic and meteorological satellites indicate China has moved closer toward its ambition of forming a stereoscopic observation system by 2010 to dynamically monitor the country's land, atmosphere, and oceanic environment, experts said.

Following these two satellites scheduled to be launched in 2005, China also plans to place into space a chain of satellites to monitor the dynamic environment of the oceans and then focus on the comprehensive oceanic environment, said SOA's Lin.

The State Council budgeted 5.2 billion yuan (US$626 million) in 2000 to support development of meteorological satellites to meet the demands of national economic development, Zhang said.

Development of a new generation geo-stationary weather satellites is expected to start by the end of 2005, he said.

(China Daily September 19, 2002)

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