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China to Launch Three More Satellites with Brazil
China and Brazil have confirmed that they will launch at least three more Earth observation satellites in the "near future" to form a remote-sensing system that will be both competitive and compatible with the world's needs, sources said at a Beijing seminar yesterday.

The new satellites will enable the two developing nations to reduce their dependence on the use of remote-sensing images provided by developed countries, diplomats and experts said.

The first China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS) was launched in 1999, and the two countries plan to launch CBERS-2 late this year to further research the Earth's surface, said Guo Jianning, director of the China Center for Resource Satellite Data and Applications.

Gilberto Camara, director for Earth observation at Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), said: "We have completed the final design review for CBERS-2 and are already working on the CBERS-3 and CBERS-4 satellites."

The future satellites will greatly improve the capacity for observing the Earth, Camara said.

He said he expected CBERS to become the most used remote-sensing satellite by 2010 -- not only by Brazil and China, but also by many other countries.

China and Brazil pooled their technical skills and financial resources in the late 1980s to initiate the CBERS program.

The first satellite has generated a tremendous amount of data since 2000, the year after it was launched into space, Guo told a gathering to promote the application of CBERS images.

CBERS-1 has provided 140 users in China with more than 8,000 images, covering 99 percent of Chinese territory.

The satellite data has proven important to the country's macroeconomic policy making and the construction of key infrastructure projects, Guo said.

In Brazil, CBERS images have been used to monitor deforestation, plan land use and analyze the environment, according to Leila Fonseca of Brazil's National Institute for Space Research.

The CBERS program represents one of the most successful cooperation partnerships between two developing countries, said Edson Marinho Duarte Monteiro, the charge d'affaires of the Brazilian Embassy in Beijing.

Thanks to the project, Brazil has been able to "smoothly overcome a long dependence on the use of remote-sensing images (from developed countries)," he said.

The launch of the CBERS series of satellites will usher China into an era when the bulk of its remote-sensing data needs no longer to be bought from abroad, said Hu Ruzhong of the China Remote-Sensing Application Association.

(China Daily July 23, 2003)

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