Hainan Satellite Constellation System Provides Shield for South China Sea
(Source: China Military Online; issued Jan 03, 2018)
BEIJING --- The ChinaRS Geo-informatics Co., Ltd (ChinaRS) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced the official launch of the "Hainan No. 1" satellite project on Dec.14, 2017. Hainan will launch its first satellite in 2019 and the Hainan satellite constellation system will be completed within the next four to five years.

According to the plan, there will be six optical satellites in the Hainan No. 1 project as part of the future Hainan satellite constellation, while the Sanya No. 1 project will have two hyper spectral satellites and two SAR satellites.

According to calculations, once the number of satellites in the constellation has increased to eight, the system will be able to achieve non-stop all-weather observations of all tropical and marine areas between the 30th south and north latitudes. The satellite constellation project will achieve full uninterrupted observations of the South China Sea.

Yang Tianliang, director of the project, said that the initiative was proposed by Guo Huadong, chief scientist of the project and a CAS academician.

"Hainan has the advantages of low latitude and wide range, so we need to clarify our thinking and formulate measures to find the right point of development," said Guo Huadong at the launching ceremony. Relying on Sanya’s natural advantages, the CAS established a space station there in 2001 and added an institute within the following two years.

At present, the project has completed its overall demonstration and system design. The testing of satellite systems and ground systems will be gradually carried out starting from next year.

Launching low latitude satellites is of great significance to China.

On the global scale, more than 90 percent of the remote sensing satellites are located above the north and south poles, but have a lower frequency of observation in low latitude areas.

Through repeated simulations and projections, experts of the ChinaRS found that constellations of three satellites at low latitudes can achieve daily observations and multiple observations each day in key areas.

"This area covers not only all the countries on the Silk Road, but also 92 percent of the world's rice acreage. The system can help monitor the growth of rice but also can help marine dynamics research," said Guo.

More importantly, the Hainan satellite constellation will become a huge "skynet" covering the South China Sea.

"There are more than 50 islands, reefs and beaches scattered in the South China Sea. The monitoring and management of such vast oceans, the safeguarding of our national sovereignty and the building of a strong maritime province require the assistance of remote sensing technology," said Yang Tianliang. He added that the Hainan No.1 satellites can monitor every island and reef and every ship of the South China Sea.

Li Xiaoming, member of the project, said at the launching ceremony that Hainan is the strategic base of the South China Sea and therefore developing a satellite system in Hainan is a responsibility and requirement of the strategy of strengthening China's maritime power. It can provide effective information assurance for China's South China Sea management and control.

Through the Hainan constellation system, China can gain a wide range of observational capabilities over the South China Sea and its surrounding areas. The system can help China realize real-time dynamic observation and meet the needs of development and effective control in the South China Sea.

In the meantime, accurate and rapid response can also be achieved in the event of an emergency. The system is a guarantee for China's strategy of becoming a maritime power.

"People will pay more and more attention to the sky in Hainan with the completion and use of the launch site in Wenchang. The launch today is just the beginning. I believe there will be more moves in the future," said Yang Tianliang.

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