Satellite to better connect Silk Road

Updated: 2015-10-19 08:57

By Zhao Lei in Xichang, Sichuan(China Daily)

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Nations in South and Southeast Asia as well as Oceania will soon benefit from a communications satellite China launched over the weekend for a Hong Kong-based operator, said project managers.

With its transponders, the Apstar 9 is capable of covering China, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, said Chen Xun, vice-president of the Hong Kong-based APT Satellite Co Ltd, which will operate the Apstar 9 a month later from now, when the satellite completes in-orbit tests.

"The satellite will start commercial operations after the in-orbit tests finish, helping to better connect countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road," Chen said.

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, stretches from southern China to Southeast Asia, and even to Africa. The ambitious initiative aims to boost trade, exchanges and cooperation.

The Apstar 9 was developed by China Academy of Space Technology based on its DFH-4 satellite platform.

APT Satellite now operates four communications satellites, all of which were made by foreign manufacturers.

The Apstar 9 is the first communications satellite developed in China that it has introduced. It marks a breakthrough in satellite delivery by the Chinese space industry to a leading international satellite operator.

The Apstar 9 blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province early on Saturday morning. A Long March 3B rocket sent the 5,250 kg spacecraft into geostationary transfer orbit to replace the old Apstar 9A.

The project's prime contractor is China Great Wall Industry Corp, the nation's only authorized provider of commercial launch services.

Since 1990, Great Wall has launched 41 rockets that placed 47 satellites for 20 foreign clients into orbit.

The nation's next-generation rockets, including the heavy-lift Long March 5, scheduled to conduct its maiden flight next year, and the "high-speed response" launch vehicle, Long March 6, which was first used in September, will also be adopted for international commercial launches, Fu Zhiheng, vice-president of Great Wall, said.

(China Daily 10/19/2015 page4)