China launches 3 commercial remote sensing satellites

Image courtesy of Chang Guang Satellite Co.

Today (21 November 2017), at 12:50 p.m. Beijing time (GMT+8), China launched 3 commercial remote sensing satellites for Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co.

Part of the company’s Jilin 1 satellite series, the launch today saw China’s Long March 6 rocket placing Jilin 1-04, Jilin-1-05, and Jilin 1-06 into orbit, from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi province. The launch success has been confirmed.

The total launch mass of the satellites is approximately 625kg, and each is capable of high-resolution video imaging with a 1-metre resolution, with a design life of 3 years.

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The three remote sensing satellites will add to the existing Jilin-1 constellation, making up 8 satellites in total. Jilin 1-01, Jilin 1-02, and two other Jilin-1 satellites were launched in 2015, aboard a Long March 2D rocket, while Jilin 1-03 was launched earlier this year aboard China’s small solid-fuel launcher the Kuaizhou-1. The company plans to add two additional satellites to the constellation in the near future.

Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co is China’s first commercial remote sensing satellite company, which deals in end-to-end services including the development of satellite components and the selling of satellite imagery. Established in 2014, the company – although calling itself a private enterprise – has as its major shareholders five state-owned organisations, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences. According to the company, it began with a paid-up capital of approximately 1.2 billion Yuan (US$180 million).

So far, the Jilin satellites have contributed mainly to disaster monitoring and national development. They have been used, for example, to monitor crop cultivation and soil moisture in Xinjiang province, and monitor flood-prone areas in Jilin province.

The company is one of many private space enterprises that have sprung up in China in the recent years, along with others such as satellite imagery distributor Space View, launch vehicle startups ExPace and Link Space, and state-owned companies like microsatellite developer Aerospace Dongfanghong Satellite Co., Ltd.


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