China to build satellite ground stations in Antarctica

HELSINKI — China is to assemble new floor station amenities to its Zhongshan analysis base in Antarctica to assist satellite tv for pc information acquisition. 

Official area business newspaper China House Information reported Feb. 2 {that a} subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Trade Company (CASIC), an enormous state-owned protection and area contractor, received a bid to assemble a ocean remark satellite tv for pc floor system.

The undertaking is being overseen by the Nationwide Satellite tv for pc Ocean Utility Service (NSOAS) and is acknowledged to be a part of a long-term marine financial improvement plan. 

Renders of the 43.95 million yuan ($6.52 million) undertaking present 4 radome-covered antennas at Zhongshan in East Antarctica. It’s unknown if these are new and extra to antennas already established on the base. 

The antennas will help information acquisition from Chinese language satellites that orbit in polar and near-polar orbits. Satellites in these orbits are seen close to the poles a number of instances a day, permitting extra frequent alternatives for downlink than with stations at decrease latitudes. 

China has already launched eight Haiyang collection ocean remark satellites into sun-synchronous orbits between 2002 and 2021, and plans more within the coming years. The primary new-generation Haiyang-3 satellite tv for pc is scheduled for launch this 12 months, in accordance the China’s principal area contractor, CASC.

The unfold of Chinese language floor stations internationally has led to concerns, significantly over development in South America. That community, whereas having clear civilian makes use of, might be used to spy on, monitor and probably even goal U.S. and different nations’ spacecraft, in accordance with an October 2022 report from the Heart for Strategic and Worldwide Research. 

The brand new deliberate development at Zhongshang station, at 69 levels south, might gasoline issues that China would be capable of obtain distant sensing, climate, surveillance and different information that might be used for navy functions quicker than beforehand.

Different international locations with analysis stations in Antarctica even have floor stations, together with the U.S. and Japan, whereas commercial floor stations have additionally been established. 

Floor stations are key infrastructure required to function spacecraft, facilitating the alternate of information and instructions. Their significance means they’re more likely to be one other space of contest for opposing area powers. 

Geopolitical and geographical obstacles imply Chinese language entry to floor station assist is at instances restricted. The Sweden House Company (SSC) stated in 2020 that it might now not renew contracts to help China with its floor stations. 

China’s launch fee has risen dramatically over current years, rising China’s want for floor station assist infrastructure. The nation carried out 19 orbital launches in 2015, however final 12 months tried 64 launches, sending greater than 180 satellites into orbit. This 12 months CASC alone plans greater than 60 launches carrying over 200 spacecraft.

China incessantly makes use of “Yuanwang” monitoring ships to assist rocket launches. The European House Company has beforehand assisted main lunar and deep area expiration missions with its floor stations. Chinese language business area corporations such Emposat have begun providing companies, with amenities in throughout China and worldwide stations in France, Azerbaijan, South America, Africa, South East Asia and Samoa.

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