Chinese company hitches space ride on UK satellite

Updated 2018-02-09 09:16:07

Images taken by previous satellites that Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd has lent to Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Co.

A United Kingdom satellite company has secured a 25-million-pound ( million) contract to lend a high-resolution Earth observation spacecraft to a Chinese partner for seven years.

Beijing-based Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Co will lease the satellite from Guildford-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. The satellite will be launched on the Indian Space Research Organisation's Polar rocket in August.

The contract was signed in Beijing last week, in the presence of UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox.

It follows on from the two companies' extensive collaboration since 2011, when Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd agreed to build three new satellites for Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Co, China's largest independent commercial satellite operator, to use for seven years, for 110 million pounds.

These three satellites were launched into space in 2015. So far, they have been used to take pictures of land use and landscape changes from space.

The new satellite, with design and functions identical to the previous three, will do the same work.

Martin Sweeting, executive chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology, said the new contract "consolidates the success" of the previous three, which are collectively known as Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology's existing TripleSat Constellation service.

"Adding capacity to the Constellation with a new satellite demonstrates the high fidelity of the imagery and the success of Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology's business model," said Sweeting.

The agreement follows other similar initiatives by British and Chinese companies to partner on satellite technology. Last year, the Xi'an-based China Academy of Space Technology Xi'an and the University of Surrey's Institute for Communications Systems signed a two-year contract to develop High Throughput Satellite and 5G mobile satellite systems.

In 2015, the London-based satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat signed an agreement with China Transport Telecommunication and Information Center, jointly to provide satellite communications services covering China and other countries in the Belt and Road region.

Such service allows Chinese companies to communicate effectively while working in difficult terrain, particularly during the construction of major infrastructure projects.

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