Jeffrey LewisChina launches small satellite

China successfully sent two new satellites, Experiment Satellite I (Shiyan 1) and Nano-satellite I (Nuoxing 1), into space early Monday with a Long March II C carrier rocket, according to the People/’s Daily.

People/’s Daily hailed the launch as a “technological breakthrough in the country/’s development of small satellites.” The launch is welcome news for China (and science in general), but also demonstrates the need for rules of the road for increasingly capable small satellites in orbit.

The technical details are coming out in Chinese faster than English. Gregory Kulacki at the Union of Concerned Scientists, offered this summary of the Chinese language news:

The [Shiyan 1 (SY 1)] is a joint effort of the Harbin Industrial University and an affiliated research institute of the China Aerospace Technology Corporation called China Institute of Space Technology (Might be CAST). It is China/’s first “turning style 3-D sensing mini sat” (I/’m sure there/’s a better name). It weighs 204 Kilograms. It was developed by the Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences “chuanguangji” institute (spring laser machine) and the Xian Sensing Research Institute. It will be used principally for China Natural Resources images sensing, geographic and environmental measuring and sense mapping experiments. It employed “one piece construction” ideas and a variety of “control” and self-regulating mechanisms that I will have to look up in more detail. It is being used in conjunction with China/’s remote sensing ground stations

Naxing 1 uses High tech “tansuo” (probe) technology. It is less than 25 kilograms and was jointly developed and will be used by Tsinghua University and and the Aerospace Tsinghua Sat technology Corporation. This launch “through developing a set of key technologies” develops a “platform for nanosat” and “demostrates principles of flight (navigation) in space”. It/’s principal mission includes “experiments in CMOS camera imaging of objects”, “tazai (tower carry/load)experiments combining mircoscale and “fuzzy”measurements, experiments in maintaining and changing orbits, sat operation and software experiments and “particle machine tazai (tower carry/load) experiments. When the technologies are mature they will be used for laser imaging and visual measurment for environmental and resource scieces, hydro, geographical and climate measuements and other scientific experiments.”

UPDATE: Jonathan/’s Space Report has additional details. When you visit Jonathan/’s website, take a moment to view the pictures from our conference at Beihang and various excursions.