A range of satellites

Since the first launch, China has put more than 50 satellites in the Dong Fang Hong (DFH) series into orbit - though, rather like the Soviet Cosmos satellite series, the DFH designation is used as a catch-all for a wide range of satellites, including remote-sensing missions, atmospheric studies, and a system of regional comsats also known as Chinasat.

A separate series of spacecraft is the FSW (a Chinese acronym for recoverable test vehicle). These satellites carry a capsule that can be used to return the results of satellite experiments to Earth, giving China an ability matched only by

IA ■f the US and Russia. Re-entry technology was developed as part of China's secret military satellite programme (in order to return photographic film from orbiting spy cameras), but it has also been used to return remote-sensing data and a variety of experiments from orbit.

In keeping with the Chinese attitude to their space programme, the technology was soon made commercially available, and the first customer to take advantage of the service was the French company Matra in 1987.

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24 April 1970

China launches its first satellite, Dong Fang Hong-1 (DFH-1, sometimes also known as China-1), on a CZ-1 Long March rocket.

26 November 1975

The maiden flight of the CZ-2C rocket puts an FSW surveillance satellite, with a recoverable film capsule, into orbit.

8 April 1984

Dong Fang Hong-2 is launched by a CZ-3 rocket to become China's first geostationary comsat.

25 October 1985

China announces that it will make its launch vehicles and facilities commercially available.

7 September 1988

China launches its first weather satellite, Fengyun-1.

7 April 1990

China fulfils its first commercial contract, launching the Asiasat-1 comsat.

14 October 1999

The Ziyuan-1 remote-sensing satellite, a joint project of China and Brazil, is launched.

20 November 1999

China launches the first spacecraft in its new Shenzhou programme.

RUSSIA

Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre

Beijing

Jaiyuoa Satellite ü Launch centre

Xichang Satellite launch Centre $

INDIA

chang Satellite Launch Cen

Beijing

RUSSIA

Jaiyuoa Satellite ü Launch centre

Xichang Satellite launch Centre $

INDIA

chang Satellite Launch Cen

CHINA

CHINA

CHINESE SPACE FACILITIES

China's four major spaceports each specialize in a different type of launch. Geostationary satellites launch from Xichang or Wenchong, polar satellites from Taiyuan, and satellites with inclined orbits from Jiuquan.

29 September 1962

The first non-superpower satellite, Canada's Alouette 1, is launched by a US rocket.

19 April 1975

India's first satellite, Aryabhata, is launched by the Soviet Union.

18 July 1980

India launches the Rohini 1B test satellite with its own SLV-3 rocket.

19 September 1988

Israel launches its first satellite, the prototype for a series of Ofeq reconnaissance satellites.

15 October 1994

India's polar satellite launch vehicle makes its first successful flight, launching the IRS P2 remote-sensing satellite.

18 April 2001

The first flight of India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle launches the GSAT-1 test satellite.

22 August 2003

A Brazilian prototype launch vehicle, the VLS-1 V03 explodes on the launch pad at Alcantara.

23 October 2004

Brazil successfully launches a VSV-30 rocket carrying a suborbital test satellite.

The spread of spaceflight

Since the 1960s, a handful of nations other than the major space powers have developed their own launchers and satellite programmes as commercial enterprise encourages access to space.

Several countries have developed national satellite projects that have been sent into orbit with the help of launch vehicles supplied by the more established space nations. Canada was the first non-superpower country to have its own satellite in orbit: Alouette 1 was launched by a US Thor-Agena B rocket in September 1962 and led to a whole series of similar satellites, as well as later national projects such as the Anik comsats.

Other nations soon followed. NASA launched Italy's San Marco 1 atmospheric probe in 1964, Britain's Ariel 3 and Australia's Wresat in 1967, and Germany's Azur 1 to investigate the Van Allen Belts in 1969. A more ambitious German mission followed in 1974 - the first Helios probe, designed to orbit close to the Sun.

In the 1970s, the growth of satellite applications, and the establishment of specialist organizations and businesses to build satellite networks, broadened the launch market beyond national governments. By the 1980s, NASA had competition for these hungry customers - at first from ESA, but then from China and even the Soviet Union.

But, while most nations seem content to pay for their launches or enter into collaborations with the major space powers, a few countries have worked hard to develop their own launch capability.

ALOUETTE 1

The first Canadian satellite, designed to study the ionosphere layer of Earth's upper atmosphere, established a close relationship between NASA and Canada.

ALOUETTE 1

The first Canadian satellite, designed to study the ionosphere layer of Earth's upper atmosphere, established a close relationship between NASA and Canada.

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