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China, Venezuela To Collaborate on New Earth Observing Satellite

© SpaceNews, PARIS — The Venezuelan government on Oct. 5 contracted with China’s satellite- and rocket-export company for construction and launch of an Earth observation satellite in what will be the two nations’ third satellite collaboration.

The contract-signing ceremony was witnessed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and occurred during the National Culture Congress in Caracas. Maduro said the satellite, until now referred to as Venezuelan Remote Sensing Satelite 2, will be named Antonio Jose de Sucre, after a 19th century Venezuelan independence leader.

For Beijing-based China Great Wall Industry Corp. (CGWIC), the Venezuelan contract ended a dry spell on export markets. China’s domestic demand is sufficient to keep its Long March rocket series busy, but CGWIC is charged with finding export opportunities. The contracts are usually for the in-orbit delivery of satellites developed in China.

The Venezuelan president’s office, in a post-ceremony statement, said the Sucre satellite would be developed by Venezuelan and Chinese engineers as part of a joint effort.

The satellite’s technical specifications were not immediately available, nor was its launch date aboard the China Long March 2D vehicle.

The contract reinforces China’s position in Latin America, where it has won orders for telecommunications satellites from Bolivia and Venezuela and has an Earth observation satellite series with Brazil.

The large Chinese-built Venesat telecommunications satellite was launched in 2008 but has had little effect on the broader South American market for satellite bandwidth, industry officials have said. Venezuela’s VRSS1 Earth observation satellite was launched in September 2012. It carries an imager capable of detecting objects with a 2.5-meter diameter or larger in black-and-white mode, with a 57-kilometer swath width, when pointing straight down.