China: The contribution of China's Gaofen-1 satellite during the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has shown the determination of Beijing to build the world's most powerful satellite navigation system, reports the state-run Global Times.
Global Times said Gaofen-1 is the first of a series of high-resolution optical Earth observation satellites designed by the China National Space Administration. The civilian High-Definition Earth Observation Satellite program was originally proposed in 2006 and approved by the government in 2010. Between 2013 and 2016, China plans to launch six Gaofen satellites. After GF-1, the second Gaofen satellite, known as GF-2, is set to be launched this year.
In 2016, China will launch three more Gaofen satellites. By 2020, China's High-resolution Earth Observation System is likely to be complete after all the Gaofen satellites are in space. Although the High-resolution Earth Observation System is designed mainly for civilian use, Global Times said that it is valuable to the People's Liberation Army as well.
Designed as the first high-resolution satellite, the GF-1 carries two two-meter panchromatic, two eight-meter multispectral high-definition cameras, and four 16-meter resolution wide-angle cameras. It has a swath width of 800 kilometres while the SPOT6 designed by France can only reach 60 kilometres. China also has other satellite program dedicated to the military.