The state-owned aerospace conglomerate China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has started wooing overseas buyers of satellite photos at reportedly 1-meter spatial resolution or even higher at a number of trade shows and exhibitions, such as the Army-2017 Defense Exhibition held in Moscow.
These commercially available photos were all shot with China’s various indigenous imaging satellites that are tailor-made to suit the needs of civil and commercial use, such as the CASC-made VRSS-2 remote sensing satellite launched last October for Venezuela.
Hong Kong-based Kanwa Defense Review reports that CASC will soon start marketing the SuperView-1 internationally, the first generation of an ultra-mobile, lightweight (560 kilograms) imaging satellite family with improved sensor resolution as high as 0.5 meter in panchromatic format and 2 meters in multispectral format.
One satellite can churn out and store data of a total of 700,000 square kilometers per day, and a network of 16 such satellites can collect images of any given location on the planet at least once daily throughout their designed service life of no less than eight years, according to CASC.
Two such satellites have been circling the Earth in a Sun-synchronous orbit 530km above the ground since December 2016.
Previously this market was dominated by a handful of US and European imagery and geospatial content vendors such as DigitalGlobe, Planet Labs and Spot Image. which because of their stranglehold on the market, could sell their products with a fat markup.
CASC has not disclosed a specific price regime but it’s believed that the Chinese company will seek to undercut existing rivals to build up market share, and prices will depend on resolution and purchase quantity. It’s also said that discounted subscription fees are on offer for long-term customers such as governmental agencies, academic institutions and private entities such as energy firms.
Meanwhile, military analyst Andrei Chang has said that Beijing has been able to keep a close eye on military installations and deployments in Taiwan, Japan, India and the Korean Peninsula on the strength of the legion of satellites it has launched throughout the years.
DigitalGlobe has been selling 30cm resolution imagery since 2015.