The State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense has successfully launched China’s first high-resolution imaging satellite. In the wake of the Sichuan quake, the device is being touted as a predictor of natural disasters and an eye-in-the-sky for monitoring disaster relief. Dubbed the Gaofen-1, the satellite will also be used to monitor ‘precision agriculture’ and weather throughout the country. It definitely won’t be used for spying.
By improving the precision and timeliness of data provision, the satellite could play an important role in disaster relief in a country that is a frequent sufferer from such incidents.
Disaster relief work following the quake pointed to a lack of precise and timely data, despite the help of several remote sensing satellites and the Beidou positioning system. Gaofen 1 can fill the gaps for more reasonable policy making.
It could also improve land resources surveying, environmental monitoring, geographical mapping as well as precision agriculture.
The satellite is just one part of China’s budding space program, which seeks to have a network of high-definition Earth observation satellites operational by 2016. All of them are definitely not for spying.